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Author Topic: China O'Brien  (Read 2319 times)
clockworkcanary
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« on: November 28, 2006, 10:39:26 AM »



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Ah the 80s – what a time for martial arts flicks …well sorta.  It seemed that a few good entries during the 70s inspired a huge wave of cheaply made martial arts flicks with hundreds of Bruce Lee knockoffs or pseudo action stars.  By about the late 80s, this genre should have died.  Yeah Steven Segal’s movies were about as good as his energy drink;  Jeanne Claude Van Dam lived for the USA network; and Chuck Norris was meant for TBS.  But none of those movies compare…oh no.  Those movies at least had a budget.   Sure the guy who produced China O’Brien had some affiliation with Enter the Dragon, but that’s about it.  This movie, the epitome of 80s bad action flicks was released in the US in about 1990-1991, was obviously made at least five years before that. 

I chose China O’Brien because it was the worst martial arts action flick I can remember, at least from the late 80s/early 90s era.  Having many friends obsessed with the world of martial arts, I was meant to endure the worst of the worst in the plethora of the action world of fake punch sounds, obscure weapons, and a whole lotta lackies goin’ down.  Let me give my props to Cynthia Rothrock, who plays China – sure she’s all wooden but she was a legitimate competitor in the world of martial arts, holding many titles. 

Question before we get started: Why do martial artists in the 80s/90s have lame nicknames that are only remotely related to Asia?  Reminds me of the kids that used to have “Chinese” throwing stars when in fact, they were Japanese – I guess they figure Westerners wouldn’t know the difference.  Or maybe, at the time, when someone mentioned something about Martial Arts, the immediate thought marketers assumed was thoughts of China?!  <shrugs>.  Kinda reminds me of that scene in King of the Hill where they ask the neighbor if he’s from China or Japan…he replies he’s from Laos and they ask again if that’s in China or Japan.











Lessons Learned
People sound like bowling pins when they get knocked over
Car bombs, machine-gunning political rallies, and vote-tampering will not attract the attention of the Feds.
You can find a Bo staff about anywhere (a fire truck, a weight machine, etc.)
People that hang out at bars are always rude, crude, and perverted

Memorable Quotes
Bartender: "She's one of them chop suey fighters!"
Matt: "...well...that's just how people get [crazy]."
China :"I can't see you...but I can feel you"


Starting the Tape…

Ah old previews –always a treasure.  In this case, we get to see a preview of what I would call Mullet Kickboxer, “King of the Kickboxers” actually.  It’s some kind of sad knock-off of a Jeanne Claude Van Dam-him film …eee gads!   Try repeating that in your head a few times!

Training Class
The actual film starts to some rockin’ tune.  We have a dull opening in a martial arts training room.  China O’Brien is our teacher.  A guy named Termite (?!) – a big black dude decides he doesn’t care for the class and walks over to the water cooler for a nice refreshment.  China corrects him but he declares something about this mumbo jumbo not being to effective out on the street.  He challenges her to meet him and his friends for a little street test and she accepts.

Alley Fight
Later she arrives in an alley in the big city …she can’t see them but she can feel them.  She starts whipping one thug after another, giving them each a little lesson on the moves she’s using, describing in full detail what the move’s called and how it works.  All of this happens to a thunderous soundtrack that nearly drowns everything out; they need to seriously tone that down a notch.  This is when Muslim-Ass-Whipper jumps out, beats some ass, and informs China that these aren’t Termites friends – they are real thugs!  They kick some more ass together and China sees a hand with a gun come out of the shadows, about to shoot Termite, so she draws her gun and shoots, killing a kid.

Drive Home Montage
This naturally upsets her so she turns in her gun and badge and decides to go home.  She heads back to the small town where her dad is the sheriff while listening to a pre-Tori Amos (even pre-Y Kant Tori Read songs for diehard fans) …credited as Ellen Amos!  She listens to this rare track while thinking about the kid she shot while we get a nice small town montage, showing small town daily hard workin’ life.

She shows up at the police station but her dad’s not there.  Deputy Shady Mullet is there …postponing a call from Sommers, the local big boss.  He tells her that the sheriff is at the Beavercreek Inn.  Flash to the bar and we see the sheriff arresting an Ogre-clone.  Apparently this is one rough bar!   China gets in her car when an old friend, Matt, jogs by and says hello.  She heads over to the bar.

The Beaver Creek Inn pt 1
The sheriff hauls Ogre-clone to jail and the lawyer is already waiting with bail money.  Apparently, for some reason, the big boss likes the ogre-clone and keeps bailing him out.  China shows up at the bar but her dad’s long gone.  An old school friend, some fugly woman, recognizes China and tries to start some $hit, even threatening her, “I’m gonna show these guys your ass!”  China will have none of this and proceeds to lay out a couple hilljacks that try to grab her.   A strange, long-haired, one-armed minority motorcyclist with a bandana watches from the corner and even helps beat some ass too.

Another hillbilly tries to grab her, “she promised us a show” and she proceeds to beat the snot out of him too.  The innkeeper spouts probably the funniest line, “she’s one of those chop suey fighters!”  After she walks out, a group of thugs tries to follow her, “where you goin?” and she kicks them and they all fall to the sound of bowling pins crashing.

Dinner with Dad
Now it’s time for dinner with dad.  China, dad, and the good deputy all have dinner together.  China learns that things aren’t the same as when she left town years ago.  Evidently she hasn’t been back to visit at all.  Good deputy hints that everything is owned pretty much by the big boss, Sommers.  The phone rings and it’s Matt …he’s wasted no time chasing China.  Dad gives us some exposition about Matt.  Apparently, he’s been in Special Forces and has come back to town to teach –that’ll come in handy later.   Folks, we have our third ass kicker.

Bad Guy™ Poker Game
Now we switch to the poorest introduction of a main villain I think I’ve ever had to endure.  We meet Mr. Sommers during a ruthless game of poker.  Did I say ruthless?  I think I meant “boring as hell”  At this poker game we meet some of the mini-bosses – the lawyer we met before, Deputy Shady Mullet, and the big boss Sommers himself, a poor man’s capitalist.  Apparently he’s really evil because he’s got some woman upstairs tied up and he does something unmentionable to her (the camera doesn’t let us see but we witness the poker players smiling when they hear the woman screaming and apparently being hit).  I guess we’ve established this guy is really mean and his lackies are bastards.

China and Matt have coffee …yeah that’s what the kids are calling it these days.  We learn more about how the town has changed for the worse and this Special Forces guy has just been letting it happen.   He talks about “new people” and how things need to change.

Meanwhile, we see the big boss and some lackies show up at some factory.  They go in a small office that looks more like a closet where they kill “Raymond” for screwing with the boss. I don’t know who the hell Raymond is or why we, the audience should care but ok, the boss is bad …he’s a bad, bad guy…we get it.  Back to China and dad – the phone rings …it’s Jake the wood cutter and he’s super p**sed that a rival company is stealing his timber.

The Construction Yard
China, dad, and Jake arrive.  Dakota follows on his motorcycle.  China apparently solves the case of the information leak at the office regarding Shady Mullet in all of 24 hours since her arrival.  What kind of sheriff does this town have?    Jake, “pardon my French ma’am” accuses the other company of stealing his marked timber.  They deny it and the sheriff threatens to shut ‘em down.  Everyone gets into a big fight. 

Here’s where I was dumbfounded… Jesus shows up with a sniper rifle, ready to get all Stahlingrad and frag some punks.  See, I knew he was totally pro-gun! Heh j/k.  Dakota sneaks up on him and takes him out before he can do any damage.  Then Dakota does a slow motion double kick to two swamp hippies at the same time.  We switch to China vs. a chainsaw but she dodges well enough.  Ass-kickings ensue and we cut to the next scene.

Judge Judy
Now we’re in the smallest People’s Court where a judge, clearly one of the big boss’s pawns, lets the timber company off and threatens the sheriff and China for taking the law into her own hands.  They leave the courtroom and Jake is furious.  Dad suggests calling in the Feds sometime in the future, something he should have done a long time ago and something he shouldn’t really need to have five discussions about –he should just do it. 

Car Bomb Trouble
Sheriff and good deputy go to the back room at the station to discuss calling the Feds but Deputy Shady Mullet has them bugged via a fuse box somehow.  Next thing you know, Dad and good deputy both die in car bombs.  Now I’m not sure about you but I would think that two car bombs on law enforcement agents would attract the attention of the Federal Government faster than anything but we don’t need that kind of logic in this film.

Funeral
Cut to the graveyard funeral scene with some mullet pallbearers.  China and Matt talk about an emergency election for the Sheriff while Dakota lurks in the background.  Deputy Shady Mullet assumes he’ll win election and nominates himself as the new sheriff.  When China and Matt arrive at the station to get her dad’s things, Sommers is there!   China announces her run for the upcoming election (in five days) and takes her dad’s badge.  Apparently the Ogre-clone is a new deputy …go figure.

Campaign Time
Then they gear up for the campaign.  Matt organizes a parade and motivates some elderly to help volunteer.  We see a huge campaign montage – passing out fliers, posting bulletins, talking to the townsfolk, and shaking hands.  They even set up a rally.  I have a question – where did they get all this money for campaign expenses?  Parades aren’t cheap! 

It’s rally time.  Dakota shows up again but this time the bad cops and the big boss notice him as they watch from a distance, “we’ll have to remind them where the power is”  China does a real wooden speech and normal people cheer.  All the sudden, the evil fire department show up to put out the bonfire and Matt will have none of it so he attacks (!?).  The fire burns on but then some suits show up.  I guess the big boss figured out that the local hicks aren’t cutting the mustard so he’s outsourced some yuppies.    All hell breaks loose…ok more like heck…anyway here’s another big fight.

Rally Fight
A huge Jebadiah-guy shows up – an angry amish man and a huge black dude get into the action!  The big boss has lackies from all over the place!  A big mullet attacks Dakota.  Matt breaks off a Bo staff from the fire truck (?!) and beats some ass.  Jebadiah attacks China with a microphone stand but she dodges like mad and wraps him up with the cord as the crowd cheers.  They beat up all the lackies and call it a day.

The next day, China is being followed by the b***hy woman from the bar who wanted to bare her ass earlier in the film.  She tries to talk to China alone …tells her about the whoring and how everyone’s afraid…yadda yadda yadda.  She accuses Sommers of killing her father.  Someone drives by and she knows she’s been seen with China so she takes off.

Matt and China talk about Dakota as they’ve noticed him following them and helping with the beatings-of-the-ass!    They lure him to talk – try to get him to follow them and Matt plants a big wet kiss on China.  Dakota does some quick machining work on his hand to operate his bike.

Meet Dakota
They catch Dakota and talk with him a little bit.  He says they’re on the same side and China thanks him for helping her earlier.  They go back to China’s place for some cornflakes and Dakota gives us all the flashback we’ve been waiting for …explaining why the hell he’s even in this movie.  Apparently, his dad left town, he left town for races, came back, visited her in the bar, the innkeeper acts like a dick, some hilljacks take him outside and beat him up, then they crush his hand, and since then his mother’s been missing.  Man that bar is strict about visiting family during working hours – damn! 

Suddenly China gets a call from a mysterious woman warning of a car bomb in her trunk.  What is it with these car bombs in the late 80s?  They call in the bomb squad and check the trunk but it’s only the dead body of the woman who tried to warn her earlier.  Man the bad guys are soo…well…bad.   Of course the Shady Mullet Deputy Lickna comes over and does everything but accuse them of murder. 

Full Contact Election Day
Election time – Matt assigns a few students to each polling place to ensure accurate counting and to watch for dimpled chads.   Meanwhile the bad guys discuss how they are going to rig this election with the new diebold machines.   Bad cops and lackies show up at various polling places and harass the pollsters and counters…like any of this wouldn’t arouse the suspicion of the media and/or the Federal government, but anyway.  Some lackies start beating up the kids who are monitoring and they call for help. 

Big Fight in the Gym
This is the infamous (or lousy …you choose) fight in the weight room.  Highlights include swinging weights, Matt doing a full frontal body splash on a swamp hippy, a weight thrower, and Matt putting some guy down with the sleeper hold.  China pulls a Bo staff from a weight machine (?!) and commences to bust some ass.  Matt does a foot sweep and everyone fights like mad to a metal soundtrack in the background.    All the punches and kicks are over-the-top loud or sound like bowling pins.

Election Results
China wins!  It’s celebration time!  Matt gives China her dad’s badge, which I thought she already had.  Anyway, more suits show up with machine guns, which would never arouse the interest of the Feds.  A few people get gunned down but none of the main players.  Dakota gets their license number before they drive off.  China and Matt go visit the judge to get swore in immediately.  They inform him of what just happened and he could care less and seems less than eager to swear her in.  Matt grabs him and threatens him.  Judge calls them crazy and Matt retorts, “well…that’s just how people get!” haha that Matt. 

China acts quick and deputizes Dakota and the jocks from Matt’s class to some rockin’ tunes.   The jocks go bust some whorehouse.  China has her deputies bulldoze some distributor’s house – talk about being blunt!   Sommer’s assets are all frozen so Boss orders his chopper filled with gas.  China and crew show up at the Inn for round 2.  Dakota recognizes the car from the night before.  Shady Mullet opens fire on them while they spin out in the police car.  Dakota has had enough so he jumps his motorcycle through the window without a single laceration!  He pins the innkeeper, keeping him from firing his rifle. 

Beaver Creek Inn pt 2
The second fight in the inn – this time it’s bigger.  China attacks a pudge with the freezer door(!), someone takes a soda canister to the head, and someone rips a floor board out and goes to town on some rednecks.  Shady Mullet tries to get the innkeeper’s gun but Dakota stops him.  Dakota makes him talk –learns that Sommers has his mother tied up in his upstairs!   Matt fights a tougher suit who seems to last longer than the others so far but he wins via bookcase! Dakota takes off towards Sommer’s before he can escape.  China, still fighting, actually gets hit in the face but then she beats Ogre-clone’s ass. 

Barnyard Chasedown
Dakota chases Sommers to the horsebarn (?!) and he has to defend himself against goons with pitchforks.  Dakota yells one guy to the ground after giving him the beating (watch this part to make sense of this lol and you’ll see what I mean).  China and Matt show up, we hear some gun shots, then we get a close up of Dakota holding Sommers at gunpoint.  They handcuff him, arrest him, and walk out and all the sudden there’s a gunshot from an upstairs window!  Dakota’s mom somehow got free, found a loaded gun, and arrived at the window just at the right time to shoot him down!  I’m not sure if she gets arrested for murder …the story ignores all of that.

Next thing you know, the jock deputies turn in their badge while China tries to convince Dakota to be her deputy.  Matt says they can discuss it over some beer!  Credits roll to some hard-rockin tunes.

The End
« Last Edit: November 30, 2006, 09:20:06 AM by clockworkcanary » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2006, 06:35:11 PM »

This review feels less linear and more divided into sections than your previous.  That could be due to the quality of the film, because I do not remember many of Ms. Rothrock's films being anything more than barely fit for human viewing.  Heck, I could often deal with Don "The Dragon" Wilson's stuff better, because he seemed to take on more nonsensical stuff, like fighting vampires.
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clockworkcanary
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2006, 08:13:38 AM »

Yeah the choppiness may be partly due to the pacing of the film but I'm sure my writing is a little clunky having watched this movie twice (the pain) and immediately writing about it, effectively running it through my brain three consequitive times.  I may give it a few days rest and come back and edit/touch it up.  Luckily, I had the Lawnmower Man to watch a few times as well, which is goofy in some ways but is not painful.  Thanks for reading.
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2007, 02:12:04 PM »

I remember these movies.... was there not a China O'Brain 2 and maybe 3 also??
Also didn't she and Richard Norton star in several films together?
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clockworkcanary
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2007, 04:24:33 PM »

I know there is at least one sequel, which, unbelievably is a lot worse than this one I've been told.  From what I've read, those two were in a string of movies together, although I haven't been brave enough to endure any of them yet.  This one was bad enough.

I had a thought to do a write up on another bad action movie here in the near future but this time from a D&D perspective :)  ...but I got too much in the queue atm.
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