“Fox Force Five” is the name of the television show Uma Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction shot a pilot for and even though it’s a tiny part of the movie, it got my mind churning all those years ago. I developed five disparate female characters and wrote introductory scenes for all of them.
The following is Khadija’s introductory scene. She was a kick-ass former military officer, an Israeli Arab and Mossad agent, who found herself teaching suburban and rural women self-defence.
I never really took it anywhere and this was written all the way back in 2001.
INT. OLD TOWN HALL – DAY
In a rural setting somewhere, sun seeps in through the dusty windows and falls on a group of women, dressed mostly in tracksuit pants. They are middle-aged, generic, blue-collar, but eager.
One woman, KHADIJA, stands apart. She is the instructor. Standing at the front of the class, she is dressed in tight aerobic style gear in military green. The clothing shows off her impressive physique and the unmistakeably military tattoo on her right upper arm. While the other women are sweating from the effort they have put into the class, Khadija is glowing with a subdued sort of happiness. She likes to feel in control. She loves the power that teaching this class gives her and loves that other women might feel the same sort of power from what they are learning.
Ladies, we’ve got just a few more minutes.
There is a hint of a Middle Eastern accent when she speaks.
(with emphasis, with expertise)
Let’s go back over the basics. Don’t wait until your attacker has you on the ground. Begin your defence the moment you feel under threat. Use your voice. Shout. What is it that you don’t shout?
(collectively with vigour)
Right. In a small country town like this, what do you shout if you want to get someone’s attention?
Right. No self-respecting country boy is going to ignore shouts of “fire” when it could be his farm that’s going up in flames.
There are nods of agreement.
But let’s consider another scenario. You’ve taken a trip to the city to…buy yourself a dress…
Buying dresses is obviously not something that Khadija knows anything about.
…and some punk with a bad haircut and a worse attitude wants your purse. Most likely no-one cares if there’s a fire, and fewer people than that are going to care if your purse gets stolen. So it’s up to you.
Khadija looks around for someone to step onto the mat with her. She spies DIANE, who is obviously the woman with the most influence in the town.
Diane, would you step up, please?
Diane does not hesitate but she possesses a sort of elegance that seems incongruous with what is about to be asked of her.
So, Diane, it’s up to you.
I’m going to attack you, okay? Now, don’t be afraid to hurt me, because if it was the other way around, you know the son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t hesitate to hurt you.
Diane nods again.
A man, DARRYL, enters the room through doors at the front of the hall and stands watching with quite obvious contempt.
(in a put-on vicious voice)
Gimme your purse, bitch.
No, you can’t have it. It’s mine. I won’t let you have it.
Gimme your goddam money, or I’ll hurt you good.
(as if to somebody nearby)
This woman is threatening me. I don’t know this woman. This woman is wearing green pants and a green top. This woman is threatening to hurt me.
Shut up, bitch, or I’ll shut you up.
Khadija advances on Diane and Diane holds up her hand in the classic stop sign.
Keep back, ma’am. Do not come closer. Take a step back.
The rest of the class watches intently but the man at the back of the hall scoffs loudly and obviously. Khadija continues to advance. When she is within reach, Diane thrusts her hand, still held out, into Khadija’s face, striking her hard on the nose.
Khadija’s head goes back. Diane steps back to allow Khadija to retreat, but Khadija comes again. This time Diane knees Khadija in the groin and when Khadija bends over in feigned pain, Diane smashes her fist into Khadija’s back. Khadija falls to the ground and Diane gives her one last punch for good measure then walks backward away from Khadija until she is standing back with the group. Each blow Diane inflicts, she yells, ‘No!’ concurrently.
Khadija jumps up quickly to resume a standing position and applauds along with the other ladies. Khadija has noticed the entry of the man at the back and also his sneers of contempt. With one eye on him, she continues the class.
Well done, Diane. That was the perfect example of maintaining focus, emphasising your power and following through.
I didn’t hurt you, did I?
(suppressing a laugh)
No, it would take a little more than that to hurt me.
(from the back of the room)
Not much more.
Khadija turns to look at Darryl directly and the women in the class follow suit. When Darryl’s wife realises it is her husband who has spoken, she immediately displays her frustration.
Darryl, what are you—?
(interrupting and scathing)
Excuse me, sir, is there something I can do for you?
(emphasising her authority)
Then would you mind not interrupting my class.
Khadija turns away.
(quietly but with no attempt to remain unheard)
There’s something I could do for you, alright.
Khadija turns back to face him.
You could be right. Would you mind stepping up to the mat, sir?
Would you be so kind as to participate in a demonstration for the ladies?
Take you on?
Khadija replies with a look that says, “You bet your ass.”
Darryl immediately accepts the challenge, walking to the front of the room and stepping onto the mat.
What are the rules?
I’m training these ladies for the real world. There are no rules.
A flicker of fear runs over Darryl’s face as he realises that Khadija is deadly serious and that she could quite possibly hurt him. But he refuses to back down, as he doesn’t want to lose face.
They face off with Darryl dancing around like a boxer. Khadija stands normally, her eyes alert. Darryl is waiting for her to attack him, just as she is waiting for him to make the first move. Darryl doesn’t understand that the class is about defence, not attack. He eventually gets sick of waiting and moves toward her.
(loudly and forcefully)
Sir, please step back. You are invading my personal space. Sir, take a step back.
(continuing his advance)
You think that’s going to save you?
Khadija continues to concentrate.
This man is threatening me. He is wearing blue jeans, a red flannel shirt, cowboy boots and a black Akubra. He has brown hair and blue eyes, a scar on his left cheek and a tattoo on the back of his left hand.
She is deliberately precise in her description to further throw him off, to make him realise she is still thinking incredibly clearly. Then she decides to have a little fun with him.
This man thinks he can hurt me.
There is a scattering of laughter from the assembled group of women. Darryl looks over at them and we see his anger building. He makes his move. Khadija holds up her hand much as Diane did.
I’m warning you to stay back, sir.
Darryl grabs Khadija by the upper arms. She chops her hands down over his arms, forcing him to let go, and then steps her right foot behind his right leg and pushes on his chest. He falls to the ground before he knows what she has done to him. Angered, Darryl jumps up, intending to really hurt Khadija. She hits him in the face with the heel of her hand, elbows the side of his head, backhands the other side of his face, knees him in the groin, brings her joined arms down on his back as he responds to her knee to the groin, knees him in the face, and then gently pushes him backwards. He falls flat on his back and the demonstration is over in seconds.
A group shot of the women, with varied looks of admiration and awe for Khadija, and disgust for Darryl.
The women begin applauding and Khadija joins in.
Let’s thank Darryl for helping us with our class today.
Darryl continues to lie groaning on the ground. His wife approaches him to see if he is alright but with a complete lack of sympathy.