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China O'Brien (1990)

R | | Action | 1992 (Peru)
China O'Brien; big city police woman; martial arts trainer, is forced to hand in her badge and head home to her father and the small town where she grew up. The peaceful town she knew is ... See full summary »



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Martial Law (Video 1990)
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An undercover cop teams up with a martial-arts expert to stop a gang of drug smugglers and car thieves.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
China O'Brien
Matt Conroy
Doug Wright ...
Arturo Rivera ...
Scott McMillan ...
Police Captain
Patrick Adamson ...
David Blackwell ...
Sheriff O'Brien
Chad Walker ...
Deputy Tyler
Stanton Davis ...
Robert Tiller ...
Lainie Watts ...
Jaren Harbrecht ...
Man in Bar
Rip Black ...


China O'Brien; big city police woman; martial arts trainer, is forced to hand in her badge and head home to her father and the small town where she grew up. The peaceful town she knew is now struggling against the clutches of organized crime. When her father, the town sheriff, is killed China decides to run for his position and clean up the town. The poll results spark a series of confrontations that finally decide who runs the town . . . Written by Mark Harding <mah@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She is the ultimate weapon. See more »




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Release Date:

1992 (Peru)  »

Also Known As:

China O'Brian  »

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Did You Know?


The scene in which Cynthia Rothrock rides a car down the street to promote her character's run for sheriff was filmed during an actual parade in Utah. The spectators, organizers, and press were not alerted to this, and the local radio station reported her fictional run for sheriff as fact. See more »


Referenced in Zen and Now: A Dinner with David Carradine & Friends (2004) See more »


Written by Michael Lloyd
Courtesy Michael Music & Wheatley Music USA
See more »

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User Reviews

B-movie martial arts excellence
29 December 2015 | by See all my reviews

Martial arts supremo Cynthia Rothrock (think: the American equivalent of Michelle Yeoh) heads the cast in this engaging straight-to-video effort that packs more punch than a dozen similar offerings, thanks to the surehand direction of Robert Clouse (down on his luck, but occasionally recalling his ENTER THE DRAGON glory days) and a ton of scintillating action scenes that never let up. The film has an almost Jackie Chan-style atmosphere going on in the various battles, as our three heroes use all manner of scenery and props to battle and bruise the gangs of bad guy henchmen that pop up at every opportunity to do some damage. Fridge doors flip into faces, dumbbells smack the faces of the unwary, bodies smash into mirrors and there's almost as smashing glass as in the finale of POLICE STORY (well, not quite).

After a decent run of Chinese films in the late '80s, Rothrock was billed as the next martial arts sensation a la Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal et al. Well, that never happened, and Rothrock has never risen from the straight-to-video genre, but that's the general population's problem, not the B-movie fan's. Because Rothrock kicks ass. She also happens to be lithe, sexy and quite sweet, but the main emphasis is on her ass-kicking prowess and it never lets up. Whether kicking some Chinese guy's head in slow-motion across the room, breaking a bad guy's neck or punching a hulking brute of a man out with one hit, Rothrock lights up the screen with a martial arts energy possessed by only a few. Here, she's equalled by Richard Norton, another crossover from Hong Kong cinema and Jackie Chan's regular sparring partner. Norton is alive, his flame burning with kung fu excellency, and watching him whup ass over and over again is a real treat. The final member of the heroic trio is the unknown Keith Cooke, whose body seems possessed with the spirit of Bruce Lee in his great fights.

The plot is a highly predictable one that reminded me of WALKING TALL. There's a rough town out in the wilderness that needs cleaning up – so step in Rothrock, Norton and Cooke. Most of the other cast members are relatively unskilled, both in acting and in martial arts. None of the opponents really provide the heroes with a real test of their skills, like you'd seen in an '80s Hong Kong film; all are knocked cold after a few moves. Most of the actors were seemingly hired on the street, boasting this sole film on their CV; even the bad guy Sommers, played by Steven Kerby, only ever appeared in this one film. The only other distinguished person in the cast is Patrick Adamson, who makes his corrupt cop loathsome without even really seeming to act much – I guess that means kudos is deserved for this man.

So, in all, CHINA O'BRIEN is a B-movie martial arts flick that covers old ground but covers it in such an exciting, well-directed way that you'll end up loving it. Massive bouts in a school gym and a bar-room brawl are the real highlights of the movie, but it all moves so fast and with such a pace that you'll never resort to checking your watch. The three good guys returned for CHINA O'BRIEN II; and I'll sure as hell be checking that one out as well!

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