The Martial Arts Kid is a new take on the rites of passage Karate Kid-esque tale of a young boy who who, after falling for the local bully’s girlfriend and becoming picked on by the bully, learns martial arts to defend himself and earn the respect of his family.
Jansen Panettiere (brother of Heroes actress Hayden Panettiere) plays Cleveland teenager Robbie Oakes. We first see Robbie getting into trouble with the cops while living with his grandmother. Robbie is then sent to Cocoa Beach, Florida to live with his estranged uncle Glen and aunt Cindy (played by martial arts icons Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock) where he struggles to fit in.
It is not long before Robbie finds trouble by making enemies with the local bully Bo Whitlaw (Matthew Ziff), who punches Robbie in the face for talking to his girlfriend Rina (Kathryn Newton). And at this point Robbie realises that he is going to have a difficult time getting through his last few months at high school. Robbie also forms a friendship with Rina and slowly falls for her while avoiding her bully boyfriend.
When a mugger approaches Robbie and Aunt Cindy, Cindy uses her skills to defend themselves and a surprised Robbie realises that his aunt and uncle are actually martial arts experts. Robbie then decides he wants to learn in order to protect himself.
Although the storyline may sound like another retelling of the “boy learns martial arts to defend himself”, there is actually a new angle to this as the cast is mostly made up of established and respected martial artists. We also get to see Robbie learning martial arts principles from his Uncle Glen such as the difference between a street-fighter and a martial artist and how not to be a lazy student. There is also highly talented supporting cast including the talented, younger martial artists at Glen’s dojo who get to perform.
The Martial Arts Kid is a refreshing, independent film which entertains and inspires. Complete martial arts training scenes featuring Don teaching classes and getting to share his own martial arts wisdom. For Rothrock fans we get to see Cynthia performing the Rothrock Sting proving that she can still kick and even belly dancing at one point. There is also fight-filled finale for the fans which features both Don and Cynthia taking part in the action.
The Martial Arts Kid is available from the online store: http://www.martialartskidmovie.com/shop