With eight films under her belt--uh, under her five black belts--martial arts queen Cynthia Rothrock is something of a movie queen overseas, especially in Hong Kong, where she's known by the name of Law Fu Lock.
With U.S. moviegoers, it's another matter. "Unless they read martial arts magazines, or go to little movie houses in Chinatown, they probably don't know who I am," admitted Rothrock, who's hoping the just-out "No Retreat, No Surrender II" will help to change that.
From Shapiro-Glickenhaus Ent., it's her first American movie. Filmed in Thailand, it finds her cast as a helicopter pilot/Thai boxer/teacher who joins a rescue mission through the Thai jungles.
"I've got two major fight scenes," said Rothrock, who prefers to square off against men. "When I fight women, I have to go pretty easy. So it doesn't look as powerful--and as realistic." (In Hong Kong movies, the action's usually played for real !)
Only 5-foot-3, 105 pounds, Rothrock's been practicing the martial arts for 17 years. She's gotten numerous awards. Among them, a No. 1 ranking for her use of weapons (which can include swords, sticks, spears and nunchaku)--for which she competed against men.
Little wonder that Hong Kong film makers came calling in 1985. Or that Rothrock almost always does her own stunts--"unless they're really too super-dangerous, like having me being wired to a 100-foot building and having to jump off," explained Rothrock. (For "No Retreat," "They sent the stuntwoman back home, because I could do the stunts better than she could.")
Now based in the United States, Rothrock's already filmed her second American film--"China O'Brien," due later this year from Golden Harvest. Robert Clouse ("Enter the Dragon") directs.
And she's also under option for a possible teaming with another action star: Sly Stallone!
As Rothrock recalled, she was in Utah filming "China O'Brien" when she got a call asking her to fly in for a meeting with Sly. The idea, at the time, was for them to be partnered ("I'd be the one who does martial arts") in "The Executioner." As it turned out, that film was scotched. "But I'm still under option--and hoping something's going to happen," said Rothrock. "I think we'd be a pretty tough team."