When the zombies attack, they don't care if you're wearing a miniskirt, and even a Calvin Klein model-turned-action-hero isn't going to bring them back to life.
Milla Jovovich returns in a sequel to 2002's video game-inspired Resident Evil. In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, opening today, her character has been genetically enhanced with superstrong fighting skills, which the former model is definitely going to need.
"I'm a warrior, I love martial arts," says Jovovich with a tongue-in-cheek nod to the campy elements of the sequel.
"I love to feel powerful in that sense," she says with a laugh during an interview to promote the film. "I definitely have a talent with violent objects. Maybe it's my Yugoslavian background. I'm always ready for battle — it's that crazy barbarian thing coming back from the abyss of my DNA."
The 28-year-old Jovovich, who has graced the cover of more than 150 magazines, wasn't kidding around when it came to preparing to be an action hero. Her four-month training regiment included stick fighting and weapons instruction under Phil Spangengerger, who counts Mel Gibson and Will Smith among his students.
Jovovich also studied capoeira, a Brazilian form of combat training, once considered so lethal that it was banned there.
Female action heroes are expected to not only kill monsters, they have to look good as they do so. Angelina Jolie set a new standard for sexy fight scenes in the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider series, and Jovovich has a lot to live up to.
In the first Resident Evil, an outbreak of the "T-Virus" at the underground lab of the sinister Umbrella Corp. left a swarm of bloodthirsty "Undead" threatening Raccoon City. Jovovich's character, Alice, once the company's security chief, joins up with an elite band of soldiers, who are all but killed trying to save humanity.
As the new film begins, Alice awakens in a hospital room to find her worst fears realized. The Undead are wreaking havoc, the virus is out of control, and she's been subjected to genetic testing.
The new movie introduces British actress Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, the best-known character from the Resident Evil video game series, who joins Alice in the battle against Umbrella Corp.
"I'm a huge fan of the game, and when I saw Sienna in her outfit, I started jumping up and down and clapping like a little girl," Jovovich says. "In the game, she's this tough girl with a miniskirt and a tube top. In the flesh, she's got attitude for days! And when she's got a gun in her hand, you better run in the opposite direction."
Guillory, 29, recently starred as Helen in the USA Network's mini-series Helen of Troy. "She absolutely looks like a human version of Jill," Jovovich says of her co-star, "but prettier and cooler."
The first Resident Evil was only a moderate success in theaters, earning a modest $39 million at the box office. But it was a big success as a DVD, and the game franchise is one of the most successful in history, with sales of more than 24 million units worldwide, giving the studio inspiration to develop the film franchise.
Jovovich is no stranger to sci-fi adventure. She was nominated for a 1998 MTV Movie Award for her fight scene with aliens in the Bruce Willis thriller The Fifth Element.
She ultimately lost the best fight award that year to Will Smith, who squared off with a giant cockroach in Men in Black.
But with a little stick fighting and Brazilian martial arts under her belt, Jovovich may now be a force even Smith might not want to take on … and certainly not in a miniskirt.