Righting Wrongs (Corey Yuen, 1986) — July 5, 2013
“So we had this theme, but there was too much dialogue. So I said ‘why not add some action, some fighting?’” — Yuen Biao
Stuntmen make the craziest movies.
Added March 4, 2018:
It’s like Corey Yuen and Yuen Biao watched the last 15 minutes of Police Story and said, “Anything Jackie can do, we can do better, crazier, and more destructively.”
Millionaire’s Express (Sammo Hung, 1986) — September 26, 2013
Like one of those all-star light adventure comedies Hollywood put out in the era between, say, Around the World in 80 Days and Cannonball Run (big cast, little plot, less character), but this one has Sammo Hung fighting Cynthia Rothrock so it’s pretty good.
Added July 30, 2017:
Maybe the best cast of any 1980s Hong Kong film, but it feels like it could have used another hour of plot. As it is, things don’t make a lot of sense and subplots are dropped wholesale during the big final fight (Jimmy Wang Yu and Shih Kien, for example). Tremendous falling from buildings though.
Magic Crystal (Wong Jing, 1986) — January 2, 2014
Bears a superficial resemblance to a motion picture.
Andy Lau plays an Aces Go Places-esque adventurer/thief/friend of cops who goes to Greece to help a friend, who has found a jade relic with magical powers and is being chased by the KGB, led by Richard Norton. He takes his useless sidekick Wong Jing along with him, as well as his nephew (aged six or thereabouts). There’s a chase, and Cynthia Rothrock and some other guy as Interpol agents, and somehow the friend ends up captured while the kid gets the rock (this part doesn’t quite make sense).
Back in the US, the friend’s sister, Sharla Cheung, is attacked by men hired by Norton, and Andy defends her along with a creepy dumb guy who’s stalking her. They all move into Andy’s sister’s house where the rock bonds emotionally with the kid and punishes the dumb guy for his creepiness by switching his hands and feet. Shih Kien appears around this point as Andy’s cop buddy, then the KGB kills him. The dumb guy gets driven crazy by the rock and Sharla disappears from the story completely and with no explanation while Andy, Cynthia, Andy’s sister, the other Interpol guy, and Wong (for some reason) attack the KGB warehouse.
Then they all follow the kid to Greece (except for Andy’s sister, a terrific fighter who also disappears from the narrative with no explanation, why wouldn’t she go to Greece after her son?). They enact the last 20 minutes or so of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, except it makes slightly more sense. The End.
The only really “good” thing about the film are the fights, Andy Lau and the stunt team do a passable job, but Rothrock and Norton are pretty terrific in their scenes. And Wong, if nothing else, certainly has a knack for the surreal, even if it’s through sheer accident. IMDB says Norton only had one outfit to wear for the entire shoot, they had to repeatedly dry the sweat out of it on set, which sounds about right.
The Blonde Fury (Mang Hoi, 1989) – July 26, 2020
Cynthia Rothrock vehicle that's kind of a showcase for Sammo Hung's late 80s stock company. Mang Hoi directs. Normally an action director and supporting actor, maybe most recognizable as one of Sammo's buddies in Pedicab Driver, this is his second of only two directorial credits. He does the choreography along with Corey Yuen, and the plot is more or less a rehash of Yuen's Righting Wrongs, with Rothrock as an American cop sent undercover to Hong Kong to bust a counterfeiting ring run by Ronny Yu, director of The Bride with White Hair. Mang Hoi plays a reporter who gets mixed up in the case while Chin Siu-ho plays an annoying cop. Other familiar faces abound: Wu Ma, Melvin Wong, Billy Chow, Roy Chiao.
Sloppily put together, and not very funny, it's nothing more or less than an excuse to see some excellent fight scenes and stunt work. It's the kind of movie that makes you appreciate why the great Hong Kong films of this period (including Rothrock vehicles Yes, Madam and Righting Wrongs) truly are great.
Martial Law (Steve Cohen, 1990) – May 15, 2022
It's incredibly weird seeing Cynthia Rothrock speaking English instead of dubbed into Cantonese. Also she has the same haircut as a girlfriend I had in high school, so I've a lot of conflicting emotions here.
It's bracing watching an American movie like this after seeing so many Hong Kong films from the same time, and a reminder of just how much different, and better, the Hong Kong filmmakers were are not just choreographing and performing, but filming and editing fight scenes. We know for a fact that Rothrock can fight, though I'm not so sure about Chadwick Steven McQueen, but director Steve Cohen does his best to hide it. Maybe he’s better off owning the Mets.
This has Benny "The Jet" Urquidez in it and films extensively in his gym (The Jet Center) but he's on-screen for only about two minutes. He fights Rothrock, but you'd never know it.
Martial Law II: Undercover (Kurt Anderson, 1991) – May 16, 2022
Comes very close but ultimately fails to fulfill my long-held desire to see Cynthia Rothrock beat the shit out of the director of Atlas Shrugged: Part One.
A definite improvement on the first film: Rothrock gets more to do, Jeff Wincott is more convincing as both an actor and fighter than Chadwick Steven McQueen, and it features Billy Drago in a miniature romantic tragedy.
Rage and Honor (Terence H. Winkless, 1992) – May 16, 2022
Cynthia Rothrock invites us to experience the art of martial science.
Richard Norton beats up a guy who dares to suggest that he’s not Australian but is, in fact, Canadian.
The villains are named "Rita Carrion" and "Conrad Drago".
“You could say you’d give me a million dollars if I could tell you what my profession was in Rage and Honor and I couldn’t do it.” Rothrock talking to Vern and Matt on the Scarecrow livestream this past weekend.