Bullet Points: China O’Brien
Cynthia Rothrock broke into the boys club that was the action movie genre in the latter half of the 1980’s. She was the star of several films including the movie I will discuss today, China O’Brien.
China O’Brien was produced by Golden Harvest, a company I will forever associate with Bruce Lee. The movie was directed by Robert Clouse, famous for helming Enter The Dragon. The three main actors in this one would return for the sequel, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
- The Backstory: China O’Brien is a cop in the big city, she’s really making a positive impact there instructing the officers in the world of martial arts. When one of her students, Termite, questions the use of martial arts out in the real world he challenges her to meet him and four of his friends in a dark alley later that evening… she’s a bad ass so she accepts. Termite actually gets attacked by some thugs while he’s waiting for China and his friends. When she shows up she is taking on actual muggers and instructing them the entire time, because she believes these are Termite’s boys. But when some of her cop friends show up to tell her this is the real deal, she acts quickly when one of the thugs pulls a gun on a fellow officer, she shoots him. When it was discovered that it was just a teenager, China vows to never touch a gun again and resigns from the police force. She heads home to the little town in Utah where she grew up.
- Home Sweet Home?: As is often the case in these types of movies, when China gets home she finds out that things aren’t as she left them. There’s a rich and powerful man in town known as Sommers. He’s got a big house, where he ties women up, drugs and booze are for the taking and he’s playing poker with the town’s judge and one of the deputies on the police force. With his money and his connections, Sommers is basically untouchable. Even by China’s dad, Sheriff O’Brien.
- Call The Feds: Realizing his hands are tied, Sheriff O’Brien decides he needs to go to the feds to help him bring justice back to his town. But Sommers mole inside the department, Lickner, tips him off. They come up with a permanent solution to the Sheriff O’Brien problem. They blow him up. And for good measure they blow up the other deputy on the force and friend of Sheriff O’Brien, Deputy Tyler. Now the only cop left in town is Lickner, he is made interim sheriff until an election is held in a few days.
- She’s The Sheriff: China O’Brien decides to follow in her father’s footsteps and run for sheriff. This obviously complicates Sommers plans for a total takeover of the town, especially since so many of the towns people are tired of being pushed around and living in fear and China has given them hope. According to IMDB trivia, the scene where China O’Brien is campaigning to be sheriff was filmed as part of an actual parade in Utah and the local radio station reported China O’Brien running for sheriff as actual news.
- Enter The Dakota: China can’t fight the corruption of Sommers all on her own, she has help from an old high school boyfriend, Matt Conroy (played by Richard Norton of Gymkata fame) and a mysterious loner on a motorcycle named Dakota. Dakota is played by Keith Cooke and he gets the “And Introducing” credit in the opening, which is big time. Cooke really does some amazing things, his one kick that takes out three guys was most impressive. I remember seeing him in Heatseeker way back when, a movie I’m sure will be covered on the site down the road. Dakota is no fan of Sommers after he whored Dakota’s mom out and eventually she ended up dead. In the movie, Dakota is one handed. Another bit of IMDB trivia, Cooke actually broke his hand prior to the filming, so they worked in a scene where he goes looking for his mother and Sommers’ thugs break his hand.
- The Good Fight: Cooke is not the only one who delivers in his fight scenes, veteran of the genre Norton does his part and Rothrock channels her inner Bruce Lee, being very vocal as she kicks ass. I was highly entertained. Ever see a ballot box get used as a weapon? You will in this movie. Ever see a guy beat up a fireman trying to put out a bonfire? You will in this movie. The quality fight scenes through out the movie made this an enjoyable viewing experience for me.
I am no expert on Cynthia Rothrock movies, but this movie has me curious about some of the other films in her filmography, so maybe in time I will become a Cynthia Rothrock expert.
Here’s what I do know… China O’Brien was ok with me. Following the basic laws of action movies with good guys you can get behind and bad guys you want to see perish. Who is going to support a rich bully like Sommers who kills people’s parents? Or the visually unappealing weasel known as Lickner? Nobody! So I was more than happy to see them get what they had coming to them.
Before I go I’d like to share two memorable quotes from the movie, both occurred when China visited the town’s watering hole, the Beaver Creek Inn.
- Memorable Quote #1: “I’m going to show these guys your ass.”
- Memorable Quote #2: “See that! She’s one of those chop suey fighters!”