China O’Brien II (1989)

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Martial arts-fighting sheriff China O’Brien returns with an all-new adventure that like its predecessor, boasts some pretty good action sequences.

Two years has passed since China O’Brien took over as sheriff of her hometown and has wiped up the corruption that had plagued the town. Because of her efforts and the efforts of her deputies Matt and Dakota, the town has one of the lowest crime rates in the area. However, that is about to change when one of the most wanted men in the country has escaped and sets foot in town.

C.Z. Baskin, a notorious drug dealer, has escaped a few years after a former cohort of his, Frank Atkins, had ratted him out and took along the money from the last deal. Put into the witness protection program, Frank lives in the same town China is sheriff of. When Baskin learns of Frank’s location, he intends not to kill Frank but to retrieve his money. Once again, China and her team are put into action as Frank’s wife is a friend of China’s and Frank’s daughter Jill has a relationship with Dakota. Soon, Baskin decides the only way to bait Frank is to take over the town and start a war, one that could have potentially lethal results.

Once again, the sheriff is back and she’s not letting anything destroy her town. Shot back-to-back with the original film, Cynthia Rothrock once again shines as the film not only showcases her martial arts talents, but gives her a chance to stretch some acting muscle, especially when she comes to terms with understand that is transpiring in her town. Once again, she is joined by Richard Norton, who plays her trusted friend and deputy Matt with Keith Cooke as the now more open Dakota, who has come to terms with the events with the first film and is more of a heroic guy rather than the mysterious guy of the original film.

One can tell the film was shot back-to-back with the original as there is some re-hashed footage used as well as many supporting actors from the original returning in new roles in this installment. Notably, Frank Magner played a lumber man in the original film who had hatred for the corruption. Here, he moves up the rank in the pivotal role of Frank, who is connected to our lead villain and must do what it takes to protect his family, whether China approves the methods or not. Some whom have played thugs in the original film, well, still play thugs more or less in the film.

Once again, Nijel choreographed the film’s action sequences. Perhaps due to a lack of any real martial arts fighters in the original film (with the exception of Toshihiro Obata, who returns in this installment sporting clawed gloves), the film’s fight scenes here bring more exciting martial arts fight scenes. However, one scene stands out and it involves a kidnapped Dakota forced to fight with his hands tied behind his back against Baskin’s henchman Kurt. Keith Cooke is an amazing kicker and shows that in this scene, a year before Donnie Yen pulled off a similar move against Michael Woods in Tiger Cage II. Look out for martial artists Chris Casamassa (Scorpion in the original Mortal Kombat movie), Peter Malota (the Spanish fighter in Jean-Claude Van Damme’s The Quest), and the founder of Tae-Bo himself, Billy Blanks in fighting roles in the film.

China O’Brien II is pretty good for a back-to-back sequel. The triple threat of Rothrock, Norton, and Cooke continue to shine and add to the mix some pretty decent opponents in the climactic war zone in the finale.

WFG RATING: B

A Golden Harvest Production. Director: Robert Clouse. Producers: Fred Weintraub and Sandra Weintraub. Writers: Robert Clouse, Craig Clyde, and James Hennessy; story by Sandra Weintraub. Cinematography: Kent L. Wakeford. Editing: Mark Harrah

Cast: Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Keith Cooke, Frank Magner, Harlow Marks, Tiffany Soter, Tricia Quai, Don Re Sampson, Gary A. Rogers, Douglas Caputo, Billy Blanks, Cindy Clark,
Michael Anthony, Toshihiro Obata, Peter Malota, Chris Casamassa

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