China O'Brien

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China O'Brien
China O'Brien.jpg
Directed by Robert Clouse
Produced by Raymond Chow
Robert Clouse
Evangeline Griego
Rick Nathanson
Fred Weintraub
Sandra Weintraub
Written by Robert Clouse (Screenplay)
Sandra Weintraub (Story)
Starring Cynthia Rothrock
Richard Norton
Keith Cooke
Doug Wright
Arturo Rivera
Distributed by Studio / Sterling
Release dates
Running time
86 min.
Language English

China O'Brien is a martial arts film starring actress and martial artist Cynthia Rothrock.[1][2]


Police Officer China O'Brien (Cynthia Rothrock) is a good cop who teaches martial arts class to her fellow officers. After an altercation with a gang that leads to the accidental death of a young boy, China resigns from the force, and returns to her hometown of Beaver Creek, Utah. Her father, John O'Brien (David Blackwell), is the sheriff and is very pleased to see her. China discovers that John is gradually losing control of the town to local crime boss Edwin Sommers (Steven Kerby), who controls corrupt deputy Marty Lickner (Patrick Adamson) and corrupt local judge Harry Godar (Will Hazlett). When John and honest deputy Ross Tyler (Chad Walker) are killed by car bombs that were planted by Sommers's henchmen, there is an emergency election to elect a new sheriff.

After seeing that nothing is being done to find her father and friends killer, China runs for sheriff against Lickner to see who take John's place while, at the same time, she starts cleaning up the town with the help of her former high school sweetheart Matt Conroy (Richard Norton). They get extra help from a Native American biker named Dakota (Keith Cooke), whose mother (Judy Kotok) was murdered by Sommers. China wins the election, and then Maria (Gae Cowley), who had been her father's housekeeper up until his death, is murdered by Sommers's men in a drive-by shooting during the victory celebration.

Having won the election, China ends up having to force Godar to swear her in as the new sheriff. China deputizes Matt and Dakota, and they set out to free Beaver Creek from Sommers's stranglehold.

The China O'Brien films have a limited cult film status, but this one gained notoriety in the late 1990s because a young singer/songwriter, then-unknown Tori Amos (at the time going by her birth name Ellen Amos) recorded a song, "Distant Storm," which can only be heard by viewing the original film. Amos is billed in the credits as "Ellen" but the song is attributed to a band called Tess Makes Good, with additional vocals by Ellen Amos (the band, if indeed it existed except as a moniker, made no other known recordings).


  1. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1989-01-29). "Sly's Match?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  2. ^ Parisi, Paula; Cagle, Jess (1991-08-09). "China Syndrome". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 

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