Martial Law (1990)
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Wincott plays Det. Sean Thompson Sean and Cynthia Rothrock returns as Billie Blake. They are (obviously) undercover cops and martial arts masters. Investigating the death of a cop, they uncover a deadly ring of murder and corruption at a glitzy nightclub where the rich are entertained by seductive women and protected by martial arts experts. Billie goes undercover to infiltrate the crime ring, leading to an explosive finale.
Viewer Quote: \"Here's a martial art film I say is a real keeper. \"Martial Law\" is fine, fast, and running and it's full of great action. The fight scenes in this film are well done and the best is saved for last, the excellent David Carradine shows that he had a few tricks of his own when one on one with McQueen. I definitely recommend this film to anyone that loves martial arts action and the lovely Cynthia Rothrock.YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:Martial Law II DVD (1991). starring Jeff Wincott, Bridgette NielsenMartial Outlaw DVD (1993), starring Jeff WincottMission of Justice DVD (1992), starring Jeff Wincott, Bridgette NielsenAngel of Fury (1992), starring Cynthia RothrockHonor and Glory (1993), starring Cynthia Rothrock
Martial Law is an underrated martial arts action film that has some pretty good fight scenes and a revenge-driven story. Chad McQueen and Cynthia Rothrock are in top form and David Carradine and Philip Tan are worthy opponents.
I've yet to watch a movie starring Cynthia Rothrock that wasn't rife with peculiarities, and at that, usually all the same ones. Her films are generally blunt and over the top in most significant aspects, including writing and acting if not also direction, and often ham-handed and inauthentic on top. She's not uncommonly no more than second fiddle in her own starring vehicles - and yet for all that, the fight choreography is broadly well done. It's an odd mixture at all times, and 'Martial law' doesn't try hard to convince us that it's any different. From excessive sound cues (such \"whooshes\" as fists or feet flying through the air or hitting their marks), to massively done-up and visually distinct hair, makeup, or costume design; from small, gratuitous flourishes, to an enjoyable but curious score from Elliot Solomon that oscillates between guitar fireworks, fanfare that wouldn't sound out of place opening 'Saturday Night Live,' and synth-driven ambient pieces - there's a lot going on here. Most prominent actor Chad McQueen, playing actual protagonist Thompson, really does look like a Joe Piscopo impersonator; a scene set in a nightclub features a very 80s hair metal band and song (accordingly Tempest, performing \"Sauza\" - I won't lie, I liked it); and there's a brusqueness to the execution of some action sequences that somewhat defies suspension of disbelief.Through it all, I'm surprised to find myself thinking that 'Martial law' is, in some ways, better than I anticipated. Maybe it's director Steve Cohen's guidance of the cast that we have to thank, but the acting feels unexpectedly restrained and sober compared to other Rothrock films. For all the flair here and there, including sequencing and otherwise editing that echoes that cheeky tenor, it almost seems like the production is played straight, declining the greater bombast we're used to seeing from her and those with whom she shares the screen. David Carradine, Philip Tan, John Fujioka - and yes, even Rothrock - all show glimmers of real nuance in their acting that's a far cry from the tomfoolery we saw in, say, 'Honor and glory,' or 'Tiger claws.' Even when performances are overdone (for better or worse I'm looking at you, Vincent Craig Dupree), it's unmistakably intentional, and though he has a small part, it's always a minor joy to see Professor Toru Tanaka. The cinematography and sound design are crisp and clear, the orchestration of every shot and scene is suitable - honestly, in a lot of ways, 'Martial laws seems pretty well made.The biggest question,though, is of course the writing. Richard Brandes doesn't have a lot of credits to his name in that capacity, with one of the few others being this picture's sequel. There's no substantial depth to most characters, and they mostly fill familiar action-thriller crime flick archetypes. There's occasional cleverness to the dialogue, but so much of it just feels unremarkable and downright uninteresting. The scene writing is a little stronger, but varies wildly in accordance with the needs of the story - some bits seem well thought out and work to engage our attention, advance the plot, or enrich the experience as a whole, while other instances just feel overblown or unnecessary. And as to that plot: it's complete, coherent, and cohesive. It's also oafishly slow and meandering as it switches gears at intervals from criminal enterprise, to criminal investigation, to family drama, and back again, with martial arts sprinkled throughout. For that matter: apart from some key scenes, the cinema-ready disciplines are weirdly deemphasized in the screenplay, letting the other elements take precedence to the disadvantage of 'Martial law' - while antagonist Rhoades' (Carradine) signature finishing move is overused until it fails to provide invigoration. The result of it all is a title that's hard to get excited about, not least of all as the core plot doesn't seem to go much of anywhere until the last third of the runtime, and even then it comes and goes with minimal impact.The feature has a leg up on some of its brethren when it comes to technical craft, so I suppose that's worth something. But even if we generously put aside the major dearth of screen time for top-billed Rothrock, which still blows my mind, there's still so little about the movie that inspires, or gets the blood flowing. As the length lackadaisically saunters to the climax - and a final fight that is admittedly quite well done - one can't help but ask what it was all for. Everyone involved does their part, more or less - so what I'd much sooner watch a romp buzzing with ridiculous, exaggerated ham-handedness and questionable construction than a solidly built snooze. Unfortunately, by and large, that's just what we get in 'Martial law,' and I wonder if I'm not being too kind in my assessment as it stands.What's kind of sad is that it really didn't have to be this way. More than anything else, all the feature needed was more martial arts - and, once more to highlight, more Rothrock - to improve upon the actual finished product. Oh well. Cautiously recommendable for martial arts fanatics and utmost fans of the cast, and halfheartedly enjoyable for those receptive to all the wide variety that cinema has to offer. There's just no need to seek this out, though, and actively keep your expectations in check if you decide to sit for it nonetheless.
I have never seen a film with Cynthia before this one with the exception of the much newer Santa's Summer Home and she was pretty cute in that one, in this one she blew my mind with her cuteness. Her yells as she does her karate and kicks are even cute! If she were kicking my butt, I would also be falling in love. Unfortunately, she is paired with the not nearly as charismatic as his father, Chad McQueen and the film is not as good as it could be due to this and a few questionable decisions in terms of plot and such.The plot has a guy who is an excellent martial arts cop whom they refer to as Martial Law! His brother though is a dumb dude who wants to work for David Carradine who is an evil dude who demonstrates his karate prowess by taking out the James Bond villain Oddjob! His brother actually does a good job for Carradine, but the problem is some crazy dude really wants to work for Carradine again despite the fact Carradine loathes him. So the younger brother ends up dead and Martial Law must be enacted along with his super cute girlfriend!David Carradine is pretty good in this and does good as the bad guy. Too bad they could not come up with a better fight for him and Chad at the end because it was a letdown after all the buildup. I much preferred Cynthia's portion of the fight with the guy with the heavy British accent, mainly because I enjoyed watching her beat him up as much as I enjoyed watching that crazy guy who wanted a job finally being killed! Seriously, Carradine did not like you, what did you think he was going to doSo it had some good action and watching Cynthia made my heart aflutter; however, the disappointing final contest between Chad and David plus David's lack of charisma dropped this film down a notch. There is a sequel to this and Chad is gone and I think Cynthia is the star so I will have to check that one out for sure! This one is not bad, bad and was entertaining, it just needed a bit of work.
In terms of early '90s martial arts vehicles for Cynthia Rothrock, I really enjoyed CHINA O'BRIEN and its sequel, which were thoroughly entertaining and full of slick action. This film, not so much. It's saddled with the chubby and decidedly uncharismatic Chad McQueen as the lead, and the storyline and action just aren't interesting enough to get excited about.The plot sees McQueen and Rothrock going up against a minor crime lord, played with overacting relish by David Carradine. Philip Tan is the Cockney-speaking henchman, and there's a hell of a lot of scenes of Rothrock kicking various goons in the head, but it's all underwhelmingly shot with below par choreography. I suppose if you're in a deeply forgiving mood then this sort of thing might just about pass muster, but it's not my cup of tea at all.
In May, the first multiparty elections in Burma in thirty years were held, with the main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), winning an overwhelming majority. Although the balloting itself is thought to have been relatively free and fair, tight martial-law restrictions prevented any real campaigning by political parties, and many party activists reported constant harassment by military authorities. SLORC also refused