In 1984, a seminal film in my life (and many others of my generation) was released. It was a little flick about an underdog wiener kid from New Jersey with a major chip on his shoulder who wanted to prove the the world that he could kick his own height. So with help from Arnold from Happy Days, the wiener kid finds his way to Karate glory – which means he got some plastic trophy from the local Prize Emporium Dealership.
But, for us kids, Karate Kid wasn’t about the karate, per se. We didn’t all want to grow up and be ninjas (although that would explain the brief success of Michael Dudikoff), we just wanted to be able to kick a douchebag in the face. That and we figured if Ralph Macchio could score Elisabeth Shue, heck, surely we could.
It was a “Yes, we can!” for the children reared on He-Man and Kool-Aid.
Needless to say, the film was a big smash in the “kids with douchebags on their shit lists” demographic, and Hollywood signed off on the new wave of “Mad-Libs” screenwriting.
So, if you loved The Karate Kid parts one through three (sans Hillary Swank, thank you), you’re in for a treat.
The Wiener: Cru Jones (Bill Allen).
The Douche: Bart Taylor (Bart Conner)
The Babe: Christian Hollings (Lori Loughlin)
This is my favorite of the Karate Kid knock-offs – and it’s a cult favorite around the globe. Talia Shire (who you may remember from the movie Karate Kid itself knocked off, Rocky) plays Cru’s mom who doesn’t like her son riding that gosh-darned BMX bicycle around, but Cru warms her heart to his natural backflipping talents (and he doesn’t even have to kick her in the face), and wins all in the end, including of course, Lori Loughlin (pre-Full House).
NOTE: Lori apparently was only available for a few days of shooting, as her bicycle riding was played mostly by a guy with a mustache.
The Wiener: Corey Webster (Josh Brolin)
The Douche: Tommy Hook (Robert Rusler)
The Babe: Chrissy (Pamela Gidley)
In a throng of skateboarding movies, including “the can’t mention skateboard movies without mentioning” Gleaming the Cube, this one stands out for being pretty non-skateboardy. At least, what most people probably think of skateboarding. I can’t remember a time when the peak of skateboarding competition rested solely on going down a hill really fast and not doing any tricks, at ALL. Seems more like luge to me, but hey, I’m no expert. On a different note, can anyone think of a better douche in 80s movies than Robert Russler (Weird Science)? If so, please leave a comment.
The Wiener: Rick Kane (Matt Adler)
The Douche: The Deadly Waves! (and, real-life surfers like Laird Hamilton)
The Babe: Kiani (Nia Peeples)
This movie should be on everyone’s list, not because the wiener is the same wiener Lewis from Teen Wolf, but because Nia Peeples is in it. And that can never be a bad thing. Rick Kane goes to Hawaii and ends up kicking all the waves’ in the face. He lived to tell the tale, thanks to the wise tutelage of his local mentor Chandler – wait, he’s white?! Aw crap.
The Wiener: Monroe Clark (C. Thomas Howell)
The Douche: Rollo Vincent (Randy Stoklos)
The Babe: Samantha (Courtney Thorne-Smith)
This is the ultimate underdog movie; and really could be an allegory for Paula Abdul’s singing career (she’s pretty prominent on the soundtrack). Monroe goes to L.A. for the summer, expecting to jump-start his law career only to find out that he knows nothing about beach volleyball – but anyone can succeed in a few short weeks (and a good training montage). So, only naturally, Monroe becomes one of the best beach volleyball players ever, having never played before in his life. And, if that’s not enough to suck you into this deep storyline, Terry Kiser (who is such a good actor that they only cast him in movies where he plays a dead guy (Weekend at Bernie’s)) plays Monroe’s uncle. Consider that icing on the cake!
The Wiener: Janey Glenn (Sarah Jessica Parker)
The Douche: Natalie Sands (Holly Gagnier)
The Babe: Jeff Malene (Lee Montgomery)
Sarah Jess, as I like to call her, plays a young teenage girl bound by her drill sergeant father and her Catholic education. So, of course, she wants to rebel, and nothing says rebel like pink stretch pants and a belly shirt while twirling to music! (God will NOT contain her!) So she finds a partner in Jeff, who’s doing his best to maintain his sexuality while wearing pink stretch pants and a belly shirt and twirling to music. Then there’s the evil Natalie, the rich bitch, who because of her father’s wealth is a good dancer (wait! what?). Someone give her credit too! She twirls with the best of them. Oh, and Helen Hunt is in there somewhere.
The Wiener: Jason Stillwell (Kurt McKinney)
The Douche: Ivan the Russian (Jean-Claude van Damme)
The Babe: Kelly Reilly (Kathie Sileno)
Guys, let’s get one thing straight, this is NOT Karate Kid. It’s NOT. I can prove it, they have DIFFERENT titles! So let’s get this whole lawsuit-in-waiting thing out of the way. This is about a different wiener kid who moves to a new town, where he doesn’t get along with the local chapter of martial arts douches, trains on his own with the help of an asian man, and wins the day, and the girl in the end. It’s obvious. Why? They are played by different actors. Also, the asian mentor in No Retreat is the ghost of Bruce Lee. Different! And, this movie proved, at the time, that we better get a handle on the “Red Menace” because they are starting to steal Belgians and train them in martial arts (that’s an undefeatable army, my friends). This also launche JCVD‘s career, starting it’s OWN Hollywood franchise of mad-lib movies – “Jean-Claude fights a ________ in a _________ during _________, but try to limit him having lines.”
That was a popular memo going around Hollywood at the time – true story!
What movies do you guys remember? Which ones affected you so deeply that you went all Ralph Macchio on a _______? Did you score Elisabeth Shue? Really?! SPILL IT!
– ROSS CONKEY
Ross Conkey is a writer living in Chicago. He wants to be Keith David.