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“Obscure, and justifiably so.”

checkmateYou know a film is rare when the IMDB is using a photo from a completely different movie with the same name to illustrate it – at least, unless Cynthia Rothrock has had a sex-change, got a tan and changed her name to Lawrence Fishburne. I’ve gone for the Netherlands title here, because most of the copies floating around the usual sources seem to be from that. It reminds me a little bit of First Shot, which was also about psycho militia leader, Dutch Leonard (Nichols). seeking revenge on a federal agent, Kate Mason (Rothrock), whom he blames for the death of his brother. It’s FBI rather than Secret Service, and for obvious reasons, Rothrock is a good deal more hands-on than Hemingway. But that’s about the only advantage this offers, as it’s yet more evidence for the increasingly inalienable rule concerning Cynthia Rothrock films: the American ones suck. The fact that this one is not more easily available is perfectly understandable, because if I owned a distribution company, I wouldn’t release it if they were giving the rights away.

The main problem here is Nichols, who looks a bit like a low-rent version of Roddy Piper, and whose performance is so cringe-inducingly bad, you’ll be left yearning for Piper’s subtle, underplayed dramatic style. And I don’t even mean yearning for Piper in the classic They Live, but for the Piper who cut promos for the WWF, when his performance basically consisted of yelling a lot. On the plus side, Nichols does at least make an impression, and you will remember him, even if the impression is mostly, “Christ, this is terrible.” The rest of the film is almost completely forgettable: Cynthia does deliver her usual competence in the fight scenes, but there aren’t enough of them, and the garbage which flows between them is more than enough to drown out any positives. The problems start early, with the fake situation Leonard initially uses to draw out his target. Despite hostages and a large quantity of automatic weapons, the poverty-row budget means the federal presence at the siege reaches single figures. And this is after Ruby Ridge; we know this, because it’s explicitly referenced more than once. I’m guessing it inspired the whole “white rights’ militia” villain.

There’s a whole subsequent subplot involving a local judge, who is in cahoots with Dutch, and using the profits of their gun-running business to fund his gubernatorial campaign. It’s no more interesting than the main storyline, and every moment spent there is a moment wasted, since it could be used for better things, such as Cynthia Rothrock kicking some additional ass. Or simply removing it entirely and shorten the film, which would probably be even more welcome.

Dir: Nicholas Celozzi
Star: Cynthia Rothrock, Stephen Nichols, Patrick Wayne, Alex Hyde-White
a.k.a. Deep Cover

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