Cynthia Rothrock: the queen of 90s kung fu

Originally published at: Cynthia Rothrock: the queen of 90s kung fu | Boing Boing


She dropped some Kung Fu on bad Mofo’s.


She’s bad ass, no doubt!



Choosing my favorite kung fu era is like performing an impromptu remake of Sophie’s Choice .

Having not seen “Sophie’s Choice”, I momentarily questioned if it was actually a kung-fu flick before questioning my reading comprehension.


Her debut (along with Michelle Yeoh’s first starring role) in 1985’s Yes Madam is IMO the greatest all-around 1980s HK action film. Not to mention the several ‘Lucky Stars’ (Sammo Hung, John Shum, Richard Ng, etc) featured heavily.


Brilliant final fight scene:


Ha! I watched so many of these at the time. She was absolutely queen of the bad martial arts movies.

This was also the era of the Sho Kosugi ninja movies, then a wee bit later all of the “American Ninja” movies.

First time I realized that Ninjas can do their eyeliner beautifully!


I remember watching “USA up all night” on Saturday evenings they would play old kung-fu and action movies on there and it seemed like Cynthia Rothrock was in every other kung-fu movie. She did kick a whole lot of butt. I feel like WGN also had kung-fu marathons every so often it’s hard to keep track of as living in Alaska as a kid in the 80’s we had this bizarre TV station called RATNET (Rural Alaska TV Network) and it was an unholy combination of the PBS, WGN, ABC, NBC, USA. As a single channel playing all kinds of stuff. If you lived in some of the smaller villages or remote borough’s it was most likely the only channel you could get over the air.

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American Ninja… hearing that name the 80’s crawled out of my parents shag carpet and slapped me upside the head for forgetting that “masterpiece”


Hell yeah! She had the patented behind-and-over-the-back kick. Amazing! Check it out at :52. China O Brien - YouTube


Cynthia Rothrock paid her dues. Very skilled, but was still doubled for some acrobatics by HK stuntmen. Love how they didn’t even bother with a wig :slight_smile:

Another tough as nails stunt performer who paid her dues in HK is Sophia Crawford, who was an actress and model who was cast in a film after being asked if she could fight, and didn’t realize that having some British stage combat experience was not remotely what they meant by their standards.

"Sophia Crawford spent five years honing her skills, and she became Hong Kong’s first full-time female villain. This landed her under the tutelage of Hong Kong’s well-known female action star, Yukari Oshima. Sophia soon became the first Western woman to join an all-Asian stunt group, Yukari’s Funky Action Crew. After fighting her way through over thirty action-packed movies, Sophia earned a reputation as the top female foil for Chinese actresses to battle against. "

Later she was the double for the Pink Ranger in the US Power Rangers and Buffy’s stunt double.


I could watch that clip over and over. Ric Meyers showed this clip during the HK film panel at San Diego in 2002, and I immediately went to his booth following the presentation and bought this (and a bunch of other films) on disc. I still watch Yes Madam 1-2 times a year!


A real legend; “Yes, Madam” is a legit classic for genre. I also heard Cynthia Rothrock was also the inspiration for the Mortal Kombat character Sonya Blade. Credentials.

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I just couldn’t relate to straight to VHS films. If they couldn’t get a theatrical run I just wasn’t interested. Of course back then Downtown Boston had at least a dozen theaters.

I’m also more into those costumed Qing dynasty flicks. I’d take 5 Fingers of Death over any more modern settings kung fu movie.

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