Filmed in a part of Australia that masquerades as America, Irresistible Force is in many ways a minor and derivative action film.
Stacy Keach plays an old cop who battles a group of Die Hard-style neo-supremacist baddies occupying a high-tech shopping mall.
African-American director Kevin Hooks (Passenger 57, 1992) expertly throws in every conceivable cliché, right down to a mismatching buddy-cop for Keach. But this is where the film gets interesting, for the partner is none other than B movie legend Cynthia Rothrock.
Rothrock is one of the most exciting and engaging icons of contemporary exploitation cinema. Her persona is an unsettling mixture of classically feminine traits (such as a chic martial arts wardrobe) with an unstoppably masculine aggro. Most often presented as the 'angel of rage', Rothrock routinely murders or severely mutilates the men who have raped and tortured her.
In her previous B movies, this amazing Rothrock persona is never explained, either psychologically or sociologically. She is simply an almighty, irresistible force to be reckoned with.
This film introduces her to a mainstream audience rather more delicately. The script gives her lines about her unconventional family upbringing, her "bad attitude" towards authority, and her ability to "do the girl thing" when required. Keach functions as a dour father-teacher figure, taming her wildness.
But when the uneasy banter stops for the action scenes, Cynthia once again becomes a sublime screen heroine, dishing out violent punishment with a lightning fury.
For those who have never heard of Rothrock, Irresistible Force is a good starting point – but don't forget to check out Tiger Claws (1992), Angel of Fury (1992), their sequels, or any of her other more severe and confronting showcases.
MORE Hooks: Black Dog
© Adrian Martin October 1993