Wednesday, 26 February 2014

China O'Brien (1990)

Taking an action movie standard - that of the reluctant hero who heads home after a bad time and finds that corruption has started to hurt everyone and everything, and there's some cleaning up to do - and then putting Cynthia Rothrock in the lead role, China O'Brien is obviously nothing more than a star vehicle for the kickass leading lady.

Rothrock plays the titular character, a police officer who decides that it's time to quit the force and head back home after she shoots some punk kid in the face, or somewhere else that kills him. When she gets home she finds that . . . . . . . . . . . well, didn't you JUST read that paragraph above? Yep, China decides that she wants to help her beleaguered father (played by David Blackwell) to clean up the town, and loosen the grip that dastardly businessman Sommers (Steven Kerby) has on everything. And cleaning up requires punching and kicking people, of course. She is offered some help by an old flame named Matt (Richard Norton) and a young man out for revenge (Dakota, played by Keith Cooke).

Directed by Robert Clouse, who developed the script from the premise by Sandra Weintraub (but let's not dwell on the writing side of things just now), this is competent stuff for easily pleased action fans. It's not overly concerned with great dialogue or subtle characterisations, the villains are obviously villainous as soon as they appear onscreen and any spoken words are just being thrown around to link from one fight to the next. It's not the most action-packed movie, and the fights are far from the best that you'll see, but it's fun for those who can laugh at the lamer moments and then still enjoy the choreographed punching and kicking.

Rothrock isn't the best actress, but the same can be said of a number of action stars. She does have decent presence, however, and she pulls off some great moves in the fights. Norton and Cooke give her decent support, with both proving themselves just as capable in the martial arts stakes. The actors playing the baddies, I won't name them all just in case any viewers are surprised by the "plot twists", all look suitably pissed at the lead character. Job done.

One for easygoing action movie fans, or even fans of the leading lady, China O'Brien isn't unmissable, by any means, but it manages to stay just above average from start to finish.


Both China O'Brien movies are available on YouTube, but there's this double pack, with French subtitles that you can't turn off. Feel free to comment with any better options -

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