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Bad Movie Tuesday: Night Vision (1997), Cynthia Rothrock kicks no butt at all in this terrible police action movie.

June 28, 2016

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Sadly this dull poster is very honest.  We basically just get these three talking about crime.

MY CALL: Weren’t there supposed to be martial arts in this? Bad. Just plain bad. Probably Cynthia Rothrock’s worst movie. MORE MOVIES LIKE Night Vision: Probably any other Cynthia Rothrock movie would be better than this.  Probably…but don’t hold me to that. This is the first one I’ve seen in about two decades!  LOL.  But if you’re in the mood for a proper Bad Movie Tuesday I’d have to recommend you go with Dolph Lundgren, a case of beer and your best bros.  Perhaps The Elementary Stylings of Kindergarten Cop 2 or Dolph Lundgren and the Curse of the Shark Lake.

I recently decided I wanted to watch a bunch of Cynthia Rothrock (China O’Brien, Undefeatable) movies. Well guess what? That’s surprisingly not easy to do. As it turns out just about none of her movies are affordable on Amazon to buy except for her late 90s direct-to-video stuff and similarly her older stuff is nowhere to be found on Amazon Video or Netflix.

Now before we get started I’m sure you’re asking yourself “but is this a classy movie, like for a date night, right?” You bet, bro! We have ample nudity in just the first three minutes (quite a bit in the first 20 minutes and peppered throughout, in fact), we have the biggest female action star of the era (and she loves wearing tights to show off her karate-kickin’ butt), and one of the biggest names in blaxploitation (Fred Williamson; From Dusk ’til Dawn). So yeah, you bet it’s classy!

Officer Dakota Smith (Fred Williamson) is an aging alcoholic recently demoted beat cop who has problems with authority and a tendency to draw his gun on fellow officers. Kristin O’Connor (Rothrock) is a cute rookie (although she was about 40 when the movie was made) on probation with a tendency to kick sassy cops in the face. It’s as if they were meant to be partners.

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They team up to stop a murderer in a black van from kidnapping and killing his young victims, and videotaping the whole thing to leave a calling card taunting the police. As interesting as that already isn’t, I was saddened to realize that this movie really stars Fred Williamson a lot more than it does Cynthia Rothrock. We have the queen of martial arts and I only see her throw one kick in the first hour. Whereas the aging Williamson has his laughable alley fight in which he strains to awkwardly kick so high I was almost certain he pulled a hamstring and tackles a guy into a pile of empty cardboard boxes. By the way, has anyone actually ever seen a pile of empty cardboard boxes in an alley. My guess is, if you have, they were only there because someone was about to shoot an 80s-90s action scene there.

But hey, there’s some good to this flick. For instance, it’s scored like an action-themed porn movie (sometimes written and filmed like one, too) and it features a kooky dwarf. Perhaps the only aspect of the movie that isn’t awful is Robert Forster’s (Olympus Has Fallen, Jackie Brown) performance and the awkward fat guy having naughty relations. Speaking of which, there’s an awful lot of nude naughtiness going on. All told, we’re looking at about ten boobs in this movie.

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Two oddly misleading posters.  To the left, it looks like we’re getting an edgy action movie featuring Shannon Tweed.  It really only features her boobs.  To the right it looks like a dark mystery.  Nothing dark or mysterious here.

So, I have to wonder, what is Cynthia Rothrock even doing here? She kicks one guy…ONE in the first hour! This is like casting Dolph Lundgren (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, The Expendables 2) and then not letting him break people–kind of like how Dolph Lundgren did zero punching in Shark Lake (2015).  What a waste of a giant Swede! I think the low point of the movie is when Rothrock uses about five different woodwind instrument playing innuendos for a man’s penis. Trombone, flute, sliding trombone…ouch. She must have needed the money. But alas, it gets worse. Towards the end of the movie she has a terrible fight scene (no doubt limited by the complete choreographical inability of the cast of bad guys), probably the worst of her career. It made my heart sink.

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Fred: “Why are you in this movie, Cynthia?
Cynthia: “I really have no idea.  Now please stop holding your hand like your fondling invisible balls!”

At this point you might be thinking “hey, come on, it was the 90s–of course it sucks.” Well, you hold your horses, Youngblood. Jackie Brown, Con Air, Face/Off, Air Force One, Starship Troopers, The Edge, The Jackal, The Fifth Element, G. I. Jane, Tomorrow Never Dies and The Postman all came out in theaters the same year. Wow. Could you imagine being the person who picked Night Vision over any of these for a date night at the movies? LOL.

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See this poster?  ALL LIES!  We see none of this, she doesn’t wear that outfit and doesn’t do that awesome vertical roundhouse kick.  ALL LIES!

Watch out for the 46 minute mark for some of the worst police work EVER. Oof! These two look like they had one completely unrehearsed, site-unseen take to get it right. They look confused and they definitely don’t know how to cover one another. Later we see that no one on set knew what a gunfight should look like or how to handle a gun. These cops don’t know how to be cops. This was perhaps worse than when Dolph was a hitman who stood in one place all the time shooting people in One in the Chamber (2012).  What a terrible hitman!  I consulted the world Dolph Lundgren bad movie expert, Mark Hofmeyer, who confirmed for me that he never moves while shooting.  Ever here of cover?  Dude needs to watch Ronin (1998).  I’d like to see Dolph’s hitman in a gunfight with these movie cops.  What a tragedy!

Probably influenced by Sliver (1993) and Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), our voyeuristic villain always seems to know exactly what our heroes are up to, going so far as to call them just to let them know that he knows where they are. Our killer likes targeting promiscuous Catholic women who can’t keep their clothes on. Evidently the videos are then sold through “crime syndicate porn channels.” I guess we’re supposed to believe that’s a thing just because they said it.  Not since In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds (2011) can I recall a even a Bad Movie Tuesday so poorly written.

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A pretty honest poster considering all the nudity and the general lack of worthy action.

I’m especially fond of the HUGE and luxurious apartment interiors we find within drab apartment complexes and how the little notes our criminal mastermind videographer leaves hint that this movie thinks it’s playing off Seven (1995). The film seemed to think it had a lot to say about alcoholism and adultery, but none of it was very convincing. This was wholesale stupidity presented before us with a straight face.

The director (Gil Bettman) had really only ever done some TV work and a handful of unrecognizable movies. He doesn’t seem to have a clue how to direct an action movie, or a dramatic seen… or anything. And speaking of everything he did wrong, weren’t there supposed to be martial arts in this? He cast “the queen of martial arts” didn’t give her anyone with fighting experience to face? So she just hits people, and they just get hit and don’t really do anything back. Stupid….just stupid.

Watch this for a good laugh with a buzz but do not, I repeat DO NOT watch this expecting to see a Cynthia Rothrock martial arts movie. For of all the horrible things this movie is, “that” it is not.

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