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Cynthia Rothrock (traditional Chinese: ???), born 8 March 1957, is an American actress specializing in Martial arts films. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and was brought up in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
She is five-time (and undefeated) World Karate Champion in forms and weapons between 1981 and 1985. These categories are not combat-oriented, being displays of fluidity of movement rather than fighting, and are therefore not segregated into male and female categories but fully open to both sexes.
She holds five Black belts in various Far Eastern martial disciplines, including Tang Soo Do (also “tangsudo”, Korean), Tae Kwon Do (Korean), Eagle Claw (Chinese), Wu Shu (contemporary Chinese), and Northern Shaolin (classical Chinese). She also works as a martial arts instructor and her favorite weapons are the hook swords. ???
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 Golden Harvest signed a contract with her. 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. She may be the first Caucasian actress that ever had a lead role in a Chinese film as a heroine. At the time, the typical role for Caucasians was cast as either as a villain 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 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.
Rothrock also appeared as Bertha Jo in the 1997 television film The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion. She was an inspiration for the video game characters Sonya Blade of Mortal Kombat and lent her voice on the animated series Eek the Cat.