* * *
Directed by: Robert Clouse
Starring: Cynthia Rothrock, Keith Cooke, and Richard Norton
(Rothrock) is a tough cop in the big city, who also happens to be a
karate instructor. After a shooting incident goes wrong, she is forced
to move back to the rural Utah town where she grew up, Beaver Creek.
Her father is the sheriff, and he does his best, but there is something
sinister brewing in this quiet burg. It appears corruption is rife and
it, naturally, goes all the way to the top. The mastermind of all this
is the sinister, but elderly Mr. Sommers (Kerby). Seeing Sheriff O’Brien
(Blackwell) as a threat to their small-town criminal empire, as he
cannot be bought off like the rest of the judges and law enforcement in
town, including the bowtied judge Godar (Hazlett), the baddies use their
preferred method of murder: they blow him up with a car bomb.
Distraught, China runs
for her father’s old position. Along the way she
reconnects with old flame Matt (Norton) and the mysterious but helpful
Dakota (Cooke). Luckily, the three of them have plenty of martial arts skill
and they take on an army of goons, because the only way for Beaver
Creek to be untainted with corruption is to punch and kick everyone in
As has been noted elsewhere, one of the major flaws in
China O’Brien is the lack of a powerful bad guy - at least one that can
do martial arts. Because the “bad guy” here is the nebulous notion of
“corruption”, and the man who has his fingers in all the interests of
the town looks more like he should be doing daytime TV commercials
complaining about his “diabetis”, the film’s end could be described as
an anti-climax. To add insult to injury, assuming you’ve seen it, the
plot and antagonist will remind you of Radical Jack (2000).
But all is
not lost, as Rothrock, Norton and Cooke clearly came to play, and all
three bring their physical
A-game. The prerequisite bar brawl and the high school gym sequence are
standouts, as is the confrontation at the political rally. Norton is
his usual likable self, and Cooke has some seriously impressive moves.
You’ll remember him as Prang from King of the Kickboxers (1990). But the star
of the show is obviously Rothrock, and she does a great job as the
crusading O’Brien. Fighting corruption is a theme everyone can get
behind, so you cheer for her all the way.
By action movie
standards, C O’B has a relatively slow pace, presumably to match the
slower pace of the boondocks in which the movie is set. In that sense
it’s appropriate, but fans may be puzzled by it.
The best way to describe this movie is “Americana with punching” - wouldn’t you love to see a Norman Rockwell painting of Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton pummeling the baddies into submission?
Break out the “good China” and see it
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett