'Nikita' delivers new action hero

Surely it is written somewhere in the vast television bylaws that prime time needs to be routinely restocked with stunningly beautiful, lethal women. Buffy, Xena, Sydney Bristow — they're all gone now, but the remarkable kick-butt-itude they fostered must live on.

And so The CW has graciously stepped up to fill the quota with a high-octane new fall series called "Nikita" starring Maggie Q.

Perhaps you've seen her in one of the show's red-hot promotional posters: Legs that go on forever and a sleek body adorned in an artsy tattoo and just a touch of leather.

Oh, and she's brandishing a gun.

"Nikita" is a reboot of the USA cable hit "La Femme Nikita," which itself was a remake of the original French film, which also inspired an American flick starring Bridget Fonda. Clearly, in pop culture, what goes around comes around.

The Hawaiian-born Maggie got her start in a series of Hong Kong action films and has shown off her skills in American flicks such as "Mission Impossible III," so the woman can brawl with the best of them.

Still, the grueling pace of television presents a heightened challenge.

"I'm half Asian, so (people) immediately go, 'Oh, well, you do kung fu,' " she told TV critics gathered in Beverly Hills for their summer press tour. "Like that's what we all do. We wake up. We brush our teeth and do kung fu. So it's just assumed that you're not working your butt off to make this believable and great. And we absolutely are."

In "Nikita," which premieres on Sept. 9, Maggie plays a former spy and assassin who has vowed to bring down the shadowy government agency that trained her. She is instantly captivating. The pilot episode bursts with vibrant action sequences and surprising twists that set it apart from other versions of the saga.

"That was my first challenge ... to find a way to do it fresh," says executive producer Craig Silverstein. "Could we have a take where you didn't know how this story was going to end? So it's not a rehash."

Like Jennifer Garner in "Alias," Maggie will need to go undercover a lot, meaning she'll be forced to don everything from skimpy swimwear to gorgeous evening gowns. It's something she doesn't exactly crave.

"I've gotten to that point," she says, "where I'm so used to being sort of sweaty and wearing pants and sitting like a guy in boots and the whole thing, that when I'm dressed up and people are touching me up, I'm less comfortable. I like to wear less makeup and be tougher."