Cynthia Rothrock stars as Kristi Jones, leader of the street fighting gang The Red Dragons, who teams up with Detective Nick DiMarco (John Miller) to catch the serial killer Stingray (Don Niam) who murdered her sister (Sunny David). Like so many Cynthia Rothrock movies Undefeatable (1993) is a tonal mess punctuated by bad, yet wholly sincere, performances and awesome fight scenes. But since Undefeatable is a film by the infamous Godfrey Ho, it is even more messy and schizoid in its pacing than most Rothrock adventures.
Godfrey Ho made a career out of shooting one movie then cutting two or three films from a combination of original and found footage. Ho has been described as Hong Kong cinema’s “King of the B’s” for his sleaze ball, low budget genre pictures. Ho is to martial arts movies what Andy Sidaris is to skin-flicks here in the states. The famous final battle scene between the good guys and Stingray in Undefeatable is exactly the kind of over the top insanity Ho is known for. Undefeatable even exists in an alternate edit titled Bloody Mary Killer that condenses all of the most insane moments of Undefeatable into one violent burst of nutty B-Movie glory.
Aside from the niche pleasures of fetishized violence, the primary charm of Undefeatable lies in how wholesome the heroes are. Rothrock’s gang of street fighters never curse and, by the end of the film, happily enroll in college. There’s something of an after-school special in the way the good guys behave. For a film about a homicidal maniac with a psycho-sexual “mommy” fixation and a woman out for revenge, Undefeatable is surprisingly tame in every aspect except its violence. Even then the violence is executed with an air of camp and such low budget effects that it feels more like pageantry.
Undefeatable, or any of the Cynthia Rothrock films of the nineties for that matter, are films based entirely on the belief that as soon as the viewer pops the cassette into the VCR all disbelief is immediately suspended. There’s a kind of faith that is unique to straight-to-video movies of this period that has no equivalent today. In exchange for spectacles of violence, nudity, sex, and martial arts the viewer must invest in a world of poor performances, cheesy dialogue, and cheap production designs. It’s a relationship between image and spectator that nurtures a kind of intimacy between the cinematographic product and the consumer that has made these movies so popular even today.