Tag Archives: Christopher Lambert

Our Lady of Lethal: An Interview with Cynthia Rothrock by Kent Hill

Cynthia Ann Christine Rothrock, is an American martial artist and actress who I first encountered in a little movie called Raging Thunder or No Retreat, No Surrender 2 (part of my beloved Seasonal Films Library). From there I followed her through the China O’Brian and Martial Law movies. It is fortuitous that she shares this triple martial arts action extravaganza with Don “The Dragon” Wilson; the pair having shared the screen in a number of Cynthia credits, including The Martial Arts Kid and its forthcoming sequel.

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Rothrock holds black belt rankings in seven styles of martial arts and was a high level competitor in martial arts before becoming an actress.

It was in her hometown in Northern California in 1983 where she was on the Ernie Reyes’ West Coast Martial Arts Demonstration Team. A Leading Asian Film production company, Golden Harvest, was searching, at this time, in Los Angeles for the next Bruce Lee. Rothrock’s forms and manoeuvres were observed at a demonstration by Golden Harvest and they signed a contract with Cynthia there and then. It was two years (1985) later that she made her first martial arts movie, Yes, Madam (or Police Assassins / In the Line of Duty Part 2) which also starred Michelle Yeoh. Proving to be a box office hit, Cynthia ended up staying in Hong Kong until 1988 doing seven films there.

Rothrock would go on to be one of a handful of western performers who achieved stardom in the Hong Kong film industry, before even achieving success in their own country. Producer Pierre David initiated Rothrock’s move to back to America, offering her a co-starring role with Chad McQueen in Martial Law, Rothrock’s first U.S. production. A ten year successful career in B-grade action movies would follow in movies such as: China O’Brien and China O’Brien 2, Guardian Angel, Honour & Glory, No Retreat, No Surrender 2 and Prince of the Sun amongst a roster of thirty films

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Rothrock appeared in the television film The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion. She was also the inspiration for the video game character Sonya Blade from the game Mortal Kombat, though was given neither credit nor compensation. After the film Sci-Fighter, she retired from acting to teach martial arts at her studio in California. She made her comeback in 2012 with a role in the family film Santa’s Summer House, and in 2014, she starred in the action movie Mercenaries, (the all-female Expendables) alongside Kristanna Loken, Brigitte Nielsen, Vivica A. Fox and Zoë Bell directed by Chris Olen Ray.

Like her contemporaries of the genre, Cynthia is still going strong, busy with slate of movies either in the works or beginning production. She is dynamic, fearsome and as I’m sure Cynthia will tell you herself . . . she isn’t too old to quit kicking ass yet.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7DTnJSX0WQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiE18U7to0M

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“I’m gonna do something far worse than kill you”: Remembering Ricochet with Russell Mulcahy by Kent Hill

Among the flurry of big action movies that graced our screens from the late 80’s and into the 90’s, it was easy to see how some lost their way to an audience. But thanks to video, these movies that did not enjoy a successful theatrical release were quickly rediscovered on VHS, and some might say because of it, they have endured long after they could have so easily vanished.

They say all a movie cheerfully needs is a man with a vision, and the talented former music video genius turned Hollywood go-to guy for stunning visuals and artful storytelling was looking for exactly that – another story to tell. Russell Mulcahy had made a name for himself long before he directed a little movie called Highlander, but he had just come off of an unpleasant experience directing that film’s sequel when the script for an action/thriller, Ricochet, came across his desk.

The film was being produced by the legendary, machine gun-mouthed Joel Silver and was fixed by the man, Steven E. de Souza, who would eventually pen Die Hard. It would be headlined by the talented John Lithgow and future Academy Award winner Denzel Washington.

Washington plays Nick Styles, a cop on the L.A.P.D. At a carnival, criminal Earl Talbot (Lithgow) takes a hostage after a botched drug deal. Styles and Blake confront each other, during which Blake is wounded by Styles and is  imprisoned. Seven years later, Blake escapes and begins to carry out his revenge against Styles, which centers predominantly around destroying his life and career.

It’s a fast-paced, fun ride as Lithgow turns Washington’s world upside down. It is also a film of excellent performances from the whole cast. Lithgow is such a delicious villain and the ever solid Washington exudes the charisma which would see his career skyrocket over the following years.

Russell’s direction, as ever, is stunning, fluid, and he captures action like few other directors. It was really cool to sit down and have a chat with him while taking a break from working on his new film here, in the great down under; and, I’m happy to report, like most of the cool filmmakers I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to, you always get more than you hoped for. Russell told me about an upcoming re-release of his debut feature Razorback and it’s hard not to touch on the subject of his cult classic Highlander. You’ve probably heard all the stories by now – but it is a far different experience when they are recalled for you by the man himself.

I really love Ricochet and I always enjoy talking to Russell, so this one was a real pleasure to bring to you. If you’ve not seen Ricochet then go to it, you won’t be disappointed. It is out there on DVD, but if you can, check out the Blu-Ray for the film in all its true visual splendor.

Mulcahy on Ricochet. Press Play…

Stuart Gordon’s Fortress


Stuart Gordon’s Fortress is one of the more overlooked dystopian sci-fi thrillers of the 90’s, and despite somewhat being a B-movie, it holds its own in pretty much every department. Quality story, terrific acting (even from the king of stilted delivery himself, Christopher Lambert) and a story with more depth than the poster or marketing might suggest. Lambert plays an unfortunate man on the run with his wife (Loryn Locklin) in an America of the future where having more than one child per mother is prohibited. They’re both nabbed trying to make a break for Mexico, locked away in a horrific prison called Fortress, a place where science has run amok and all kinds of neurological and biological experiments are performed on the inmates under the steely direction of evil Director Poe (Kurtwood Smith). Fortress is an unorthodox nightmare where basic rights are replaced by those of cattle or worse, and no one is safe from micro implants, mind alteration and all sorts of fun stuff. Lambert plans an elaborate escape with the help of various inmates including Vernon Wells, the late Tom Towles, Jeffrey Combs and Clifton Collins Jr., all putting in excellent and varied performances. The scene stealer is Kurtwood Smith though, who is usually cheeky, psychotic or sarcastic in his work. Taking on the type of role that typically goes to a Malcolm McDowell type guy, he tackles a character that is the farthest thing from sympathetic you could find and sort of turns that on its head, making him seem very much human in one galvanizing piece of acting work. You can label this type of thing second tier or low budget, write it off or not take it seriously, but the fact remains that many of these efforts are works of art in their own right, beautifully crafted adventure stories set in universes more vibrant and imaginative than our own, stories just to the left left of normal and full of schlock, machines, creature effects and smoke machines. Gordon is a master in this arena (remind me to tell you about Space Truckers one day), a creative force to rival Roger Corman and the like. Fortress is my personal favourite in his stable, and one shouldn’t underestimate its entertainment value and ability to hold up decades later. Oh and also, this suffers from an adorable condition I call Blade Runner Syndrome™, in which the far off year the film’s timeline exists in has been caught up to by our own trajectory, making the films future look like our past. This film’s specific year? 2017, as you’ll see in the poster above. That means that right now, Lambert and Smith are duking it out in that clandestine compound somewhere out there. Cool thought. 

-Nate Hill

The Man in the Director’s Chair: An Interview with Michael Schroeder by Kent Hill

It was owning a fast car that booked a young Michael Schroeder his first trip onto a film set. With Chief Dan George (The Outlaw Josey Wales) in the seat next to him, Michael was instructed to drive as fast as he could toward camera. He took this request literally.

While no one was injured, and though this early encounter did not go exactly according to plan, the crew assembled in cowboy hats and shorts seemed to be having a lot more fun than the group of aging lawyers with whom Schroeder had spent this previous evening. So he quit trying to be become a lawyer and ran of to join the movie business.

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He began his professional career as an assistant director working on such films as Revenge of the Ninja, Lambada, Highlander 2 and Guests of the Emperor. In 1988 he would take the director’s chair on Mortuary Academy. Fourteen features would follow, among them Dead On: Relentless 2, Angelina Jolie’s debut Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow, Cyborg 3 (apparently Schroeder’s most lamentable experience) and his career high and passion project, the wonderful Man in the Chair.

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He is a talented director who came to movies late – but he has since established himself as a consummate artiste of the motion picture. He was a font of great stories, optimism, on top of being an eloquent gentleman.

It is my privilege to present to you this interview.

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Michael Schroeder.

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B Movie Glory with Nate: Beowulf

  
There are three main films concerning the myth of Beowulf. The best, a wickedly good Robert Zemeckis motion capture version starring Ray Winstone, a lower budget one with Gerard Butler that hovers right around the average mark, and a third one starring Christopher ‘Highlander’ Lambert, and let me tell you this one defies any classification. It’s set in a time that seems like a blend between both past and future, a sword and sorcery realm that’s speckled with steam punk technology and very weird production design that looks post modern, yet not. Beowulf, played by the reliably daffy Lambert (an actor of little talent who has grown on me over the years by his craggy reserve alone), is a lone warrior with a bleach blond hair dye job and some neato gadgetry in his weapon arsenal. I know, it sounds like I’m making this up. Haven’t even gotten to the best part yet, which is the upbeat German techno score that ramps up the Euro feel of the whole thing to soaring heights of absurdity. Despite all that silliness, the film somehow works, and not just as a schlocky write off either. It’s resolve lies dutifully in the firmament of its creative aesthetic, and doesn’t skip a single odd duck of a beat the whole way. The monster Grendel which Beowulf must face off against resembles something of a cross between the Predator and Killer Croc, a scaly, spiky behemoth that rips through the little villages in the region like a tornado of teeth and claws. It’s mother is even weirder: appearing to men in the form of actress Layla Roberts, (who looks suspiciously like a porn star) before morphing into a massive elaborate demon thingy that looks like a final boss from Starfox. Lambert is joined in his fight by sexy warrior Kyra (Rhona Mitra), and led on by King Hrothgar (Oliver Cotton). It’s Beowulf like you’ve never seen before, a Krull esque, beyond the Stars sci-fi rendition that you’ll either be in tune with or won’t, either love, hate or just be super confused by. It’s bonkers, and I love it. 

B Movie Glory with Nate: Blood Shot

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Folks, this is one for the books. Ever wish there was a film made about a badass, gun slinging vampire who is secretly contracted by the President of the United States  (Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert) to carry out dangerous missions and thwart evil Islamic terrorists? Well your very specific and demented wish just came true. Imagine for a moment that John Carpenter, Joe Dante and Michael Bay got hammered one night and wrote the most ridiculous script for a horror action comedy this century has seen. The resulting treatise would be Blood Shot, an absolute hoot of a flick that combines elements that wouldn’t be caught dead (or undead) together in any other setting but that of the gloriously unrestricted world of the B movie. The President uses a craggy operative named Sam (ever brilliant Lance Henriksen) to brief the Vampire in question (Michael Bailey Smith) on his missions. He is to hunt down violent Islamic rebels, led by a dude called Bob. Bob is Arabic. Bob is played by Brad Dourif, who is white as a sheet, but here shows up caked in brown makeup and hollering away in the most idiotic accent I’ve ever heard. His casting alone is just hysterical, and should drive the social activists up the wall screaming, while the rest of us howl in with laughter. His character is called Bob because of everyone’s inability to pronounce his real arabic name which is a mile long and completely nonsensical. His crew are terrorists straight from a Mel Brooks film, complete with a midget amongst them. There’s also a lone hero cop (Brennan Eliott channels the hotshot, reckless law enforcers of 80’s movies) hunting both the terrorists and the Vampire, getting in everyone’s way and capping anything that moves. The fact that Highlander plays the President in a film about a Vampire who hunts down terrorists named Bob should be more than enough for any self respecting film fan to drop whatever they’re doing and go bask in this baby’s glow. Despite being a direct to video flick, it contains not a trace of the trademark ineptitude and shoddiness that you’re always likely to find when exploring the genre. Campiness and lunacy, oh yes. But never mediocrity or laziness. But that’s what your friendly neighborhood Nate is here for, to wade through the unwatchable sludge and mine out the priceless gems for you all to see. This one’s funny, imaginitive, off the wall and a pint of B positive fun.