Martial arts star Cynthia Rothrock has one of her better outings as LADY DRAGON, aka Kathy Gallager, an embittered young woman who's still mourning the year-old murder of her husband, on their wedding day, by local crime czar Richard Norton.
Stuck in Indonesia, Gallager makes a bare living in kickboxing matches run by Chin (H.I.M. Damsyik). Warned off revenge by her best friend Gibson (Robert Ginty), Gallager dons a disguise and visits Ludwig Hauptman (Norton), who rapes her, beats her up and dumps her body in the countryside. She's
found by Grandfather (Piet Burnama), a mute martial arts sage, who with his young grandson (Diaz Tangkilisan) nurses her back to health and teaches her some new fighting techniques.
Months later, Gallager infiltrates Hauptman's company Imperial Export (he's shipping cocaine and heroin in barrels marked "powdered milk") by befriending his business partner Susan (Bella Esperance). She discovers undercover cop Allan (Hengky Tornando) also working there. Gallager's ruse is
uncovered by the turncoat Gibson, who's on Hauptman's payroll. Gallager kills him, and Susan and Hauptman retaliate by burning down Grandfather's house and kidnapping him, forcing her into a big-stakes showdown kickboxing match, overseen by Chin, which Gallager gruellingly wins. Her revenge thus
sated, Allan and the police haul off Susan and what's left of Hauptman, and Gallager drives off with her new "family," Grandfather and the boy, to rebuild his house.
Clifford Mohr's screenplay incorporates some specifics from other films (Gallager's murdered-groom predicament from THE BRIDE WORE BLACK; her slow physical recovery/martial arts tutelage from HARD TO KILL and BLIND FURY) and generally recycles genre cliches in decent fashion, although the usual
plot implausibilities still nag, such as Hauptman's failing to recognize the thinly disguised Gallager not once but twice. The film is entertainingly directed by David Worth (WARRIORS OF THE LOST WORLD, KICKBOXER) who also photographed it, with good orchestration of the kickboxing melees and
lively car and motorcycle chases and shootouts.
Although veteran Robert Ginty (THE EXTERMINATOR, HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN) is wasted in a surprisingly tiny and extraneous role, the acting is good, with the usually heroic Norton (this former Chuck Norris protege was Rothrock's bad-guy-smashing sidekick in CHINA O'BRIEN) excellent as
the kind of slimy villain who enjoys rape and torture, setting his traitorous minions on fire, and watching local peasant women bloodily splashing after a ruby he tosses into his swimming pool.
Norton and Rothrock's climactic crunching chopfest is one of the best martial arts displays of the year. Rothrock gets a lavish star intro here, like Clark Gable in THE MISFITS: the camera tracks up behind her and she suddenly swings around into a close-up, cuing the pumping theme music by Jim
West. She's also better photographed here than usual, with better makeup and wardrobe, even diving into some big-star drop-dead glamour when she dons her black wig, spikeheels, and black sequinned mini.
Produced entirely in Indonesia, executive-produced by local prolific mogul Sam S. (who plays a bit part as a diplomat), and with better than average production values, LADY DRAGON was released direct-to-video. (Violence, profanity, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Martial arts star Cynthia Rothrock has one of her better outings as LADY DRAGON, aka Kathy Gallager, an embittered young woman who's still mourning the year-old murder of her husband, on their wedding day, by local crime czar Richard Norton. Stuck in Indo… (more)