Undefeatable (1993) Review by RevTerry

I won't say I have never enjoyed a good day-long marathon of Jean-Claude Van Damme films from time to time or that I'm not a fan of some the essentials when it comes to Schwarzenegger or Stallone. That early 90s era of action trash-filled TNT marathons and gave us a ton of great shit from a wide range of budgets. That certainly includes the people that make up some of the “ensemble" super duper Expendables type, old man team-ups of late. Among a few more random issues, I have one huge gripe with the nostalgic ass-kicking all-star type flicks: Where the fuck is Cynthia Rothrock? As far as my childhood was concerned she ranked up there with the big ones. If you went back in time and asked little-ass RevTerry, he would be sure that she could have, after an epic battle and plenty of one-liners, kicked the shit out of all three of the aforementioned action stars along with the pony-tailed one I didn't mention (on purpose. He is a conversation for another day). She would certainly rock their old asses now. Even at the age of 60, she looks like the ageless Terminator compared to the overpaid melting man brigade. One of my favorite Rothrock final fight scenes recently (I don't know how recent, time means nothing to me) went viral on YouTube for its silly dialog and even cornier manly shirt ripping. While it's definitely got a few giggles out of me (and it is a Godfrey Ho film) I really don't think that's the only recognition a classic like Undefeatable (1993) deserves.
The film introduces us to Kristi (Rothrock), who when not serving tables at a diner or laying down positive vibes to her sibling, makes money on the side in illegal street fights. She attends these events, which take place in generic alleyways and parking garages, accompanied by her posse of supportive, middle-aged, Asian men. You know they are all in one gang because they all wear leather biker jackets as opposed to the other ridiculous outfits that the opposing gangs sport. She uses the extra ass-kicking dough to pay her kid sister's way through college with dreams of attending herself in the future and becoming a doctor. Because the fights are always getting busted by the fuzz she gets acquainted with an Officer DiMarco (John Miller) who develops feelings for her, most likely because of all the ass-kicking she’s out there doing. Unfortunately, another fighter (Don Niam), involved in something called death fights and with serious mommy issues, loses his shit when his wife leaves (after an awkward elevator music rape scene). This causes the angry, pale Mario Lopez knock-off,“Stingray” to begin cruising the town, killing women who remind him of his scorn wife/mom and removing their eyes. Kristi’s poor sister fits the bill and when she turns up dead, Kristie has no choice but to take up arms against the mulleted Stingray. Officer DiMarco can't really get with it because he's a cop and kind of a bitch. He warns her not to go, swoons a little, sternly warns again, helps some, removes his shirt for some reason and helps some more. Of course, mostly Rothrock runs around foot-fucking a few people's day up and there is a lot of eyeball damage. Oh yea and everyone gets to go to college (really). Except for Stingray. Fuck you Stingray.
The picture was directed by (infamous) Godfrey Ho , using one of his 40-something pseudonyms. Depending on who you are that bit of knowledge may give you certain “expectations” about the film, although I can testify that it is one of his more polished efforts. For those who don't know the name, he has given us such classics as Robo Vampire (1988), Ninja Terminator (1985) and the smoldering ball of confusion Thunder Ninja Kids: The Hunt for the Devil Boxer (1991) as well as 140+ other titles mostly involving the word “ninja”. He has a reputation for unintentional laughs and “borrowed” elements. Although filmed in the United States, featuring English speaking actors, the movie was a Hong Kong production and was released for the overseas market re-cut as Bloody Mary Killer. The alternative version features a subplot involving Robin Shou, aka motherfucking Liu Kang.
Like the other greats in the bare-knuckle dance fighting corner of cinema, you don't really show up for Rothrock's performance range, though she has a certain positive charm in most of her characters to keep you more than happy when she is not kicking people in the face. Above all, it's her fucking fight scenes. Even with jarring, random cuts and just bad film editing her moves look raw and precise. Rothrock doesn't do much in the way of flash and even refrains from using an extreme example of her signature kick-dude-in-face-behind-me move (it's there just not as prominent) but as always brings her brand of wholesome mudhole stomping. It's hard to pinpoint the element that makes it special, nothing like the hyper movement in most of today's fight films. Somewhere between Sonny Chiba and Billie Jean King lives Rothrock’s majesty. 
My biggest beef with the film would be the overuse of the Officer Nick DiMarco character. While he would have been fine as backup or a supporting, maybe romantic, role, instead the writing team opts to shoehorn him into critical parts of the film to serve as a team-up of sorts. Not only does his help in the fight scenes seem unnecessary but he is often the one to push the scene into more silly areas when it's trying to be serious punch people time. 
Even with the goofy ass dialog the fights are all pretty solid and get better as they go. Camerawork and pacing are hands down Godfrey Ho's best work, in my opinion, and despite the fact that somehow he still at that point did not know how to film a fight, Rothrock makes up for it. His films are always entertaining but I get the feeling more work went into Undefeatable. Whether it was his own, I don't know. Little to no gore, save for the last fights, there might be nudity but it is covered by awkward elevator music and weird mom flashbacks so I didn't notice. In general the soundtrack is terrible but I couldn't pick out any stolen pieces so it could be worse(that doesn't mean they weren't there). All together as a film, Ho’s best in several regards, but a lot of that is the basic enough plot and the addition of Rothrock.
It's a good, silly 90s action flick and it can hold it's own against many that could hold that title.  Some of the dialogue is laughable (ok, all) but that was the standard for The Expendable crew’s films from that time as well and it hasn't improved much. For why Cynthia Rothrock’s legacy seems to be forgotten among the wave of cornball action nostalgia, the unfortunate reasons and their discussion could fill a college course. Not broke people college either-- like real expensive, fancy-ass college. And hopefully, it would be taught by someone other than a movie blogger who lists Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers as one of his favorite films.
1h 30min | 1993
 Director: Godfrey Ho (as Godfrey Hall)
Writers: Robert Vassar (screenplay), Steve Harper (screenplay), Tai Yim (story), Timothy Lee (script advisor)

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