"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Guardian Angel

GUARDIAN ANGEL is a 1994 Cynthia Rothrock joint from PM Entertainment, directed by Richard W. Munchkin (RING OF FIRE) and written by Joe Hart (REPO JAKE, STEEL FRONTIER). It’s not one of the better crafted Rothrock pictures, but it’s a worthwhile grade of ridiculousness.

Rothrock stars as Christine McKay, who’s working as a cop when we first meet her. And she’s at a great place in her life. Staking out a public park undercover as “lady standing next to ice cream truck,” she shows off her engagement ring to her partner and confesses that she never thought she’d marry a cop. Then the shit goes down: two groups totaling around 25 people show up at the park to discuss a counterfeiting transaction.

McKay makes the very questionable choice to run by herself toward these gangs firing her gun in the air. The sound causes them to start fighting and shooting at each other. She personally beats the shit out of several of them before backup arrives.

She shoots a car, causing it to flip over, and yanks the driver out before it explodes. Not only is it an honorable life saving move, but she gets the name of the counterfeiter: Charles Batania (Aharon Ipale, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, AMERICAN NINJA 5, the Pharaoh in the THE MUMMY movies). Batania says he’s in the business of “this and that,” which seems to mean paying women to be play-things for rich dudes at his parties. McKay goes to one of the parties and almost gets assaulted by Mr. Batania before she tries to arrest him, at which point he runs through the party firing shots at her (one of many ways that he is just a terrible host in my opinion) and kills her partner.

See, a more polished movie would’ve figured out what this story was about, have the opening set it up and then get into it. But there’s another approach where you just have a bunch of stuff happen for a while, different people get shot, etc., hopefully it will fill some screen time for a while and eventually if you feel vibe going then you can stop doing that and start with what the movie is actually about. Or not.

In this one we have the case she’s on and we have her partner dying oh you know what how about this is also about her aforementioned fiancee Nick (Marshall Teague, ROAD HOUSE, SPECIAL FORCES) getting killed execution style by a hot counterfeiter named Nina (Lydie Denier, GRUNT! THE WRESTLING MOVIE, WILD ORCHID II) during a fight/attempted bust at some kind of Old West museum? So if her partner was the kind of person who would want her murder to be avenged I’m afraid that just got bumped off the priorities list. Sorry! At least your death was included in the movie for some reason.

She doesn’t have to search for Nick’s killer. She’s already been busted. When McKay confronts Nina in prison she psycho-analyzes her/provides her backstory to the audience and says something pretty fucked up. After accusing her of killing men because of her hatred for her abusive father, she says, “Your father beat you because you killed your mother.”

“It’s a lie and you know it,” Nina says. “She died giving birth to me. I didn’t kill my mother.”

“Well, your father seemed to think so.”

Okay Christine, I understand that this woman killed your fiancee, she does not deserve my sympathy, but is it necessary to take her father’s side about beating her? That was before she killed anybody, I’m guessing. Anyway, McKay attacks Nina at the courthouse, quits the force, and six months later is living in a messy trailer, operating as “McKay Security Services, failing to keep up with the dishes. She has a little dog named Flash who she criticizes as a stand-in for herself, complaining about him not cleaning the trailer and being a loser.

You see what I’m saying? Alot of stuff can happen in these movies. After all that the main story finally begins when McKay takes a job as bodyguard to “an entrepreneur, an investor and a connoisseur” (rich prick) named Lawton Hobbs (Daniel McVicar, NIGHT EYES THREE). He needs protection because his psycho ex-girlfriend just escaped from prison (hanging on a rope from a helicopter!) and he thinks McKay will be able to take the job more seriously than others because his psycho ex-girlfriend is Nina.

Like Michelangelo before him, Lawton is a party dude. He sometimes has pool parties with a bunch of bikini babes hanging around, and it’s pretty funny to see them freak out when McKay chases a guy and beats him up right there. But I don’t see why the poor maid has to get knocked into the pool in that scene.

Actually, come to think of it maybe I do. Lawton has an uptight butler named Clayton (John O’Leary, THE LAST STARFIGHTER), who does not like McKay. But then he figures out that the maid has poisoned her tea, and warns her as she’s about to drink it. Her plot exposed, the maid pulls a gun and McKay kicks her off the balcony to her death. So anyway assuming that was the same maid from before that must be why they figured she deserved to fall in the pool. Alternatively, maybe that earlier humiliation is what made her try to poison and then shoot McKay.

Lawton and McKay go somewhere else and when they come back to the mansion there are police there, because unfortunately Clayton has been killed. And you gotta figure some of those cops must’ve still been there dealing with the dead maid,right? Quite a day at stately Hobbs Manor.

This is one of those deals where it’s supposed to be cute that the man keeps making inappropriate comments to the woman. You’re happy that she keeps telling him where to stick it, and yet you’re also supposed to be happy when she eventually falls for him. To make him seem not as bad they have a cop (Ken McLeod, SHOWDOWN, VIRTUAL COMBAT) who’s more of a pig than him, always saying stuff like, “Let me get this straight. You want a woman protecting you?” and “Let me ask you something: why would a man want a woman for a bodyguard? I mean shit, boy, where’s your pride?”

Lawton correctly labels him a “sexist asshole,” but unfortunately throws in a “secretly attracted to men” dig. I know he’s assuming the guy must be homophobic and will be insulted by it – that could pass for progressive back then.

The cop in charge of the Nina case, Goddard (Anna Dalva) is also a woman who has to put up with one of her inferiors telling her he doesn’t want women “in the battlefield.” So there’s an attempt to reflect some of women’s struggles, I guess. I should also include the part where a dude tries to hire McKay Security Services but then realizes McKay is a lady. She gives him this look:

Interestingly, there’s even a part where the movie seems to want us to have sympathy for Nina. She’s alone at her place, wearing a silk bathrobe, shakily making tea and writhing in pain from a gunshot wound on her leg. It’s pretty out of the blue, though, because mostly she’s just mean. In one scene she pours a drink on a guy’s crotch and lights it on fire just to amuse herself. Later his friend (Art Camacho, director of POINT DOOM and HALF PAST DEAD 2) keeps making fun of him about it, saying “he can roast marshmallows on his crotch” and stuff like that.

The title turns out to have meaning (sort of) because Lawton has a ridiculously ugly big-boobed metal sculpture of the same name at his mansion. He says it was made by his brother (Robert Miano, uncredited mugger in DEATH WISH, Braga’s double in FAST & FURIOUS). Later McKay visits the brother in an asylum and it’s a white room and she’s wearing a white jacket and he sees her in soft focus and asks, “Are you an angel?”

Honestly the inexplicable and inept stuff is the main attraction of this type of movie, but it goes down better with a bunch of action, as there is here. The aforementioned Camacho and Rothrock’s frequent co-star Richard Norton provided the fight choreography. There’s plenty of car chasing, speed boat and helicopter vs. jet ski (the speed boat is named “Cigarette Lady”), and my favorite is the horse chase. Nina attacks Lawton at a polo track, so there’s a horse chase/shootout. There’s a great part for the McKay stunt double where she gets shot, the horse rears and drops her off, but she’s hooked on a rein and gets dragged along as the horse runs off.

Also McKay finds a matchbook on the ground as a clue during that scene. I love it. So many mysteries go unsolved these days because of vaping.

Rothrock gets to be the kind of wisecracking character men in action movies usually were back then. When some counterfeiter dudes steal a cop car she says over the radio, “Attention 2-Edward-Mary – that’s you two assholes up in front of us.”

Also she ends the movie about to get laid.

“So I guess I’m out a bodyguard,” Lawton says, now that everything has been wrapped up.

“I guess so.”

“What if I need protection?”

“Don’t you carry that in your wallet?”

“Ha. Yeah. For special occasions.”

“Oh.” She starts to walk up the stairs to the bedroom, turns around and smiles. “You wanna join me for a special occasion?”

And they run upstairs to bone. It doesn’t show it though ’cause they never made a part 2.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2021 at 10:21 am and is filed under Action, Martial Arts, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “Guardian Angel”

  1. >I know he’s assuming the guy must be homophobic and will be insulted by it – that could pass for progressive back then.

    It passes for progressive now. Remember all the “I bet Putin and Trump are GAY! For EACH OTHER! And they’re BOTH MEN!*” jokes? Stephen Colbert called Trump a cockholster on national television. That was a big “got ’em!” moment way back in 2017.

    *”GAY MEN!”

  2. For some reason my first thought when I read: “Your father beat you because you killed your mother”, was a father spanking a little girl, saying: “You naughty kid! I told you not to shoot your mother! Why can’t you ever listen?”

  3. I’ve tried several times to get into Rothrock’s non Hong Kong movies, but I just can’t get too enthusiastic about them. Some of the stuff she’s done with Norton is cool, but she really needs a choreographer like Sammo or Woo Ping to shine.

  4. Say what you want about Cannon, but I bet we would have had a couple more interesting\memorable Rothrock films if she’d joined their fold at the same time Van Damme did. On the other hand, no NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER 2 in that timeline

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