Over the years I’ve witnessed a lot of “hate” towards Seagal and Van Damme movies. While I understand this negativity towards a lot of the direct-to-video movies these guys have produced mostly during the 00’s my opinion is that most of their early work is pretty watchable and fun. I admit they’re mostly simple tournament/revenge movies but their made with a decent amount of skill and thus pretty enjoyable. To point out the fact that these movies are pretty good and they could be a lot worse one only has to look at China O’Brien.
The gimmick of China O’Brien is that the martial artist in this movie is a woman. Cynthia Rothrock plays the titular character and has a line delivery that actually makes Steven Seagal look like a true thespian. But bad acting aside these movies are mostly judged by the fight scenes and there are enough of them. Sadly the director gives them hardly any flair and to be honest, while skilled enough Rothrocks moves hardly seem to pack any punch. The first fight is in an alley and Rothrock thinks she’s there to demonstrate fighting techniques to some street punks but is unaware the guys she’s fighting are actually out to kill her (don’t ask), so she takes them all out with a variety of martial arts moves explaining to them (and us) what kind of move she performs. This is all very annoying and it’s hard to take her seriously especially since she’s wearing an outfit that screams “80s”.
The movie has her going back to her small village where she meets up with her Sheriff Dad and is witness to how this village is being run by criminals. They kill her dad, place a corrupt Sheriff in her place and surprise, surprise, she goes out for revenge…
By having herself get elected as Sheriff by the townspeople!
Yup, what could have been a simple and fun revenge movie suddenly becomes an election movie halfway through. Luckily the bad guys try to rig the election so there’s enough ass-kicking to be done.
China O’Brien is a bad movie. It’s badly paced, badly choreographed, badly scripted and badly acted. There isn’t a decent actor in the movie. Too bad it never reaches the so bad it’s good region because then it could have been some genuine fun.