Alright, in my last post I said I would be writing up on two films watched back-to-back over two nights that inspired some true awesomeness. For this post, I’ll be ranting about Best of the Best, a 1989 martial arts flick about a group of American martial artists who compete against an elite Korean martial arts team in a karate tournament. Even though it looks like it’s a taekwondo tournament. Methinks America-town wasn’t familiar with TKD, so it’s karate. Even though it’s mistakenly referred to as TKD in some points. It also features a poor-man’s Eye of the Tiger as the rousing montage theme, which they’ve been kind enough to include in the trailer:
See, doesn’t it just reek of pure awesomeness????? 😀 😀 😀
Surprisingly, this one isn’t too bad for a martial arts flick caught in the late-80s, early-90s cross-over period. There was a real combination of awesome (The Perfect Weapon) and rubbish (too lazy to single one out :P) during this period, often with really stark contrasts, but to be fair, most of the rubbish is hilarious. The fighting choreography isn’t too shabby, with Phillip Rhee’s skills given plenty of room to shine. Their competing cast from Korea weren’t too shabby either.
I guess where the movie comes into its own is in having just the right amount of cheese – despite some occasionally woeful acting, it’s a reasonably enjoyable and senseless romp, possibly enhanced by the presence of super-chief James Earl Jones and the often-typecast Chris Penn (who you may remember from the Bacon-fest that is Footloose, which also happens to be epic and full of win).
There are plenty of 80s and early-90s martial arts flicks that are great popcorn fodder, and Best of the Best ticks every box – unnecessary acting, plenty of biffo, familiar but enjoyable characters, James Earl Jones, montage anthems, demonised view of East Asia, and of course a good helping of Asian mysticism. Leave the sensibilities at the door, otherwise you won’t be able to savour the awesome cheese of it all 🙂
For more info, the IMDB listing is here, and the Wikipedia entry is here. Thanks to magic of Wikipedia, I found out there were apparently three sequels; might have to have a cursory look, though I imagine the cheese factor might be not quite as balanced as the original in the sequels.