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China O'Brien

China O'Brien

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China O’Brien; big city police woman; martial arts trainer, is forced to hand in her badge and head home to her father and the small town where she grew up. The peaceful town she knew is now struggling against the clutches of organized crime. When her father, the town sheriff, is killed China decides to run for his position and clean up the town. The poll results spark a series of confrontations that finally decide who runs the town . . .

STARS: Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Keith Cooke

86 min | Action, Crime, Drama | 1990 | Color


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Well choreographed action and good character variety
I suppose this was an early attempt to fuse Hollywood with eastern martial arts films, thoroughly flaunting the fact that Robert Clouse (the director of Enter The Dragon) was at the helm.
Unfortunately, Robert Clouse was really just a working director, and was there solely to see that things got done on time rather than make a piece of art.
The plot isn't deep, but it's not awful either, plus I like the reason that China never uses a gun and it was a nice explanation for all the action. It has a TV quality feel and some ropy acting, but none of that matters because the fight scenes are fantastic!!!!!
All the fights are superbly directed by fight choreographer Nijel Binns (who plays the white hatted Jonesy at the start of the film - a character i was sad there was not more of), and really show off the different talents of the three main fighters.
Keith Cooke really steals the show with his amazing kicking techniques, while Richard Norton opts for a more wrist lock and throw style which is very unique and cool. This leaves Rothrock as a good all rounder, and you feel like you are getting your money's worth with the action. What this variety does is allow you to pick your favourite depending on what style you like, very much like a video game.
There's a bit too much 'acting' between the combat sequences, but not so much that it becomes tiresome, and there's a nice song by a then unknown Tori Amos which adds a bit of emotion to the movie.
The real down point to the film, and a lot of these east/west films suffered from this, is that there was no final threat. The main antagonist is an ageing man with zero fight capability, and It was just really wave after wave of goons for the heroes to dispose of at the climax. This is no bad thing in itself, but it would have been better with a really threatening figurehead and a great end fight between China and a Boss.
The film was, in many ways, far ahead of it's time, and ticks a lot of boxes with regards to the feminist movement. The China O' Brian character is the superior authority in the film, with all the lawmen working beneath her. Rothrock also gets top billing in both opening and closing credits, and she is not sexualised in any scene, and never wears anything lewd or revealing. For 1988 that was pretty much unheard of even in Hollywood, let alone a low budget martial arts film.
A great one to watch with mates, or even a girlfriend. The sight of a woman kicking scumbag arse is universally appealing!

Watch it as a comedy!
As long as you go into this movie knowing that it's terrible: bad acting, bad "effects," bad story, bad... everything, then you'll love it. This is one of my favorite "goof on" movies; watch it as a comedy and have a dozen good laughs!

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