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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Guardian Angel

July 18, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Guardian Angel

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #515: Guardian Angel

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never, after being kicked out of a window in slow motion, exploded, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and fifteen, I take a look at the Cynthia Rothrock action flick Guardian Angel, which hit video store shelves in late November 1994.

Guardian Angel

GuardianAngelDVD

Guardian Angel, also known as Beyond Justice and directed by Richard W. Munchkin, is a fast paced, stripped down, no nonsense action flick from the legendary PM Entertainment outfit. It’s also the first, and I believe the only, movie action star Cynthia Rothrock made with PM, although I could be wrong about that (I think I am, but I can’t find any information anywhere saying that I am. How could she have only made one movie for PM?). The movie is a good showcase for Rothrock’s ass kicking skills and considerable on screen charisma.

Rothrock is Christine McKay, a badass LAPD detective investigating counterfeiters in the city. Along with her female partner (I have no idea who played her) and then her fiancé Nick (Marshall Teague) after her female partner is shot dead at a swanky criminal underworld party, McKay is hot on the trail of Nina (Lydie Denier), one of the masterminds of this counterfeiting scheme. After taking out a street gang, shooting up that swanky criminal underworld party, and destroying an entire bar filled with drunk and high assholes, McKay and Nick find Nina at a museum where another full scale brawl ensues. In the ensuing chaos, Nina somehow captures Nick and threatens to kill him. Nina then shoots Nick in the head right in front of McKay and steals a police car. Eventually, Nina is arrested and sent to prison for murder, counterfeiting, and God knows what else. McKay goes to see Nina in her cell to find out why she shot Nick and clearly doesn’t like the answer (Nina did it because she wanted to). McKay then attacks Nina in public as she’s being transferred to some other facility. McKay’s superiors see all of this and reprimand McKay on the spot (cops don’t attack prisoners in public). McKay decides right then and there that she’s had enough of being a cop and quits.

So six months pass, and McKay has become a sort of scumbum bodyguard for hire, living in a motorhome and yelling at her dog because the dog is lazy and can’t dispense the kind of life advice that she really needs. McKay’s latest job is for mega rich guy Hobbs (Daniel McVicar), who has a butler named Clayton (John O’Leary) and, on occasion, throws pool parties where super-hot babes in bikinis walk around and whatnot. McKay isn’t too keen on taking the job as Hobbs is a bit of a dick and none of his employees see her as a bodyguard (they all think she’s the plumber), but when she finds out that Hobbs is in need of protection from his ex-girlfriend and that ex-girlfriend is Nina (yes, that Nina), McKay is all about the job. Well, that, and she needs the money.

Now, why the hell would Hobbs be afraid of Nina, a cop killer who is in prison? Because Nina is no longer in prison. She escaped not that long ago and immediately went on a killing spree, taking out many of her former criminal associates while trying to retrieve the plates that allowed her to be a big deal counterfeiter. If she’s out looking for those plates, there’s a good chance she’ll come by looking for Hobbs, too, as they apparently have some unfinished “couples” business to deal with.

So McKay takes the “bodyguard for Hobbs” job, moves into his mansion, and immediately has to save him from multiple assassination attempts. Some of the killers are somehow affiliated with Nina, while others seem to be in the employ of some other criminal outfit (I’m confused on that point. I assume these assassins work for David, played by Robert Miano, but I’m not entirely sure about that). When the danger shows up and Hobbs’s life really is in danger, the killers, regardless of who they work for, are relentless. They try to shoot Hobbs, poison him, they blow up a country club, among other things. And McKay is always right there, kicking ass and protecting Hobbs while dealing with his endless come ons. Even in the midst of certain death, Hobbs wants to bang every pretty woman he sees, and McKay is right there in front of him.

Now, while all of that is going on, McKay’s old cop boss (I think this is Goddard, played by Anna Dalva in her only movie role) is pissed that McKay is working for Hobbs. And McKay is pissed that Goddard never notified her that Nina escaped. And while all of that is going on, misogynistic asshole cop Ostendorf (Ken McLeod) is just being a, well, misogynistic asshole to McKay (why would a man want a woman protecting him?). Why does it seem as though he’s trying to sabotage her new career and her life as a whole?

So then more mayhem ensues, McKay beats the crap out of more assassins and thugs and whatnot, several people go to see David in a mental hospital for some reason, and it all ends with total pandemonium. There’s more fighting, people die, and there’s a final confrontation of sorts between McKay and Nina. It’s not a spoiler to say that it ends exactly the way you expect it to.

Well, sort of. You’d think a movie starring one of the best on screen martial artists would end in a knockdown, drag out kung fu brawl or, at least, a moment where Rothrock’s McKay chops Nina is the throat and kills her (or a kick to the heart that sends her out of a window and then onto a pile of dynamite), but it doesn’t end like that at all. Instead, we get a boat chase of sorts that ends with a massive explosion. I’m not going to complain about that ending, but, again, it’s strange that the movie doesn’t end with a fight. PM Entertainment movies are known for their explosions, sure, but you have Cynthia Rothrock here. Why the hell isn’t she kicking the bad woman’s head off in the final scene?

Still, even with that strange ending, Guardian Angel is a fine action flick. It knows what its audience wants to see, and we see star Cynthia Rothrock wiping the floor with plenty of bad guys. And, for the most part, those bad guys are no match for her. No matter what they do, no matter how many guns or henchmen they have with them, they all get their asses kicked by the Lady Dragon. And to say that all of that is incredibly satisfying would be a serious understatement.

Does Guardian Angel have story problems? Absolutely. If the LAPD is investigating criminal gangs engaging in money counterfeiting, why isn’t the LAPD working in conjunction with the Secret Service or the FBI? Why does it seem as though McKay isn’t the least bit upset by her female partner’s death? And where is McKay’s dog when she moves into Hobbs’s mansion? We only see that dog in McKay’s motorhome. And how the hell does a dangerous criminal like Nina break out of prison and not be the subject of a massive police search? She killed a cop.

Of course, with the breakneck pace of Guardian Angel and the copious action scenes, odds are most people watching it aren’t going to notice any of that stuff. Watching Cynthia Rothrock beat the shit out of people is what’s important. And the audience will get that in Guardian Angel. I am surprised, though, that with the earnestness of the movie that it hasn’t been the subject of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type spoofing. I can totally see that kind of thing happening, if and when anyone ever decides to do that kind of thing. I wouldn’t, but I can see someone else doing it.

Rothrock does a fantastic job as McKay. She’s a fighting machine that just destroys every single obstacle in her path and that’s just awesome to witness. At the same time, McKay is kind of a goofball and Rothrock gives her a playful side. We see that with her female partner in the opening, with Marshall Teague, and eventually with McVicar and that dog. And I think you’ll enjoy the way she deals with all of the “women are weak” shit she encounters. When will people figure out that you just don’t mess with Cynthia fucking Rothrock?

Lydie Denier does a great job as Nina, the criminal most responsible for altering McKay’s life. Denier makes Nina absolutely ruthless, which makes her eventual comeuppance that much sweeter. Denier also has a sexiness that makes her ruthlessness hilarious because you can tell that some of her male criminal associates are smitten with her and she uses that to her advantage. Why haven’t these dudes figured out that Nina wants what they want, money and power, and will do anything to get it? Why do they keep underestimating her when they’ve seen her kill people, including cops, in front of other cops? Fucking morons.

Daniel McVicar is funny as Hobbs, the rich guy. He’s a dick, sure, but it’s hard to completely hate him. He has a good back and forth with Rothrock, and, man, you just want to see her kick him in the nuts. She doesn’t because, again, even when he’s a dick it’s hard to hate him, but it’s still something you want to see anyway.

Ken McLeod is brilliant as the misogynistic asshole cop Ostendorf. You can’t stand him before he starts spouting off about how women are weak, etc., and when he does start doing that stuff, my God, he needs way more than a kick to the nuts. It’s funny that he can’t stand women but yet works for a woman in Goddard. How the hell did she put up with that shit?

Marshall Teague’s brief appearance is interesting, mostly because I had no idea he was a martial artist. I mean, if he isn’t one, he sure fakes it well in this movie. He has good couples chemistry with Rothrock, and it’s a damn shame we don’t get to see more of that partnership. And John O’Leary has a few nice scenes as Hobbs’s butler Clayton. Anna Dalva, though, as Godard the police boss, is so damn awkward. She doesn’t seem to be all that comfortable in front of the camera. How did she get this movie?

And then there’s the great Art Camacho as Jimmy Lee, who shows up briefly at the start of the movie. No matter what he does, the man is a legend. He really is.

I loved Guardian Angel. It’s an action movie that knows how to deliver the no nonsense goods, and it’s a fine vehicle for star Cynthia Rothrock to show why she’s a star. As I said, you just don’t mess with Cynthia fucking Rothrock.

See Guardian Angel. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: Multiple big ones.

Nudity?: Almost.

Doobage: A press printing money, a big gang meeting in the middle of a public park, a big hooha kung fu shootout brawl, sped up fighting, a wild flip, exploding car, a purse check, a swanky criminal party, charming misogyny, another kung fu brawl, neck snap hooey, an abandoned warehouse, a van drives through a wall, a big shootout, a slow motion crash through a giant window and into a boat, a dark interrogation room, a bar shootout, illegal guns everywhere, a briefcase full of counterfeit money, cocaine, an old west museum, a kung fu brawl in a museum, bullet to the head, police car stealing, a prison conversation, a public assault, RV hooey, a chopper escape, a giant bong, a house full of hot babes in bikinis, a gigantic henchman, window jumping, push broom hooey, pants on fire, a country club sniper attack, exploding food spread, a harrowing horse stunt, flirting, pill taking, attempted tea poisoning, pool cue hooey, a bar brawl, grass chewing, of screen murder, mild homophobia, a double cross, more misogyny, ski doo escape, an inexplicable speed boat chase, exploding boat, a condom joke, and a happy ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: PM Entertainment, Cynthia Rothrock, Art Camacho, Cynthia Rothrock wiping the floor with every douchebag that comes her way, Cynthia Rothrock going to a swanky criminal underworld party, a pallet jack, Marshall Teague, avant-garde sculpture, a woman in prison reading Time Magazine, Cynthia Rothrock living in a motorhome, misogyny, a guy watching an action movie on TV that has Gerald Okamura in it, Cynthia Rothrock wearing an LA Lakers hat, Cynthia Rothrock being mistaken for a plumber, a car phone, a male cop admitting to his female boss that he doesn’t want women working with him, breakfast, polo, a person cauterizing a leg wound with a metal pot of boiling water, multiple helicopters, an inexplicable speed boat chase, and Richard Norton as the fight choreographer.

Best lines: “I never thought I’d marry a cop,” “Jimmy? Long time, no see. Where’s Jake?,” “You dirty sonofabitch! Fuck you!,” “Give me one good reason not to kill you! You shot me, asshole!,” “Charles, where are you manners?,” “What are you looking at? Have you never seen a one hundred dollar bill before?,” “In France, we have a word for men like you, Jack. Oh, yeah, what’s that? American,” “Is that money real, Wade?,” “Haven’t had enough yet? Now you have,” “I did it because I wanted to,” “You father beat you because you killed your mother,” “You bitch! I’m gonna kill you, ya hear me?,” “Do you want protection or not?,” “Hey, who wants to play with me?,” “So you want protection from a psycho ex-girlfriend?,” “Jesus, lady, I’m just here to fix the toilet!,” “Let me get this straight, you want a woman to protect you?,” “Stop acting like a child,” “I must be suffering delusions,” “How did a woman as attractive as you become a cop?,” “Did you ever feel like your life was falling apart, piece by piece?,” “Come on, chocolate dick, you’re up next!,” “I can’t do good work with crayons!,” “Level with me, Hobbs, were you involved with this?,” “Are you an angel? I’m Christine McKay. I’m just trying to help,” “For the last time, where are the plates?,” “What are you going to do, McKay, kill another cop?,” “You hit like a girl, McKay! Thank you,” and “Nobody likes a dirty cop.”

Rating: 7.5/10.0

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Read the interview here!

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Strays: Okay, so this “people being attacked by cats” horror flick is a made-for-TV movie that aired on the USA network back in the mid-1990’s, when USA actually did that kind of thing. The uber hot Claudia Christian stars in it alongside “Poindexter, Arnold” hisself, Timothy Busfield. The fine folks at Scream Factory/Shout! Factory are behind this particular Blu-ray release, but it looks like there aren’t any special features on it, which is a shame. I’d love to know more about the world of made-for-TV movies, what it took to make something like Strays, and what it was like working with Christian and Busfield. At least the movie will look good.

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The Widow’s Point teaser trailer is here!

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Next Issue: Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight starring Don “The Dragon” Wilson!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Guardian Angel

Cynthia Rothrock– Christine McKay
Daniel McVicar– Hobbs
Lydie Denier– Nina
Marshall Teague– Nick
Ken McLeod– Ostendorf
John O’Leary– Clayton
Anna Dalva– Goddard
Robert Miano– David
Art Camacho– Jimmy Lee

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Richard W. Munchkin
Screenplay by Jacobsen Hart

Distributed byFirst Look Home Entertainment, Imperial Entertainment, Best Film and Video, Trinity Home Entertainment, and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Rated R for violence, language, and drug use.
Runtime– 97 minutes

Buy it here or here