As the reviews for Zack Snyder's 'Sucker Punch' come rolling in (you can read Todd Gilchrist's take on it over here) the movie about a young girl who creates a fantasy world to escape from her dark reality got us thinking. Babydoll, played by Emily Browning, is the lead player whose sanity is in question. She empowers herself with a team of ass-kicking friends to help her find her way through things. Girl gangs who buck the system and take control aren't a new phenomenon, but as Moviefone's Gary Susman asked the other day, "Why aren't there more movies like this?"

It'd be an easy task to come up with a list of male-dominated movies where groups of guys bond through a shared experience -- some through the trauma and exhilaration of violence, and some that actually manage to be meaningful. The female spectrum of films like this does exist -- and while some revolve around a romantic plotline, others are just about a bunch of woman trying to find themselves and beating incredible odds to do it. Whether the gang arrives at that juncture through an exploitation, comedy, or documentary lens isn't as important as the journey. Here are seven films that take a variety of approaches and kick some serious ass along the way.


'Foxfire'


Before Angelina Jolie became part of the crypto-Hollywood nightmare known as Brangelina, she was the leader of the pack in 1996's 'Foxfire' based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel. Jolie plays Legs, a drifter who gets under the skin of a group of high school girls, some who are facing drug problems, abuse and bullying. The girls form a bond when they take the reigns after Legs encourages them to stand up to a teacher that's been sexually harassing them. They get suspended from school for several weeks after threatening to "snip his little nuts off with toenail clippers," and run wild in the woods, setting up a clubhouse in an abandoned cottage. Their bravado earns them a serious rep and helps other girls empower themselves too. It's a pretty over-wrought affair -- the part erotic, part ridiculous topless tattoo scene helps confirm that -- but the film presents some important girl-centric issues with lots of spirit and a healthy dose of romanticism (there are lots of candles, even).


'The Craft'

On a less serious, but fun note there's Andrew Fleming's 'The Craft,' which follows four high school girls who transform their self-hatred, insecurity and conflict into something sexy-bitchy-cool by way of witchcraft. The racist popular girl, the jerky jock and the abusive dad all get what's coming to them when new girl Sarah rolls into town and hooks up with three awkward Catholic school students who claim to be witches. They need a fourth to summon the powers of Mother Nature and Sarah happens to be a "natural witch." The mojo is so strong that the girls get everything they ask for, x1000. Of course, things get a little loco. Also, there's nothing more kickass than watching Fairuza Balk's mouth open up like the Alien Queen during a feeding frenzy while she enacts her revenge. Jealous!




'Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!'


Russ Meyer's bodacious bad girl flick is the ultimate girl gang movie. The busty babes of Meyer's universe prove that you can be pretty and pretty pissed off, not letting anyone stand in your way. Say what you like about 'Faster Pussycat's' kitschy vulgarity, but tough gang leader Varla -- played by the glorious Tura Satana, who we recently lost -- talks trash like it's poetry and gets you gunning for the ultraviolence. Roger Ebert -- a close friend of Meyer's and co-writer for his 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' -- described why some women might like this movie best when he said:

"Take away all the jokes, the elaborate camera angles, the violence, the action and the sex, and what remains is the quintessential Russ Meyer image: a towering woman with enormous breasts, who dominates all the men around her, demands sexual satisfaction and casts off men in the same way that, in mainstream sexual fantasies, men cast aside women."

Power, baby.




'The Runaways'


Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning pop pills, pee on guitars, make out with girls and kick all kinds of ass while on stage performing as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie -- two members of the 70's band, The Runaways. The teenage girl group is brought together through their shared love of music and their equally miserable lives. They're like feral children set free on the road, and things stay wild. The girls have to contend with bottles being thrown at them, a verbally abusive and sadistic manager and male rocker machismo while on tour. Whatever gets dished out, the ladies take it like pros and prove they can party like rock stars in the process.


'The Heroic Trio'

Some Hong Kong hero dramas relegate their female players to forgettable supporting roles, but 1992's 'The Heroic Trio' places its ladies front and center. The movie's been described as kind of a superhero chick flick, but when you get Michelle Yeoh, Anita Mui and Maggie Cheung together kicking ass, we're not talking about something that would make an Oprah top ten list. Throw into the mix all the Hong Kong cinema goodies that make these movies so great: wire-fu, stunning cinematography and choreography, sexy weapons, hyperbolic action and more. It's a live-action comic book that combines romance, gore, visual thrills and the fantastical universe of well-drawn female characters together better than many American superhero sagas.


'Nine to Five'

Desk job rage and screwball shenanigans abound in the 1980 comedy, 'Nine to Five.' Lily Tomlin is an efficient office manager who gets unfairly passed over for promotion. Jane Fonda is a recently divorced housewife trying to pick up the pieces and move on. Dolly Parton is the boss's secretary who no one likes because they think she's having an affair with him. The boss is the bad guy, played by Dabney Coleman, who is indeed a total cad. After repeated humiliations, the women join forces and start fantasizing about what it would be like to kill him off. This turns into an actual kidnapping plot that wins them the rights they deserve. As our own Jenni Miller points out, " ... This comedy has at its core the hard-working, bad-ass spirit that these three women have out the wazoo in real life too."


'Hell on Wheels'


Bob Ray's 2007 documentary about the Texas roller derby community is about the bumps and bruises of the game, but also the intricacies of friendships and women struggling to carve a place of their own in the business world. As four derby captains band together to build their own all-female run league, squabbles, labor disputes, and lots of drama threatens to screw things up. It's an inspiring celebration of bone-crunching girl power that our own Jette Kernion describes as "a fascinating story."