Why Everyone Should See The Martial Arts Kid:
I love The Martial Arts Kid film because the messages are powerful. The Martial Arts Kid is about honor and family values. The Martial Arts Kid is about doing the right thing and understanding that doing the wrong thing carries consequences. It is about forgiveness and supporting one another. It is about bullying and the need to stop it. The Martial Arts Kid is a springboard that gives people the opportunity to talk about things that really matter in life, especially parents with their kids.
The Martial Arts Kid is a coming of age story about a Cleveland teen, Robbie Oakes (Jansen Panettiere), who gets arrested in Ohio, and must move to Cocoa Beach, Florida to live with his Aunt Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock) and Uncle Glen (Don “The Dragon” Wilson). After arriving, Robbie meets a beautiful girl, Rina (Kathryn Newton), whose boyfriend, Bo (Matthew Ziff), is a bully who makes Robbie’s life as miserable as possible. Robbie finds himself learning not only martial arts from his Aunt and Uncle, but he learns about family, friendship, honor and discipline and making choices that will benefit him for the rest of his life.
Here are a few of the messages from The Martial Arts Kid worth discussing with your family and friends.
Uncle Glen shares with Robbie numerous times that families show their love and appreciation for one another by helping each other and working together.
Even though Robbie came to his Aunt and Uncle traumatized and damaged by past experiences, his family chooses to help him find a positive path and, through family support and martial arts, Robbie learns discipline, respect, honor and compassion for others.
Robbie’s first day at his new school reiterates that bullying is a common problem. This scene is a great opportunity for parents to help kids to understand that they can help stop bullying by their willingness to stand together for what is right, even when its against “popular people”. If students are willing to band together and show their disgust with bullying, peer pressure will help prevent bullying, but parents and teachers need to reiterate to kids that together they can play strategic roles in stopping bullying.
The Martial Arts Kid is a martial arts movie with depth. Robbie’s first experience at the dojo helps him discover what martial arts is really about, and this scene is filled with messages that parents can discuss with their kids. First, Uncle Glen explains the difference between a street fighter and a martial artist:
Street fighters fight to force their will on others, but martial artists fight for only two reasons, to defend themselves or to defend others.
When Robbie shows a desire to study martial arts, his Uncle Glen explains that he is not ready to become a student of the martial arts because either he is selfishness or laziness and either trait is dangerous in a martial artist. In this scene Robbie shows his emotions and he shares his weaknesses and his willingness to change and be part of something better. It is important that our kids learn that they can be honest, show weakness, and ask for help, and it is important that parents take the time to listen and to give their kids the opportunities to be trusted and grow. It is also important for men to know that it is okay to have feelings and to express those feelings. There is a lot of positive male bonding in The Martial Arts Kid.
When Robbie stumbles upon “the other dojo” his uncle’s points are reinforced. Coach Laurent Kaine (TJ Storm), gives his opinion about fighting. Kaine says that the most effective system of mutual combat must “assess, assert and dismantle. If you want to learn how to take down a man, and command him to see your will, then this dojo is the place for you.” He continues, “there is no HONOR in fighting, only winners and losers”. Kaine couldn’t be more wrong, and luckily Robbie has learned enough from his Uncle Glen to recognize that Kaine’s path is the wrong path.
Out of these scenes comes the knowledge that there is more to martial arts than fighting. A student of the martial arts learns discipline, the ability to stay focused, and the ability to withstand pain. Mastering martial arts techniques, with control, helps build confidence in other areas of a martial artist’s life.
This movie has numerous scenes where students of the martial arts are learning techniques, but there are other lessons taught in this practice. In one such scene, actor and martial artist Carl Van Meter plays an instructor who is training students in the use of the knee strike. As the instructor, he continually reiterates,
“We do not tolerate bullies here, and, as we discussed earlier, knee strikes and strikes like these are not used because someone steps on your shoe or spills soda on you. They are used when your life is threatened or you are in danger, are we clear on that! “Yes, Sir!”
Outside of the messages that help open opportunities for families and friends to discuss many relevant topics, there is other reasons I like The Martial Arts Kid as a film. There is great chemistry between Jansen Panettiere and Kathryn Newton, who do a fine job as actors in the film. Matthew Ziff plays a truly terrific bully, and Chuck Zito plays the wealthy, selfish, self centered father we see at the end of the film, and his introduction seems to foreshadow another film in a series. It is Zitos character who has influenced all the other antagonists in the film. Cynthia Rothrock and Don Wilson are always kick-ass, but I think this is one of Don Wilson’s best films because he shows a depth of character not often necessary in martial arts films, and Cynthia’s character is able to show more depth in those same ways. This film has some great music and there are some touching scenes between Robbie and Rina in The Martial Arts Kid. The beach scenes at sunset are beautiful and the some of the fight scenes make you ache, while others make you laugh. This includes the scenes with Aunt Cindy (Cynthia Rothrock), who knows how to fight the bad guys with such ease and grace.
The Martial Arts Kid is co-written and directed by Michael Baumgarten who wrote and produced Smitty, starring Academy Award winners Mira Sorvino and Louis Gossett, Jr., and Peter Fonda, and The Martial Arts Kid is being distributed by Traditionz Entertainment.
The Martial Arts Kid is produced by James Wilson, a former martial artist and kickboxing promoter, and by martial artist and stunt woman Cheryl Wheeler. Ewart Chin, also a martial artist, is an Associate Producer on the film. Much of the film’s cast is made up of real martial artists, people who believe in the film’s messages and who desire to influence today’s youth and to help open lines of communication that will lead to positive solutions to the problems we all face. It is also these actors desire to help make films showing the benefits of studying martial arts: discipline, respect and honor and compassion for others. The anti-bullying message is a strong one and a message we must send over and over again. It is not easy to stand up to bullying, but with better communication and more positive films like The Martial Arts Kid, it will become easier.
The Martial Arts Kid is a fun movie to watch, but more than that, it is a great movie to help open discussions.
The Martial Arts Kid will had it’s World Premiere at The Burbank International Film Festival on September 12, 2015 and began showing in theaters on September 18, 2015 in both New York and in Los Angeles. It will spread to other theaters throughout the United States including Chicago, Texas, Florida, Washington, DC and more.
Take the time to see The Martial Arts Kid and to communicate with family and friends about the messages it shares.
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