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Film Review: Undefeatable (1993)

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Kristi Jones (Cynthia Rothrock) avenges her sister’s death at the hands of a crazed martial arts rapist.


Now here we have a movie that brings me back. If you, like myself, were one of those kids in the late ‘80s and the ‘90s that stayed up late night on weekends or during the summer, you might recognize the name Cynthia Rothrock. She was a martial artist that caught the eye of some Hong Kong filmmakers in the ‘80s. They decided to have her star in a bunch of B action flicks. You would commonly find them playing on channels like HBO or Cinemax, and for the most part, they were usually entertaining if a bit corny. Of course, not all of her films were winners, so it’s with a certain amount of trepidation that I dove into 1994’s Undefeatable.

In Undefeatable, Cynthia Rothrock stars as Kristi, who runs with a gang and participates in underground street fights controlled by the mafia. Her younger sister is going to college, and Kristi’s using these fights as a way to foot the bill. She’s constantly pestered by Detective Nick DiMarco, who thinks she should be doing more with her life than just beating up people for money. Kristi normally ignores him for the annoyance he is.

Meanwhile, there’s a guy known as Stingray who’s descended into madness. He lost his job and started to fight in illegal deathmatches for money using a particularly brutal martial art. This hasn’t helped his mental stability much, and he’s become an abusive raping brute as a result. You know how else you know this guy’s the bad guy? His mullet. Never trust a dude with one that isn’t played by Mel Gibson. Anyways, his wife takes the advice of her psychiatrist and leaves him, which causes Stingray to go further insane. He then starts kidnapping and murdering women that just remotely reminds him of his wife. When Kristi’s sister ends up being one of his victims, she starts working with Nick to try to stop the psychotic serial killer.

To be honest, the plot synopsis is actually more interesting than the story itself really is. Now, to be fair, a lot of these Hong Kong movies only have a plot to give some explanation to why a bunch of people are kicking the crap out of each other, so a well thought out story with decent character development is not going to be found here. However, it does what it’s supposed to do: establish the heroes and villain while also establishing why the heroes have to beat the bejeebers out of him. At least it does give us reasons to like the protagonists and care about their fate, so that’s better than a whole lot of other films I’ve had to review. (The bars been set pretty low for me at this point).

Now, this may not be much of the shock, but the acting gets pretty bad here. The main villain’s mannerisms are so exaggerated that they end up being inadvertently funny. The majority of the cast seemed to have gone to a similar school for overacting, but never reach the absurd heights Stingray does. John Miller as the heroic Nick is too bland to really make much of an impact. Cynthia Rothrock was never going to be considered a great actress, but she’s still decent enough to hold her own. She easily gives the best performance in Undefeatable.

The real meat and potatoes of this movie is, of course, the fight scenes. If these weren’t any good, then this movie would have been a complete loss. Luckily, the fight scenes were pretty great here. They were well-choreographed displays of physical prowess that were never failed to entertain. While they may not raise the bar, the fights still have a fair amount of “wow” factor. Rothrock, in particular, is a pure joy to watch as she gracefully pounds her opponents into submission. This movie not only makes another great showcase for her talents, but it also is a reminder of what a shame it was that Hollywood never tried to make Rothrock a star. She would have been a great addition to the action scene. At least filmmakers in Hong Kong recognized what she brought to the table and made sure to let us see how awesome she could be.

Undefeatable is a ridiculous movie with a thin story, clunky dialogue, and some spotty acting. Don’t let that fool you though, this movie rocks. Some of the over the top aspects makes the film unintentionally funny, which also makes adds to the fun. However, this movie is saved by the action and stunt work. The fight scenes kick all kinds of ass, making the overall film an exciting affair to sit through. If you want to have some low budget action-packed fun, give Undefeatable a go. You won’t be disappointed.

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