Thu 13 Dec 2012
Back in our younger days, my younger brother and I were quite the aficionados for low-budget martial arts movies. We’re not talking Jackie Chan movies here, those movies are grade-A top quality compared to some of the stuff we regularly watched.
For example, I’ve seen pretty much everything by JKVD made before 2000, almost everything that Cynthia Rothrock has been in, all 3 of the Best of the Best movies (the first is the best of the Best of the Best, though #2 is more entertaining imho), all of the Master Ninja series before I had even heard of MST3K (same goes for Quest of the Delta Knights!), tons of Godfrey Ho Hong Kong drek that was made by editing together unfinished parts of movies (Ninja Death Squad being my favorite example. I could only find that one scene online, but it’s a very representative example), and everything that Billy Blanks did long before he did Tae Bo (which seems to be pretty much dead now).
And speaking of Billy Blanks, probably my favorite fight scene from a martial arts movie is from one of his movies, Showdown from 1993. It’s pretty much a remake of Karate Kid, with Billy in the Mr. Miyagi role and more-or-less unknown Kenn Scott in the Daniel role (seriously, the only mainstream thing he’s done was the suit actor for Raphael in the old TMNT movies).
The plot’s pretty much the same as Karate Kid: new kid at school, get’s bullied by martial artists from your local Kobra Kai™, retired martial artist becomes his teacher, and at the end he wins the tournament and gets the girl.
There are a couple of twists: instead of a regular martial arts tournament it’s actually an illegal underground fighting ring, and the Kreese character has a history with Billy’s character.
A couple of scenes stand out to me: after Billy (as the school’s erstwhile janitor) agrees to train our hero, he has him do a bunch of menial tasks for him, exactly like in Karate Kid. Take it up at 44:40 and watch this scene:
I love how they lampshade the fact that they’re totally ripping off Karate Kid.
The other scene I wanted to show is also this post title, my favorite fight scene in just about any movie. This is the first confrontation between the bully and our hero after he has had a bit of training (via an obligatory training montage) from Billy Blanks:
This is the perfect fight in my opinion: you kick him in the balls, then you run away.
You can watch the entire movie here if you like, but unless you have my peculiar taste in movies you probably wouldn’t enjoy it.
Other noteworthy points in this movie is that the romantic interest is played by Christine Taylor two years before she became famous after playing Marcia in the Brady Bunch movie. Also our hero’s friend at school was played by John Mallory, who I will always think of as Gary from the Weird Science TV show.
John Mallory was also in the Double Dragon movie at about the same time. I find it interesting that between those two movies and Wierd Science that he played essentially the exact same character. According to his IMDB page he’s been working consistently in Hollywood ever since, but to me he’ll always be Gary from Weird Science.
Speaking of Double Dragon, that’s another movie I could blog about. It’s like a perfect convergence of the 90’s: bad videogame adaptation, low-budget martial arts mainstay Mark Dacascos (before Crow: the TV series and long before he slummed down to Iron Chef), Robert Patrick (aka T-1000) as the big evil bad guy, and even Alyssa Milano as the love interest (this was her first non-TV movie after her gravy train ended when Who’s The Boss went off the air). Also a cameo by Vanna White! And it’s on youtube too!