Submitted by Lili_Danube t3_127096d in movies

I don't buy into the excuse that she was a bad actress because the majority isn't good either. I mean, Jean Claude Van Damme was hardly good. And I don't think Jet Li was great either. But they are given credit for their fight scenes.

Cynthia Rothrock had some of the best fight choreography I've ever seen from a woman in the genre. Just watch her 80s Martial arts movies she made in Hong Kong. She was going toe to toe with Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung and slaying.

When she crossed over to America, it's when she did a lot of shitty movies like the China O'Brien movies. Clearly, dubbing helped her a lot in the 80s. But she was a formidable female fighter.

And she was the real deal since she started out as a fighter. Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi were dancers who crossed over into fight choreography.



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7loUge t1_jebw6dt wrote

She's also crowdfunding a new movie, if you want to support her.


MrSlops t1_jefhu64 wrote

I was onboard and thinking to fund it...but then I saw Kevin Sorbo.

That'll be a hard nope for me.


grumble11 t1_jecum83 wrote

She is an extraordinary martial artist and acrobat but you are making more than martial arts demonstrations - you are making a movie and her acting wasn’t great.


ignore_me_im_high t1_jedn35g wrote

Better than a lot of her male contemporaries. JCVD is terrible and so is Jet Li. Their acting only got better when they started doing movies that could afford/cared about doing more then one take of each scene..


PennStateInMD t1_jedy6ao wrote

Hmmm. It's hard to think of any actor that would not benefit from multiple takes.


ignore_me_im_high t1_jee04vg wrote

Right.... and if Cynthia Rothrock didn't get those extra takes and those other actors did, then it's easy to see why someone might think she wasn't as good at acting.

I mean, in their first English speaking roles neither Jet Li or JCVD could even speak English and were just doing lines phonetically. It was awful to say the least, and both those actors getting to be in bigger films had nothing to do with acting ability. Cynthia was easily on their level at the very least.


-SneakySnake- t1_jeen0fj wrote

'cause it's not just about acting, it's also who looks good on a poster. Cynthia Rothrock looks like Kitty from That '70s Show, not at all like an action star. Michelle Yeoh for example always looked convincingly tough. Same deal with say, Pam Grier if you wanna go back a little further.

You do know that there were other martial arts guys in the '80s and '90s that studios tried to get behind and they bombed for pretty much the same reasons, right? They mighta been great martial artists but they looked like someone's dorky dad.


ignore_me_im_high t1_jegec6b wrote

Chuck Norris did ok for himself and he's probably the most average looking person ever. His beard had always been a joke, he's essentially a woodshop teacher from the 70s.

Jackie Chan? Hasn't looked tough for a day in his life.... so I think you're "reasoning" leaves more than a little to be desired.


-SneakySnake- t1_jeghlz8 wrote

Chuck Norris wasn't that big a deal, man. His biggest releases were all with Cannon. If you know what Cannon was, you'd know why that's not great.

As for Jackie Chan, he didn't really play "tough" parts, he was generally a goof who got into trouble. Tough wasn't his persona. He was like the Tom Hanks of martial arts movies. Or Buster Keaton more accurately.

If you think being marketable isn't an important part of being a movie star... I really don't think you know jack-shit about the subject there. Sorry to say.


Nastee_Ninja t1_jec0kif wrote

Yeah she is super slept on. The movie Yes, Madam is fire.


NairForceOne t1_jefavbl wrote

I saw her and Michelle Yeoh's fight scene from Yes, Madam a couple of months ago and I was ENRAGED that I'd never heard of that movie before.

That was some of the best damn fight choreography I've EVER seen.

...and I still haven't found the time to watch the movie. I have no one to blame but myself.


zeiandren t1_jebxkqi wrote

She’s pretty much the only female martial arts star from that era that I can even name. She became pretty much infinitely more well known than anyone else from the time.


DanGrima92 t1_jec7fvs wrote

Shes excellent, don't get me wrong but this comment is very much forgetting Michelle Yeoh


StreetMysticCosmic t1_jec8922 wrote

Yeoh is the true GOAT but Rothrock deserved to have a career that was equally illustrious.


DarkShades t1_jedhk55 wrote

Michelle Yeoh isn't a martial artist, she is dancer who took choreography very well.


CogitatorX t1_jedffze wrote

Michelle Yeoh isn’t a martial artist. She’s a dancer who was decent at martial arts choreography. Absolutely not in the same league as Cynthia. And as far as dancers who learned martial arts choreography Cheng Pei-pei was miles above Yeoh.


w00master t1_jeeq2f8 wrote

While true, being a dancer doesn’t prevent you from stunt and martial art work.

She’s the GOAT.


CogitatorX t1_jefk4wv wrote

Only people who have never watched Hong Kong cinema think Yeoh is the GOAT and I say this as a fan of Yeoh since Supercop. There are far superior female martial arts actors and I’d bet if you asked Yeoh herself she’d tell you it was Cheng Pei-pei.


w00master t1_jefkc2c wrote

Nobody outside of Hong Kong / China really knows Cheng. Also, you’re completely ignoring Yeoh’s impact on world cinema.

So yes. Yeoh is the GOAT.


CogitatorX t1_jefkvdp wrote

We’re not talking about “world cinema” we’re talking about female martial arts stars. Most people in the west only know Yeoh from this last movie and Crouching Tiger and I’d wager most younger people have no idea she got her start in Hong Kong action theater.


w00master t1_jefky90 wrote

I’d say it absolutely deals with world cinema. Have a nice day.


CogitatorX t1_jeflv7k wrote

Except we were literally discussing who was the best female martial artist actor when someone stated Yeoh is not a martial artist but a dancer who performed martial arts choreography. To which I stated the undeniable fact that Cheng Pei-pei was also a dancer who performed martial arts choreography and was better at it than Yeoh. You then started going on about “world cinema”.


w00master t1_jefm1ho wrote

Right. And i am saying that her role world cinema was influenced by much of her martial arts and stunt work.

Again. She’s the goat.

Have a nice day.


cthd33 t1_jec1hcm wrote

Yes, she and Michelle Yeoh's career where both launched together with Yes, Madam. I think she went on to making even more movies than Michelle (but not as high profile movies). I have a feeling that they might not have gotten along since they have never made a movie together again. Also I don't think I have ever heard Michelle even talk about Cynthia when she talk about her beginnings.


system37 t1_jeceea3 wrote

I agree; she’s really great, but I think part of the problem was that she was also in some exceptionally bad movies. Truthfully, I only became aware of her by watching many of those crappy movies from Rifftrax.


Step-Father_of_Lies t1_jeeif66 wrote

Yeah I'm sorry but I get really annoyed when people talk about Cynthia Rothrock as some kind of big action star in any way. If you want to talk about how good she is at fight scenes, sure, I'll entertain that argument. But the bottom line is she didn't even have a small role in a single big picture at any point in her career so I kinda have to laugh when people bring her up as one of the early female action stars.


WaterlooMall t1_jeenr8i wrote

I think the closest thing to a big picture she was in was SHANGHAI EXPRESS (also called MILLIONAIRE'S EXPRESS) with Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, but she was a basically an extra in it.

The problem is she isn't a good actress at all, she's just a really good martial artist.


menwithrobots t1_ject9b7 wrote

Redlettermedia featured Undefeatable in an episode of Best of the Worst and remarked the same thing!


mongotongo t1_jed03rh wrote

Thanks for this comment. I was wondering to myself if she was the same one that they mentioned. You saved me from having to look it up.


CZJayG t1_jectka2 wrote

I had a few posters of her on my wall as a teen. She was a hot ass kicker who did deserve more success. Sadly she didn't have much acting talent.


Gayfetus t1_jedwats wrote

Yay, another Cynthia Rothrock fan!

She mastered a vast variety of martial arts with impeccable form (won tons of medals for it, too). And form, after all, is what counts on screen.

Why isn't she better remembered? Hollywood just didn't give her the same opportunities that Hong Kong cinema did. Hong Kong cinema saw her as a star from the start. They built movies around her, and put her in major roles.

Her acting was certainly good enough to carry those movies and make them hits in the territory. She had perfectly adequate range for what's required of an action star. And she certainly had charisma and could spark chemistry with any of her costars.

But that was Hong Kong. In the US, all she got were a string of direct-to-video films that just weren't any good.

She never got a big break in Hollywood. She never got cast in any action tentpoles. I think if a major production had given her a chance, she'd been a breakout star.

Well, why didn't they? If you look at some of the women that did get cast in action roles in big budget films in the 90s, you get Sigourney Weaver, Famke Janssen, Milla Jovovich, Carrie Ann Moss, Grace Jones... Half of that list are people who started out as models. And they're all certainly extremely glamorous women.

While Cynthia is certainly very pretty, she's not quite model pretty and glamorous. I think Hollywood execs just wrote her off because they didn't think she was hot enough. Her martial arts prowess meant nothing to them, whereas I think HK cinema studio execs had much more respect for her skills.

So ultimately, a very tiny group of gatekeepers kept her from reaching her full potential as a star, likely because of her looks. It sucks. But well, her glorious stint in HK cinema will always be there, and that content is only more accessible to people around the world than ever.


AnyNamesLeftAnymore t1_jecbim2 wrote

She was a Cinemax queen back in the day. Lady Dragon, Sworn to Justice. It's all low budget direct to cable stuff but back in the early 90s that wasn't so bad. Like back when Full Moon Pictures still made decent creature features.


Mudders_Milk_Man t1_jecjc34 wrote

The best? No. Michelle Yeoh far better.

That said, Cynthia Rothrock is up there, and deserves far more recognition.


1daytogether t1_jedxln9 wrote

Depends on how you look at it. Michelle Yeoh is subjectively prettier, more charming, and a better overall actor... but objectively, when it comes to actual martial arts, Cynthia Rothrock is second to none, she was bona fide champ in multiple disciplines from a young age. And I think watching her fights during her peak, she was better at it than nearly all the Chinese action actresses (most had dance backgrounds) in the same category as her.


Boney__Danza t1_jecu5a7 wrote

Jean-Claude Van Damme is a great actor. He's way less ridiculous than any of the other action stars from that era and is also pretty funny.


1daytogether t1_jedybe4 wrote

It's because she started out in a niche industry that was relatively unknown to western audiences, and when she did crossover to the west finally, she didn't make good career choices/ wasn't offered good opportunities to show off what she was capable of.

You also have to understand her skills were a perfect match for the way of filmmaking in HK at that time, and the way they worked with her and shot/edit her fights were not solely her achievement but the genius choreographers and stunt coordinators in that industry. Just look at her abysmal American output after that. It was just the stars aligning at the right time.

Rothrock was talented but there were also other talented actress/screen fighters from Hong Kong who were her peers but they get even less credit than her. Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, etc are better female action stars than any Hollywood actress who ever lived. Let's be real here, the world just isn't fair.

And that stealth diss of Jet Li, smh, please tell me you've seen more than his American trash. Go watch Fist of Legend and his Once Upon a Time in China movies, and show me someone who did it better.


lucia-pacciola t1_jef96nb wrote

> I don't buy into the excuse that she was a bad actress because the majority isn't good either. I mean, Jean Claude Van Damme was hardly good. And I don't think Jet Li was great either. But they are given credit for their fight scenes.

For me, it was never about the acting with these types. It was about on-screen presence. Van Damme and Jet Li aren't such great actors, but they sell a larger than life image when they're on screen. I never really got that from Rothrock. She has the moves, but lacks the charisma.


SAlolzorz t1_jec7zoz wrote

One of the best, certainly. And should be more famous. I'm more of a Yukari Oshima fan, myself, but I have mad respect for Rothrock, too. She always brought it!


migs_003 t1_jeceis9 wrote

Didn't know who rothrock was by name but read a little from original post and thought to me self... is they talking about lady dragon? ...i Google the name and hot Damm it is lady dragon.

She was nice with it.


space2occupy t1_jecut2b wrote

Funny that you post this. I’m watching Yes, Madam! Right now.


Ok-Doubt7333 t1_jed1y61 wrote

Do other female martial arts movie stars get credit for anything?


DisasterPeace7 t1_jed8dzh wrote

I was a Cynthia rothrock fan, maybe I've missed the string of interviews or something that she's done but I think the reason she doesn't get more love is that she kind of just disappeared


Tazzy8jazzy t1_jedbk1k wrote

Yes! I watched all her movies when I was a kid! So underrated!


heatlesssun t1_jedcvaz wrote

A few of her movies are on RiffTrax and it makes them 100 times better honestly. Honor and Glory is horrible but the RiffTrax version is beyond hilarious.


Window_Watcher t1_jedqrtq wrote

Rothrock was a legend but she was a chick in a male dominated industry. To even say she was awesome would get my friends calling me gay. You're only supposed to like guys in spandex who can do the splits and rub vast amounts of oil on each other. That's fucking straight, guys.


Hxghbot t1_jedtgk0 wrote

Idk my dad and his mates were really into martial arts movies and they all rated her really highly, feels like she gets kudos among people who know the genre well


Pleasent_Pedant t1_jedvfyo wrote

So true I have been thinking about her a lot lately (not that way you filthy perverts) and wondering why she isn't more well known. Her films are pretty terrible, but for the time I cannot think of another American actress who was even comparable.


AnEmancipatedSpambot t1_jeedvqw wrote

I wish she wasnt forgotten.

Im a guy and she was a very important bit of representation for me. It was good for kid me to see that back then.


rockharddadbod t1_jeeivqq wrote

Pretty sure that’s a Flintstone’s character.


Pretend_Pension_8585 t1_jeesf91 wrote

JCVD was so good looking he could simply exist to be a movie star. If Hollywood can push jail Courtney or Sam Worthington just based on their looks they sure as hell would push jcvd


CogitatorX t1_jedf1j2 wrote

She was absolutely incredible. I was just showing someone some clips of her as well as some Sammo & Yuen Biao.


azducky t1_jedfv1o wrote

Totally agree!!


Yabanjin t1_jedm5ae wrote

Can't wait for "Yes, Madam" to get here...waited forever for a decent version, and now we are getting two versions to choose from! (three if you count the recent German one that came out)


dexterpool t1_jeesnly wrote

Yes we know. This comes up most weeks here.


TheSource2023 t1_jeeymkj wrote

While the acting in most of those movies from that era is subpar, its not always the actors fault. It's is the directors and producers as well. Rothrock though is a true badass though! I thoroughly enjoy watching a lot of those movies because lets be honest here, we don't watch martial arts movies for the acting, we watch them for the fight scenes


godlytoast3r t1_jefhar1 wrote

bro thanks for sharing this, just watched some clip from Yes, Madam and gahdamn its blowing my mind lol she is hotttttttttt