Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Sworn to Justice



SWORN TO JUSTICE (1996)

Directed by: Paul Maslak
Screenplay by: Robert Easter
Starring: Cynthia Rothrock, Kurt McKinney and Kenn Scott

Cynthia Rothrock plays Janna, a top class psychologist who is also very adept at martial arts (well she’d have to be, seeing as this is a Cynthia Rothrock movie). Returning home one night to find her sister and nephew slain in a burglary, Janna is confronted by the robbers. Engaging them in a short, brutal fight she flees, banging her head during her escape. Upon recovery, Janna finds she has developed psychic powers (like you would) and sets about catching the killers and ridding the streets of violence.



So far, Sworn to Justice sounds like your regular martial arts revenge flick starring high-kicking babe, Cynthia Rothrock. If that were the case, then Sworn to Justice would have been a fairly entertaining action flick. Instead, the filmmakers have jumbled the whole thing with too many plot threads, characters and ideas. Janna’s psychic ability (a novel, if silly, idea) is picked up and then dropped almost as quickly. Never really developed, it serves only for her to figure out the most obvious of clues. Then there’s Janna’s budding romance with Nick (McKinney). About as convincing as your typical soap opera, complete with jealous love rival, it is all very tedious. One presumes this was an attempt to show the softer, sexier side of Rothrock. There are also too many bad guys introduced, including Kenn Scott’s mob boss, Eugene (!?); pointless cameos from Walter Keoing, Brad Dourif and Mako (playing the most unconvincing blind newspaper salesman ever); and a complete lack of narrative coherence.



It’s a fair attempt by the filmmakers to try something different with a well-worn story and they at least succeed in creating some well-shot and energetic fight scenes. Choreographed by Eric Lee (Final Impact) and Douglas Kung, the fights are punchy and inventive. The best is a scrap Rothrock has with three guys holding up a convenience store, while the worst is the sloppy duel between Scott and McKinney. There is also a great fight (albeit an extremely short one) between Rothrock and Scott, featuring sticks and nunchuks, which is frustratingly cut short by needless exposition. Just as things are getting good, another bad guy pops up to tell us why he is so bad.

Sworn to Justice is watchable, but is only really recommended for die-hard Rothrock fans (she gets her kit off) and Star Trek devotees wanting to see Chekov’s cameo (I’m afraid to say, and relieved, that he doesn’t get his kit off).

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