Martial Law II: Undercover (1991)

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This action-packed sequel launched the film career of Canadian martial arts ace Jeff Wincott as he replaces Chad McQueen with the returning Cynthia Rothrock as his partner.

A year after partnering up, Sean Thompson and Billie Burke, the duo who were known as the Martial Law team, have split when Sean is promoted to detective and transferred to start a new martial arts program in the Northwest division. However, the two still have respect for each other and are willing to help each other when the time comes. When Lenny Borelli, a fellow police officer and Sean’s old friend, is killed at the hands of a group led by millionaire businessman Spencer Hamilton, Thompson and Burke decide to reunite and investigate.

Hamilton is using his philanthropy as a cover for running a nightclub that has entertainment in the forms of prostitution and illegal martial arts fights. To cover his crimes, Hamilton is paying off certain members of the police force. When Sean’s attempt to go undercover has been blown after a leak in the department, he convinces Billie to go undercover in his place while he continues the investigation. However, when all things are revealed, Billie and Sean must stop Hamilton but to do so, they must go through Hamilton’s legion of martial arts fighting bodyguards.

1990’s Martial Law was a pretty decent B-movie that featured Karate Kid’s Chad McQueen and the “Lady Dragon” herself, Cynthia Rothrock, as a pair of cops who take on the likes of David Carradine and Philip Tan. While Rothrock returns for this sequel as Billie Burke, McQueen is replaced by Canadian martial artist Jeff Wincott, who had just wrapped up his hit series Night Heat to lead his first full action film.

Wincott is excellent as Sean Thompson, with his opening scene going undercover as a hobo taking on a band of bikers with his martial arts skills. The taekwondo black belt is very quick with his hands and showcases some nice kicking skills as well. As for Rothrock, if you’ve seen her films, you know what she’s capable of and shows no signs of slowing down. Surprisingly, the chemistry between the two as both colleagues and best friends works well in the same vein Chad McQueen did with Rothrock in the previous film.

Paul Johansson brings some slickness to the role of Spencer Hamilton, the film’s central villain. While his character is introduced doing a staff spar, it is clear why he has martial artists as his bodyguards. He may be lacking in the fight department, but his bodyguards are truly standouts. While Sherrie Rose’s Bree is a nice little typecast from her damsel in distress bombshell type, some others have more excellent skills. Notably Evan Lurie’s main henchman Tanner and Jeff Pruitt’s unnamed henchman. Wincott and Rothrock also gets to go against the likes of James Lew and Leo Lee in the film among others and Pruitt gets the kudos for providing some blistering fight choreography that has that Hong Kong-inspired influence with its speed like fights.

Martial Law II: Undercover definitely delivers in the action department and while Cynthia Rothrock was practically a legend by this time, it is Jeff Wincott who would be launched as a top name in 1990s American martial arts action films.

WFG RATING: B+

Image Organization presents a Westwind production in association with M-L Partnership. Director: Kurt Anderson. Producer: Pierre David. Writers: Richard Brandes and Jiles Fitzgerald; story by Pierre David; based on characters created by Brandes. Cinematography: Peter Fernberger. Editing: Michael Thibault.

Cast: Jeff Wincott, Cynthia Rothrock, Paul Johansson, Evan Lurie, L. Charles Taylor, Sherrie Rose, Billy Drago, Sherrie Rose, Deborah Driggs, Conroy Gideon, Kimber Sissons, Leo Lee, James Lew, Max Thayer, Jeff Pruitt.

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