Before Jeff Wincott took over the franchise, Chad McQueen joined up with Cynthia Rothrock to use their skills against a crime syndicate for justice and revenge.
Sean Thompson is one of the top undercover cops for the L.A.P.D. Skilled with martial arts ability, he and his partner/girlfriend Billie Burke make up the elite “Martial Law” team. Taking on various crimes, they are two of the best. However, Sean finds himself in a dilemma when his younger brother Michael gets in constant trouble with the law. Things are about to from bad to worse.
Dalton Rhodes is a martial arts master who also is a ruthless arms smuggler, and he tests Michael to join his operation. Michael, who thanks to Sean, is able to prove himself but as time goes on, learns the deadly truth about Rhodes and his operation. When Michael attempts to tell Sean about what he’s discovered, Rhodes kills him using a special rare technique. Sean, embittered with avenging Michael, decides to go undercover and join Rhodes’ group and will need Billie to be backup in case his cover is blown.
Upon her return to the United States after her prolific career in Hong Kong, Cynthia Rothrock began to make her mark in Hollywood indie action with the China O’Brien films. Rothrock had a knack for playing martial arts fighting cops and this is one of her best roles, even if she plays second fiddle to Chad McQueen. The Karate Kid alum, known for playing Cobra Kai member Dutch, takes the lead as undercover cop Sean, who seeks to avenge his brother Michael, played by Andy McCutcheon, after he falls in with the bad guys.
The late David Carradine plays the central villain in Dalton Rhodes, an arms smuggler who is also a top-notch martial artist who uses a palm strike to the heart to kill his adversaries. His cohort, Wu Han, is played by stuntman Philip Tan. He gets in on some of the action, especially against Rothrock. V.C. Dupree, who played boxer Julian in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, gets to showcase his skills again here in a few brief fight scenes as Faster, one of Rhodes’ henchmen.
The fight scenes are quite nicely done. McQueen and Rothrock get to strut their stuff as do Carradine and Tan. Rothrock gets to even engage in some brief fights against kickboxing legend Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and Jeff Pruitt as two of Rhodes’ henchmen. Pruitt would eventually take over the franchise as fight choreographer and supporting actor in Martial Law II: Undercover and Mission of Justice.
Martial Law is an underrated martial arts action film that has some pretty good fight scenes and a revenge-driven story. Chad McQueen and Cynthia Rothrock are in top form and David Carradine and Philip Tan are worthy opponents.
WFG RATING: B+
Image Organization presents a Westwind Production. Director: S.C. Cohen. Producer: Kurt Anderson. Writer: Richard Brandes. Cinematography: John Huneck. Editing: Michael Thibault.
Cast: Chad McQueen, Cynthia Rothrock, David Carradine, Andy McCutcheon, Philip Tan, Tony Longo, V.C. Dupree, John Fujioka, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Jeff Pruitt, Craig Ng.