Video Vortex: Cynthia Rothrock Is The ANGEL OF FURY

An ode to the one-woman devastation squad that is Cynthia Rothrock.

The world could use seven-hundred more Cynthia Rothrocks. Since that’s not possible, it’s our duty to canonize everything about the one that we do have.

Cynthia Rothrock is the planet’s foremost one-woman devastation squad. She has starred in over fifty movies. Rothrock is a five-time undefeated World Karate Champion in the category of Forms And Weapons. Before a women’s division existed, she competed against men and took first place thirty-two times in her first thirty-eight tournaments. In 1986, Rothrock tore a ligament in her knee during the filming of Yes, Madam. But her quadriceps and hamstrings were so impossibly tough that her kneecap was held in place without ligament until filming was completed. Basically, Cynthia Rothrock is so powerful that you could remove one of her knees and nothing would happen. It takes me eleven minutes to run one mile. That’s the current national average for someone who is over the age of sixty. I’m not that old.

The point is that there are regular humans, and then there is Cynthia Rothrock. Her skills, work ethic and resilience exist outside of the concepts of gender and mortality. When you’re the best at what you do, comparisons are pointless. Rothrock’s immense filmography has been criminally overlooked for decades. The time for her universal conquest is now. And the unhinged Indonesian battle-epic known as Angel of Fury is the best place to start.

Bolt is a ‘roid-raged terrorist who “strikes like lightning” when stealing computers. If Bolt looks familiar, that’s because he’s played by Peter O’Brian aka the Indonesian Rambo aka Rambu, the hero of The Intruder and The Stabilizer, two movies that redefine what it means to be alive. But Bolt is no hero. Bolt is a man who will threaten the murder of a child to get what he wants. And what he wants is computers.

Yes, that’s correct. The villain in this movie is not a sex-offender or a killer of kittens — he’s a computer smuggler.

Cynthia Rothrock has been hired to deliver a top-secret computer. The first time we see her, a goon grabs her ass and says, “Hey, sweetcakes!” Rothrock responds by crushing his penis with her elbow, as it should be. A full-scale riot ensues. Someone gets shot in the face. Rothrock uses a wall to leverage a roundhouse kick. It’s revealed that the attack was orchestrated by Bolt, who wants the computer that Rothrock is transporting in a silver suitcase. But lookout! There are three silver suitcases and only one contains the computer that Bolt wants! From there, Angel of Fury snowballs into rampaging power-bomb of mall massacres, motorcycle assaults, unlikely romances and Cynthia Rothrock obliterating everyone who gets in her way. This includes a Mr. T clone who looks less like Mr. T and more like a tan Don Knotts with a sad mohawk.

None of this explains the scene of Bolt nude arm-wrestling with another man in a shower. But it does clue us in as to why Angel of Fury is so fantastic.

Seeing Cynthia Rothrock pummel Peter O’Brian with swift backhands is the equivalent of watching Shemp Howard challenge the Incredible Hulk to a head-butt competition. It’s two titans in a dream-come-true battle that you never imagined was possible until you see it. And even when you see it, you can’t believe it. A similar thing happened in The Killers Edge, which featured a climactic brawl between Wings Hauser and Robert Z’Dar. I mean, really -- Wings Vs. Z’dar!! If you gave me the option of watching that happen or eating my way through a swimming pool filled with chocolate-marshmallow ice cream, I’d refuse the spoon. But the horrific, inexcusable reality of The Killers Edge is that our heroes aren’t given enough to do during the big fight scene. Wings displays more fury while eating waffles earlier in the movie. Z’Dar doesn’t even use his machine gun. Angel of Fury does not have this problem.

This movie is 77 minutes of non-stop action. It’s not the kind of action that puts you to sleep, like what happens when you try to watch Force Four or Extreme Vengeance. Angel of Fury has the opposite effect, in that it makes you feel like you just ate four Mucinex DM pills and washed them down with a two-liter of Dr Pepper. There is no rest for your eyeballs while watching this movie. That’s not only due to the electric rivalry between Rothrock and O’Brian, but also because there are zero rules in Indonesian filmmaking. Fights break out at amusement parks and in a store that looks like Radio Shack (RIP). The voice dubbing is out of control. Bolt drives a motorcycle through a brick wall, then runs over a random guy. To top it all off, a small child is used as a human shield and shot in the back. Not since a Rolls-Royce rolled over a ten-year-old in Jess Franco’s Bloody Moon has violence in the movies felt so satisfying.

Cynthia Rothrock’s presence is enough to make any movie worth watching twice. But Angel of Fury is worth watching more than twelve times. We should expect nothing less from a movie that was written by Chris “Son Of Robert” Mitchum.

This was originally published in the September issue of Birth.Movies.Death. magazine. See Angel of Fury as part of the Video Vortex series at the Alamo Drafthouse this month