The Joker? Magneto? Anton Chigurh? Who made the list?
O-Ren Ishii - 'Kill Bill'
Though Darryl Hannah's Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake) and Vivica A. Fox's Vernita Green (Copperhead) both have their charms, it's Lucy Liu's O-Ren Ishii who really steals the show in Quentin Tarantino's exploitation throwback. A half Chinese-half Japanese assassin who has risen through the ranks of the Tokyo Yakuza to become its leader, O-Ren molded herself into a cold-blooded killing machine following the brutal murder of her parents (an event rendered in a terrific anime flashback) and has proved unstoppable ever since - at least until the vengeful Bride gets hold of her. As brought to life by Liu - an actress who certainly knows her way around an icy stare - O-Ren's quiet demeanor is belied by the occasional enraged outburst, as when she makes a very public example a Yakuza subordinate who dares question her authority. It's this illusion of Zen - and the roiling blackness that simmers just beneath the surface - that gives the ruthless criminal mastermind such an intimidating power.
- Chris Eggertsen