Cynthia Rothrock (born 8 March 1957) is an
actress specializing in Martial arts films. Only 5'3" tall, she was born
in Wilmington, Delaware, and was brought up in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Martial arts achievements
She is five-time (and undefeated) World
Karate Champion in Forms and Weapons between 1981 and 1985. These
categories are not segregated into male and female categories but are
five Black belts in various Far Eastern martial disciplines, including
Tang Soo Do
Kwon Do (Korean), Eagle Claw (Chinese), Wu Shu (contemporary
Chinese), and Northern Shaolin (classical Chinese). She also works as a
martial arts instructor.
Northern California was her home in 1983
where she worked with the West Coast Demonstration Team. At this time
Golden Harvest was searching in Los Angeles for the next
Bruce Lee. Rothrock's forms and maneuvers
were observed and the Golden Harvest signed a contract with her. It was
two years (1985) later that she made her first martial arts movie for
them, Huang gu shi jie (also known as Yes Madam or In the Line of Duty
Part 2) which also starred Michelle Yeoh.
It proved to be a box office success. She ended up staying in Hong Kong
until 1988 doing seven films there. She may be the first Caucasian actor
that ever had a lead role in a Chinese picture as a "good guy." At the
time, the typical role for Caucasian was cast as either the bad guy or
as comic relief.
Rothrock became one of the few Caucasian performers to achieve genuine
stardom in the local Hong Kong film industry before achieving success in
their own country. Producer Pierre David initiated Rothrock's move to
the American turf. David offered her a costarring role with Chad McQueen
in Martial Law, Rothrock's first U.S. production. For the next ten years
led successful career in B-grade action movies. Her films include China
O'Brien and China O'Brien 2, Guardian Angel, Honor & Glory, No Retreat,
No Surrender 2 and Prince of the Sun amongst a roster of thirty films.
Rothrock also appeared as Bertha Jo in the 1997 television film The
Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion. She was an inspiration for the video game
character Sonya Blade. And lended her voice on the animated series Eek
stated that, "throughout my life, I've been opening the door for other
women to get involved with this (martial arts movies). I was the first
woman to be on the cover of a karate magazine and the first woman to win
a men's championship."