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Review Sworn to Justice (1996): Too ambitious for it's own good!

genre: martial arts, action, drama, thriller

Normally I would applaud a little ambition. But if that same ambition stands in the way of the ass kicking, I have to speak out. For whatever reason, the powers that be decided for Cynthia Rothrock to be a femme fatale in the classical sense. And while I adore her deadliness and she certainly can be immensely sexy, she simply doesn't possess the acting chops to be a fatal seductress. Writer / director Paul Maslak also doesn't understand that there is more to the concept.

Like in most of her films, she is a martial arts expert. Naturally, it's the one reason, people like me are a fan of her. But to spice things up, they also made her psychic. And to enforce the idea, they even brought in Walter Koenig to convince of this fact. With a super thick German accent, because of course all psychological doctors and scientists are German. But he is not the only actor brought in to give credibility to this film. Tony Lo Bianco, Mako and Brad Dourif are in the film. It's truly puzzling as they are all wasted in their roles and obviously aren't really taking things seriously. Actually, the whole tone of the film is off. It's serious one minute, the second it's comedic and light. That probably can be contributed to writer / director Paul Maslak. He clearly is out of his depth. I am sure that with a better and more competent director, the film would have been a lot better.

Fortunately, there are some redeeming factors. The action is decent. Nothing memorable or mind-blowing, but of acceptable level. Kurt McKinney as the love interest for Cynthia's character. He actually has a presence. Too bad he hasn't been given better material to work with. But he does the best he can. And if you thought his role / performance in No Retreat, No Surrender was a fluke, think again. He showcases his excellent martial art skills with finesse.

While Sworn to Justice certainly isn't the worst Cynthia Rothrock has done, I can't honestly recommend this. It's quite bad. This production does make you appreciate her Hong Kong films. Corey Yuen for example, managed to focus on her strengths instead of exposing her flaws.

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