Cynthia Rothrock

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Cynthia Rothrock
Cynthia Rothrock 2018 by Glenn Francis.jpg
Rothrock 2018
BornCynthia Ann Christine Markowski
(1957-03-08) March 8, 1957 (age 65)
Wilmington, Delaware, US
Other namesFoo Lok Law
Years active1985–2004; 2011–present
OccupationFilm actress
Martial arts instructor
Ernest Rothrock
(m. 1976, divorced)
Foo Lok Law
Traditional Chinese羅芙洛
Simplified Chinese罗芙洛

Cynthia Ann Christine Rothrock (born March 8, 1957) is an American martial artist and actress in martial arts films. Rothrock holds black belt rankings in seven styles of martial arts and was a high-level competitor in martial arts before becoming an actress.

Early life[edit]

Rothrock was born March 8, 1957, in Wilmington, Delaware, to Edward and Ann (Exeter) Markowski. She grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and started taking martial arts lessons at the age of 13.[1] She is of Polish descent.


Martial arts[edit]

Rothrock was World Champion in forms and weapons five times between 1981 and 1985.[2] These categories are not combat-oriented, being displays of fluidity of movement rather than fighting, and are not segregated into male and female categories but fully open to both sexes.[3][4]

She took first place in forms 32 times and first place in weapons 12 times in her first 38 tournaments, including competing in "Men's Forms" three out of four times as there was no Women's Division. She was "Grand Master" of five tournaments and came in first place in 4 out of 5 fighting events.[5]

She holds seven black belts and sashes in multiple Far Eastern martial disciplines, including Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo (Korean), Eagle Claw (Chinese), Wushu, Northern Shaolin, Ng Ying Kungfu (Chinese: 五形功夫), and Pai Lum White Dragon Kung Fu.[6][7] She received her 6th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan in 2006. She was tested by Grand Master Robert Kovaleski, 9th Dan and chair of the I.T.M.A., and was later promoted by him to 7th degree black belt in 2011 and 8th degree black belt in 2015.[8] She is a martial arts instructor and her favorite weapons are the hook swords.[9]

In 1983, Rothrock was inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame as "Female Competitor of the Year".[6] She was the first woman to appear on the cover of a martial arts magazine, and in 1986 co-authored a book with George Chung titled, Advanced Dynamic Kicks.[10][11] In 2014, she was honored with the Legacy Award at the Urban Action Showcase & Expo at HBO.[12]


In 1983, while Rothrock was on Ernie Reyes' West Coast Demonstration Team, she was discovered by Golden Harvest in Los Angeles, California. It was two years (1985) later that she made her first martial arts movie for them, Yes, Madam (also known as Police Assassins 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.[6][13] Possibly her first US film was 24 Hours to Midnight, a Leo Fong directed film which also starred Stack Pierce, Juan Chapa and Bernie Pock.[14]

Rothrock became one of the few western performers to achieve genuine stardom in the local Hong Kong film industry before achieving success in their own country. She was credited as 羅芙洛 ("Fu Lok Law" or "Foo Lok Law") in many Hong Kong movies.[15] Producer Pierre David initiated Rothrock's move to the American turf. David offered her a co-starring role with Chad McQueen in Martial Law, Rothrock's first U.S. production. For the next ten years, she led a 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.[16][17]

Rothrock appeared as Bertha Jo in the 1997 television film The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!.[18] She was an inspiration for the video game character Sonya Blade from the Mortal Kombat fighting game franchise[19] and lent her voice on the animated series Eek the Cat.[11]

She made an appearance in the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, playing Hera's second Enforcer in the 1996 episode "Not Fade Away".

After starring in the 2004 film Xtreme Fighter (a.k.a. Sci-Fighter), where she played Sally Kirk / The White Dragon, before she retired from acting to teach private martial arts lessons at her martial arts studio in Studio City, California.[20]

She returned to acting for the role as Nanna in the 2012 Christmas family film Santa's Summer House, alongside British martial artist and actor Gary Daniels.[21]

In 2014, she starred in the action movie Mercenaries, alongside Kristanna Loken, Brigitte Nielsen, Vivica A. Fox and Zoë Bell.[22]

Radio and podcast appearances[edit]

Rothrock appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor podcast on March 16, 2016. Rothrock also appeared on Scott Adkins's The Art of Action - Episode 12 podcast on September 1, 2020.

Personal life[edit]

At the age of 19, Cynthia married her kung fu instructor Ernest Rothrock on September 25, 1976, at St. Mary's Church in the Greenwood Section of Moosic, Pennsylvania. They have since divorced.[23][24] She has one daughter, Skylar Sophia Rothrock, who was born in 1999.[25] She works as a martial arts teacher,[26] and co-owns a martial arts studio in Studio City, California as part of the Z Ultimate Self Defense Studios chain of martial arts studios.[27]

She was romantically involved with Hong Kong film actor Mang Hoi in the '80s.[28]


Year English title Role Notes Ref.
International Philippines
1985 Yes, Madam The Super Cops Senior Inspector Carrie Morris Original title: 皇家師姐 / a.k.a. Police Assassins [29]
24 Hours to Midnight Devon Grady
Defend Yourself a.k.a. Sybervision
1986 Millionaires Express China Warriors Mountain Bandit Chinese: 富貴列車 / a.k.a. Shanghai Express [30]
The Magic Crystal Fight to Win Cindy Morgan Original title: 魔翡翠
Righting Wrongs Fight to Win II Senior Inspector Cindy Si Original title: 執法先鋒
a.k.a. Above the Law
1987 Fight to Win Sensei Lauren a.k.a. Eyes of the Dragon

a.k.a. Dangerous Passages

No Retreat, No Surrender 2 Raging Thunder Terry a.k.a. No Retreat, No Surrender II: Raging Thunder [32]
1988 The Inspector Wears Skirts Lady Enforcer Madam Law Original title: 霸王花
a.k.a. Top Squad
Jungle Heat Original title: Rapid Fire
1989 Righting Wrongs II: Blonde Fury Cindy Original title: 師姐大晒
a.k.a. Above the Law II: Blond Fury
City Cops Inspector Cindy Original title: 妙探雙龍
a.k.a. Beyond the Law

a.k.a. Free Fighter

1990 Prince of the Sun Bencheuk Original title: 太陽之子 / Original title: Tai yang zhi zi
Deadliest Art: Best of the Martial Arts Films Herself (archive footage)
China O'Brien Officer Lori 'China' O'Brien
China O'Brien II Sheriff Lori 'China' O'Brien
Triple Cross Nancy Bolan a.k.a. Angel of Fury
Lady Dragon Kathy Galagher
1991 Martial Law Officer Billie Blake
Fast Getaway Super Outlaws Lilly
Martial Law 2: Undercover Billie Blake a.k.a. Karate Cop
Tiger Claws Detective Linda Masterson
Rage and Honor Kris Fairfield
Honor and Glory Naked Fists Tracey Pride Original title: Zong heng tian xia [34]
1993 Rage and Honor II: Hostile Takeover Kris Fairfield [35]
Rage and Honor 3 Kris Fairfield
Irresistible Force (film) Charlotte Heller
1994 Lady Dragon 2 Susan 'The Golden Angel' Morgan [36]
Undefeatable Kristi Jones Original title: 摧花狂魔
a.k.a. Bloody Mary Killer
Fast Getaway II Lilly
Guardian Angel McKay [37]
1995 Fatal Passion Laurel
1996 Eye for an Eye (1996 film) Tina
Tiger Claws II Linda Masterson
1997 Night Vision (1997) Kristin O'Connor
  • (1996) Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (TV Series) as Enforcer II (Episode "Not Fade Away")
  • (1996) Sworn to Justice (a.k.a. Blond Justice) as Janna
  • (1996) Checkmate
  • (1996) The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts-Martial Combat
  • (1996) American Tigers as Herself
  • (1997) The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (TV Movie) as Bertha Jo
  • (1997) Deep Cover as FBI Special Agent Kate Mason
  • (1998) The Hostage
  • (1999) Tiger Claws 3 as Linda Masterson
  • (2000) Manhattan Chase as Nancy
  • (2001) Ren she tou du
  • (2001) Redemption as Erin Murphy
  • (2002) Outside the Law as Julie Cosgrove
  • (2004) Xtreme Fighter (a.k.a. Sci-Fighter) as Sally 'The White Dragon' Kirk
  • (2007) Bala Perdida (a.k.a. Lost Bullet) as Cynthia
  • (2012) Santa's Summer House as Nanna
  • (2013) Badass Showdown as Ivy
  • (2014) Mercenaries as CIA Agent Mona Kendall
  • (2014) Rogue Space: The Adventures of Saber Raine
  • (2015) The Martial Arts Kid as Cindy
  • (2016) Showdown in Manila as Haines
  • (2016) Beyond the Game
  • (2016) Asian Ghost Story as The Narrator (voice)
  • (2016) Fists of Fury as Herself - Host
  • (2017) Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine as Kandra Syn
  • (2017) A Doggone Hollywood as Mom In Car
  • (2017) Death Fighter as Valerie
  • (2018) Fury of the Fist and the Golden Fleece as Counter Attendant
  • (2018) Cool Cat Kids Superhero as Momma Cat (voice)
  • (2018) B-Team as General Rothrock (voice)
  • (2018) Paying Mr. McGetty as Herself
  • (2021) Vendetta Vette as LaRue
  • (2021) Cool Cat Saves The Kids (Director's Cut) - Momma Cat (voice, archive footage from Cool Cat Kids Superhero)
  • (2022) Prey of Wrath as Brenda Sands
  • No Way Back as Angela O'Leary
  • Diary of A Lunatic as Mrs. Cloudover
  • Anadellia Rises as Priscilla Kasper


  1. ^ "Cynthia Rothrock biography". Archived from the original on July 27, 2018. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  2. ^ Cagle, Jess; Parisi, Paula (August 9, 1991). "Cynthia Rothrock: Action star". Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on January 22, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  3. ^ Castinado, Marian K. (1996). "Kungfu's Screen Queen - Cynthia Rothrock". Kung Fu Magazine. TC Media. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  4. ^ Meisler, Andy (July 3, 1994). "The Biggest Star You Never Heard Of". Television. The New York Times. p. 21. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522.
  5. ^ Zimmerman, Richard (November 1978). "Focussing energies with Kung Fu". Black Belt. Vol. 17, no. 11. Los Angeles, California: Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 45–49. ISSN 0277-3066.
  6. ^ a b c Rothrock, Cynthia (September 1992). "Hollywood's Hit Woman". Black Belt. Vol. 30, no. 9. Los Angeles, California: Active Interest Media, Inc. p. 90. ISSN 0277-3066.
  7. ^ Ollhoff, Jim (2008). "Cynthia Rothrock". In Hamilton, John (ed.). Martial Arts Movies. World of Martial Arts). ABDO. pp. 16–17. ISBN 9781599289809.
  8. ^ "Kovaleski Promoted to 8th Degree Black Belt in Seoul, Korea". In The News. World Wide Dojo. 2011. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  9. ^ "A3U – Cynthia Rothrock Episode". A3U Archived from the original on March 11, 2008. Retrieved February 18, 2008.
  10. ^ Chung, George; Rothrock, Cynthia (March 1, 1986). Lee, Mike (ed.). Advanced Dynamic Kicks. Santa Clarita, California: Ohara. ISBN 9780897501293.
  11. ^ a b Rance, Penelope T. J. (2005). Martial Arts. Virgin Books. p. 118. ISBN 9780753510780.
  12. ^ "UFLHOH 2014 - 2014 Honorees". Urban Action Showcase & Expo. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  13. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1989). "Sly's Match?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  14. ^ "24 Hours to Midnight (1985)". FilmAffinity. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  15. ^ Palmer, Bill (1995). The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts Movies. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 411. ISBN 9780810830271.
  16. ^ Willis, Andrew (September 4, 2004). Film Stars: Hollywood and Beyond. Manchester University Press. pp. 174–179. ISBN 9780719056451.
  17. ^ Smith, Sid (1993). "The First Action Heroes 3 Female Martial Artists Ready To Blaze Trail To Big Screen". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 14, 2018. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  18. ^ Everett, Todd (April 24, 1997). "Review: 'Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!'". Variety. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  19. ^ DiLauro, Rob (July 23, 2018). "Exclusive Interview: Cinema Icon Cynthia Rothrock Talks Her Career, Rise To Stardom And More". We Got This Covered. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  20. ^ Hill, Katrina (2012). Action Movie Freak. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. pp. 246–247. ISBN 9781440232268.
  21. ^ "Action stars unite for Christmas family film "Santa's Summer House" (exclusive)". August 10, 2012.
  22. ^ Strauss, Bob (August 29, 2014). "Burbank International Film Festival to shine the spotlight on 'media capital'". Los Angeles Daily News.
  23. ^ "Cynthia Rothrock's facebook". Facebook.
  24. ^ "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cynthia Rothrock (Undefeatable, China O'Brien)". Interviews. Bristol Bad Film Club. March 19, 2017. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  25. ^ "Skylar Sophia Rothrock - Biographical Summaries of Notable People". Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  26. ^ Johansen, Kendeyl. "Cynthia Rothrock, One Tough Black Belt Mama". Movie Stars. Disney Family. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010.
  27. ^ Story, Gregory. "The Way of Star Power". World BlackBelt Online. World Black Belt Inc. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011.
  28. ^ "Hong Kong Cinemagic - Meng Hoi".
  29. ^ "Grand Opening Today". Manila Standard. Standard Publishing, Inc. January 28, 1988. Retrieved January 6, 2019. JACKY CHAN SALUTES THEM... CHUCK NORRIS FEARS THEM... ALL THE OTHER MASTERS,...BEWARE OF THEM!
  30. ^ "2nd Action-Packed Day!". Manila Standard. Standard Publications, Inc. August 21, 1987. p. 9. Retrieved August 23, 2020. The Fiercest Encounter of Martial Arts Experts in a Gigantic Movie!
  31. ^ "Grand Opening Today". The Manila Standard. March 17, 1987. p. 15.
  32. ^ "Opens Today". Manila Standard. Standard Publications, Inc. November 5, 1987. p. 10. Retrieved June 20, 2020. CINDY ROTHROCK: The biggest threat to JACKY CHAN
  33. ^ "Grand Opening Today". Manila Standard. Standard Publishing, Inc. August 11, 1988. p. 14. Retrieved January 14, 2019. Flash! Flash! Flash! Cindy Rothrock reveals for the first time her secret training on how she became a tough lady cop on screen!
  34. ^ "Grand Opening Today". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. July 15, 1992. p. 20. Retrieved May 14, 2021. THE SOVIET UNION IS CRUMBLING... and a nuclear trigger is on the black market only CINDY ROTHROCK can stop JASON SLADE from selling the trigger to IRAQ.
  35. ^ "Opens Friday!". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. July 30, 1995. p. 23. Retrieved February 1, 2022.
  36. ^ "Grand Opening Today". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. January 12, 1994. p. 18. Retrieved May 10, 2021. a DAVID WORTH Film
  37. ^ "Cindy plays bodyguard in 'Guardian'". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. November 18, 1994. p. 22. Retrieved June 8, 2021.

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