One name that popped up throughout my formative years as a genre addict was that of Cynthia Rothrock, the martial arts and action movie heroine who has starred in more films than I have had hot dinners, and that's a hell of a lot of dinners.
The blonde ass-kicker first came to my attention via a big-box copy of the first CHINA O'BRIEN movie, then its sequel, and then titles like UNDEFEATABLE, HONOR AND GLORY and a ton of others. After a while I discovered her earlier years as a Hong Kong action star, in films that came across as harder-edged versions of Jackie Chan's Police Story movies.
Often derided for her acting ability, I personally think that Cynthia is one of the greatest stars of action cinema, ever. Her films rarely disappoint, and in fact films like Guardian Angel or Lady Dragon outstrip many bigger budget flicks in terms of entertainment value. She is a diminutive figure, but there is never any doubt that she could tear you limb from limb, and even though some of her roles have been painful to watch (Sci-Fighter) or just kinda nonsensical (her cameo in 24 Hours To Midnight, before she puts on a mask and is suddenly played by someone else for the whole film), she puts in a great effort every time.
A lot of the films she has featured in do follow a certain blueprint, but hey, don't all action movies follow a set routine? Just enjoy them. Basically, Cynthia's films tend to be centred around any possible method of getting her to kick people's backsides as often as possible. This is no bad thing, as Cynthia is a former Karate world champion (many times over) and is one of the most consistently entertaining and exciting martial arts movie stars to watch onscreen.
Yes, some of the films are formulaic (Undefeatable is a prime example), but they are a ton of fun too, and who can't fail to enjoy watching her beat the crap out of the bad guys? In addition, from what I have read she is very accomodating with fans at conventions and suchlike, which is always nice to know.
Mind you, I doubt anyone would NOT be pleasant to her, in case they put themselves at risk of one of her legendary kicks.
Cynthia, I salute you. Cheers for the years of beating up the bad guys in the name of keeping geeks like me entertained.
A 'suggested viewing' list of Cynthia Rothrock movies:
CHINA O'BRIEN 2
RAGE AND HONOR
RAGE AND HONOR 2
HONOR AND GLORY
SWORN TO JUSTICE