The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

24 Hours to Midnight (1985)

In our continuing mission to get all of Cynthia Rothrock's films on the site, we've been delving more into her earlier work, much of which was in Hong Kong, and much of which is now available to stream on YouTube; and that's how we ended up here with this film, though it actually wasn't made in Hong Kong, but rather made here in the US by Leo Fong. It also has the reputation of being Rothrock's first film role, which makes what it ended up being all that more fascinating. In addition to us, our friends at Cool Target have reviewed this, so you can go there to see what they thought. Now, without any further ado.

24 Hours to Midnight has Rothrock as a woman whose husband is murdered by drug kingpin White Powder Chan, played by Stack Pierce. She then metamorphosizes into a different woman, dons a ninja costume, and starts picking off his crew and everyone involved with him. At the same time, two cops are on the trail, trying to figure out who this mysterious figure who's doing their dirty work for them.Will they be able to stop "Rothrock's" murderous crime spree? Do they even want to?


You probably have a sense of where I'm going to go with this one. I'm watching it, and Rothrock is sobbing over the death of her husband, then we're in a hotel room, where this other woman has a ninja mask on, and after a moment I realize she's supposed to be Rothrock! We've heard of Fake Shemps, but this is another level. I tried to get a sense of what happened here, and best I could find out (via Wikipedia and a user review on IMDb by the person who said he cut the films together), Rothrock had a dispute with the producers and pulled out of the production. That footage was then shelved until they added in De'Ann Power, put her in a ninja suit, and had her be Rothrock's character. It's that kind of extreme gonzo approach to film making that we love here at the DTVC, but it was also exceedingly ludicrous that they would go to those lengths to do something with their old Rothrock footage. Where does that leave us then? I think as a quirk in Rothrock's career this is a fun deal. Definitely not something someone should choose if they're just starting with her films, but after you've seen 30 of them or so, this is fun for the novelty factor.

And we have done over 30 Rothrock films. This is number 36 to be exact. While according to IMDb she has some upcoming films in various stages of production, a lot of what we have left is her earlier stuff like this. Most of it was made in Hong Kong, and is really great; this on the other hand is really just here for the novelty of her having old footage paired with another woman in a ninja suit. I went to her YouTube to see if she had any backstory on this, and couldn't find anything--at least not in a title, she may have mentioned it in a video about something else. This certainly wouldn't make any Rothrock best of lists, but as we're trying to get all of her films on the site, something like this definitely has a place as a unique entry, in part because it's her first film, and in part because most of it isn't even her!


We've been exposed to the cinematic repurposings of Godfrey Ho, and I think that's where the mind goes first when we see something like this. Richard Harrison thought he was doing two ninja movies, and ended up in 20, right? The difference though is that Harrison was always Harrison, right? He may have been edited into other movies, but I don't think anyone else was pretending to be him in a ninja costume. Here we have this woman who definitely isn't Rothrock standing in as her, and we're supposed to accept that it's her when it so obviously isn't. It's a bait-and-switch the likes of which we've never really seen here before. We've seen where an actor is on the cover and then they're barely in the movie, but we've never seen that actor's character portrayed by someone else. Imagine Bruce Willis or Eric Roberts in a movie for five minutes of screen time, and then the rest of the film their part is played by someone in a costume that really isn't him? In a way, it's actually kind of fantastic to think about. Like we could make a new Batman movie with Bruce Willis as Bruce Wayne for like ten minutes of shooting that gets recycled throughout the film, and then have a stuntman like they did in Batman: Dead End portray the Caped Crusader. The idea is too amazing for words.

I looked, and I believe the only other Leo Fong film we've done was Fight to Win--which also starred Cynthia Rothrock, so it sounds like whatever issues Rothrock had were only with the producers and not Fong himself. I think what happens with him is his films are lower down the quality spectrum, so unless they have a name like Rothrock involved, I end up passing them over for Dolph or Seagal films. That in and of itself explains why they would go through the trouble to dig up old Rothrock footage and repurpose it in a movie she's no longer in so they can splash her picture on the cover and call it a "Rothrock film" (and, according to the reviewer on IMDb who told his story of having to get that footage, he said he hurt his back in the process and is still having issues with it). Without Rothrock, I'm probably not covering this, and other people probably aren't watching it.


Finally, we've been using this penultimate paragraph lately to spotlight supporting cast members who make these films what they are, and in that spirit, I felt it was necessary to give some shine to Stack Pierce, who plays White Powder Chan. He's a fantastic character actor who's done everything from B movies to big screen productions to network TV shows. Here he's a great baddie who, under normal circumstances, would be making the film a success, but in this case he's helping to paper over a massive hole in the wall in the form of a ninja woman who obviously isn't Cynthia Rothrock being passed off as her. Even a talent like Pierce can only do so much, and this probably was too much for him to overcome. Here's to you Stack Pierce, you were one of the great ones.

And with that, let's wrap this up. You can stream this for free on YouTube, and I feel like that's the best way to go. We've seen a variety of bait-and-switches here at the DTVC, but none so audacious or hilarious. This is why we celebrate DTV films, and why you come here to discuss them, for film making quirks like this that you can't find anywhere else in the industry.

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