Martial Law (1990)

Posted in Reviews by - February 11, 2016
Martial Law (1990)

Chad McQueen – son of Steve – takes the lead in this meat-headed straight-to-video punch up. He’s hard-boiled LAPD cop Sean Thompson (nicknamed ‘Martial Law’) who breaks up a bank heist by disguising as a pizza delivery boy and kicking the hoods through the windows. To add further macho points, he wears biker leathers and teaches at a karate school. He has a sensitive side, too: he dotes on his wayward younger brother Michael (McCutcheon) – the black sheep of the family – who has sided with the criminals at Jet’s Gym, owned by David Carradine’s suited kingpin Mr Rhodes. Rhodes shifts stolen cars to Japanese crooks and sells weapons to shifty politicians, and most of his stilted business meetings conclude with him killing the other guy with his patented dim mak technique. Sean is also snuggling up with high-kicking fellow cop Billie (Rothrock), who straps a gun to her stockings and buddies up with Sean to take on Rhodes’ gang when Michael gets iced. Rothrock – still fighting fit from her stint in Hong Kong – looks great in action, but this is quite a diminished role for her, even if it does feature key scuffles with the likes of Benny Urquidez and Philip Tan, who has mastered acrobatic kicking a lot better than a cockney accent. Carradine sleepwalks through the film, delivering questionable dialogue with limited conviction. It’s the sort of script in which the police chief says things like, “just another case for Martial Law!” On the other hand, McQueen takes the film in his stride and makes for quite a competent leading man.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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