Honor and Glory (1992)

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“The Lady Dragon” Cynthia Rothrock gets some unexpected help in this action-packed thriller from Godfrey Ho, who makes his American film debut here.

After a stint in Hong Kong, FBI agent Tracey Pride is asked to return to Washington for a new mission. While Tracey will miss Hong Kong, she is more than excited to see her sister Joyce, who is a local news reporter who is investigating possible money laundering by notorious businessman Jason Slade. Slade, who is still covering his tracks, has hired new bodyguard Jake Armstrong to ensure the safety of his business. However, when Jason has plans involving the purchase of a nuclear warhead, Jake begins to question his moral standings.

Joyce, meanwhile, is conflicted with attempting a relationship with her father, who like Tracey works for the FBI. Joyce may have enough evidence to stop Jason, and on top of that Jake shows respect for Joyce and her attempts to stop him. Tracey gets a visit from an old friend from Hong Kong, Dragon Lee. When Jason’s attempt to get the warhead is stopped when the cache of money is stolen, he learns who is responsible and this will lead to Tracey, Joyce, Dragon, and Jake, who has now defected to join the good guys, to track down Jason and his goons in the ultimate showdown.

The first of two films shot on location in the Washington D.C. area and directed by Hong Kong director Godfrey Ho (who adapted the English moniker “Godfrey Hall”), this is a fun action film that makes good use of star Cynthia Rothrock as well as some of the local martial arts talent who make their debuts in the film. While there are three veteran martial arts action stars in Rothrock, American-born Hong Kong film star Robin Shou, and Chuck Jeffreys; local talents such as John Miller, Donna Jason, and Gerald Klein, all whom were students of Hung Fur Grandmaster Tai Yim, who makes an appearance as Joyce and Tracey’s sifu, who Joyce felt was more of a father figure.

What makes the film more interesting is that while we have the main plot of our two sisters and their attempts to stop the evil Jason Slade, there are two very good subplots involving conflict within. One of Joyce’s conflict with her FBI agent dad and how she felt he deserted her as a kid and even when her sifu tells her that it would be a good idea for the two to reconnect, she still has her reservations. This, along with her mission to stop Slade, results in her showcasing some good kung fu forms, which sadly as a flaw, doesn’t get to show much in her part when it comes to the climactic fight scene. If anything, they should have made Jason look better in this particular fight as even her opening fight scene, against a woman screaming at her and brandishing a knife, was better than her work in the finale.

The second subplot in a way, involves Chuck Jeffreys’ Jake Armstrong, a bodyguard for hire who soon finds his moral compass in jeopardy. The reason is because he soon learns that his new boss may not be as good as he thinks he is. He soon learns the truth, and this is after he shows a sense of respect to Joyce, who earlier in the film warns him about Jason, and decides he’s joining the good guys. This is apparent when Jake returns to his childhood gym and lets his anger out on a bag, which shows flashback of his final encounter with Jason before the finale. Now those who think Jeffreys may be the “Eddie Murphy of martial arts films”, it’s true but he’s clearly got the skills to back it up with his amazing wushu and kicking skills.

As for John Miller, he has the look that would make him play perhaps an evil version of Superman and yes, in certain scenes, he does tend to overact a bit. But, this is his first major role in a film and on top of that, he makes up for it in his martial arts skills. There is a great scene where Slade is practicing and it just shows how good he is in kung fu, using iron rings [bringing to mind Chiu Chi-Ling, the actor who played the tailor in Kung Fu Hustle] and an excellent form using the Kwan Dao. Miller, Rothrock, and Jason would reunite shortly after in Undefeatable, which is an internet meme these days for its climatic fight scene that pits Rothrock and Miller against Don Niam’s serial killer Stingray.

Honor and Glory has quite a pretty good story for a B-film with two subplots about conflicts within and some pretty good fight scenes for the most part. Only wished Donna Jason wasn’t wasted in the finale as she does have the skills. Otherwise, a pretty decent American debut for Godfrey Ho.

WFG RATING: B-

An Action Star Pictures and Filmswell International production. Director: Godfrey Ho. Producer: Vash Klein. Writer: Herb Borkland. Cinematography: Michael Law. Editing: Grand Yee.

Cast: Cynthia Rothrock, Donna Jason, John Miller, Chuck Jeffreys, Robin Shou, Richard Yuen, Hung Yip Yim, Tai Yim, Leo Rocca, Gerald Klein.

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