It’s been a while since I’ve written up a real dog, so I figure I should return to form and do it right with one of those darlings of Youtube, Godfrey Ho’s shameful filming of Cynthia Rothrock’s most desperate hour, Undefeatable. In cases of movies like Catman 2: Boxer’s Blow, I can understand why a guy might agree to “act” in such a movie. Crystal meth doesn’t pay for itself and a couple of days worth of shooting and dismal martial arts sure beats shooting gay porn, unless you’re into that sort of thing. But Cynthia Rothrock should have known better. She’s certainly a z-list actress but her work in Hong Kong movies like Above The Law and Shanghai Express is pretty good so how the hell did she wind up here?
If you’re just joining us, Godfrey Ho qualifies as one of the world’s worst film makers, maybe even THE worst film maker. I know that at some point, some committee got together and bestowed Ed Wood with that title, but they clearly had never seen Undefeatable when they made their decision. I once knew this kid in third grade who told a group of us guys at recess about this movie his uncle in California was making. Even at 8 years old I could detect bullshit and the movie he described included ninjas doing jump kicks off the top of buildings while Chuck Norris and Stallone caught throwing stars with their teeth. Russian guys fired precious ammo into the American flag just to piss off the jingoistic action hero and in the end a karate battle erupts wherein something like five hundred ninjas fight this kid, his uncle and Chuck Norris with swords, smoke bombs, ninja stars and all that shit. First of all, this imaginary movie would be awesome, but secondly it would also be a better, more coherent and worthwhile movie than Undefeatable.
Paul, later to be known as Stingray, is a death match fightin’, permed mullet havin’, abusive husband, psychopath rapist with mother issues. When his wife/punching bag/frequent rape victim finally up and leaves him, he goes off the chain, sprays a couple of red stripes into his perfectly permed mullet and hits the streets looking for her. This, of course, means that every woman who looks remotely like his missing wife is fit to be tied and he goes about fucking up their particular significant others only to take the women back to his, I don’t know, factory(?) to be tortured and raped. Meanwhile, Kristy, played by Rothrock, rolls with her gang of extras from the Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation video and partakes of lame street fights where the loser is, apparently, the first person to fall down. She makes money doing this and uses it to pay for her sister’s college education. There’s also a cop with a heart of gold who also whips ass with the kung fu and tries to steer her into a straight life.
What’s really strange about this movie is that it actually has a script. Typically, Godfrey Ho doesn’t even bother. Most of his movies seem like improvised inserts shot to somehow fit into the continuity of the movie he has hijacked and dubbed to be another movie entirely. While Undefeatable barely qualifies as storytelling it’s entertaining in that it is absolutely terrible in every conceivable way. The cast is made up of people who at one time probably held the boom mic, rangled cables or tended to craft services on the set. In typical Godfrey Ho style, his firm belief in action every five minutes is firmly intact. There is frequent fighting. But the charm doesn’t end there.
The real star of the movie is Stingray, played by a guy named Don Niam. According to the IMDB, Niam didn’t work in much outside of this movie and wound up in some soft-core porno before he called it a day and went back to doing what he did in the first place, physical training. Like many action stars of Godfrey Ho, his skills as a fighter are negligible at best but it’s a riot to watch him do his thing. His acting range never varies outside of the wild-eyed roid rage facial expression that he carries throughout the movie. As it progresses the veins in his forehead bulge bigger and bigger. By the movie’s hilarious final battle, I started to worry that he was going to have a stroke. The only thing missing from his crazed, sweaty close-ups is foam around his mouth. If you’re going to watch this movie for any reason at all, make it Stingray.
So the movie moves along at a brisk pace but it’s nearly half over before the pivotal moment happens. Kristy’s sister, who looks like Stingray’s runaway wife, is accosted by Stingray. He beats up her boyfriend and then beats her up before bringing her back to his place for a little eye gouging. Nick, the cop, shows up to Kristy’s place to break the news and after she identifies the body in a hilarious sustained scene of hysterical crying and a coroner who won’t cover the mutilated remains while Kristy continues to freak out, she sets out to find out who killed her. During the search, Kristy and her gang fight more Rhythm Nation dancers but there isn’t a break in the case until the psychology teacher of Kristy’s sister shows up to the police station to offer a little advice. The advice leads to Stingray but not before he kidnaps the psychiatrist who tries to play mind games with him but winds up in chains. She uses her cellphone to lead Kristy to the warehouse where she’s kept. Kristy fights Stingray and then Nick and partner show up. Stingray kills Nick’s partner and the gloves come off. Stingray manages to get to the hospital and Nic, Kristy and Stingray fight in the basement.
The martial arts in Undefeatable are completely fucking awful. They occasionally show a little promise since Rothrock is clearly behind some of the choreography but no one, aside from her, is trained in stage fighting so it looks as fake as can be. Fists miss faces by a mile and still the actors react as if they’ve been hit. Most of the time, Ho shoots the fights in slow motion anyway and things look even more awkward than before. The final fight incorporates all of Ho’s worst techniques and features Rothrock fighting with her arm in a sling since she was grazed by Stingray’s sword in a previous fight scene. It goes on and on and on as both Stingray and Nick bulge their eyes and try and kill one another in as non-lethal a manner as possible. The entire soundtrack of the scene comprises of two guys going, “RAAAAAAAARRR!” until Rothrock joins the fight and feminine howl joins the din. The whole god damn thing is hilarious and if it wasn’t funny enough already, the fate of Stingray will leave you gasping for air as a hook in the eye carries his dead bodies away while Kristy and Nick put the button on the scene with lines like, “We’ll keep an eye out for you.” and “Yeah! See ya!”
But we’re not finished.
Kristy, the Rhythm Nation dancers and Nick gather at her sister’s grave where she dissolves the gang, announces that she enrolled them all in college and then Nick declares that she has been enrolled as well. Where the money is coming from, I can’t say. The reason she was fighting in the first place was to make ends meet, but it’s often a good idea not to question the logic of a Godfrey Ho movie. You’ll drive yourself crazy in a Lovecraftian manner where the sheer size of the universe is revealed to you and your insignificant role in the greater scheme of things drives you out of your mind.
Despite being one of the worst movies ever put to film, Undefeatable is extremely watchable. Every agonizing second is laugh worthy. Every awkward delivery, every strange motivation, every awful fight scene. Godfrey Ho is the patron saint of the direct to video market and fans of USA’s Up All Night movies should take note. At some point, I guarantee that they ran this movie on it but if you missed it, you should check it out. It’s chock full of awful 90’s fashion and Stingray’s mullet expands and contracts from scene to scene.