movie review/analysis: Sidekicks – 1992 -directed by Aaron Norris

Posted: February 1, 2013 in Martial Arts, The Corner of Chuck!
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Directed in 1992 by Aaron Norris (Yes, Chuck’s very own brother), ‘Sidekicks’ presents the viewer with very little that hasn’t been seen numerous times before. Although that is not to say the film is bad, I’m just stating that it features nothing ‘new’. The plot is as follows;

We have Barry played by Jonathon Brandis who is the school loner. His only friend is a girl that he fancies (although we will later find out that she simply pities him). He has asthma, is unfit and is fairly unlikeable (what an ‘awesome’ hero I here you say sarcastically). Even with these ‘qualities’ all he wants in life is to be the sidekick (hence the title) of the one and only Chuck Norris. This fantasy has taken over Barry’s life and he constantly finds himself being told off for daydreaming about going on adventures with the bearded wonder. The dreams consist of being a ninja, being a soldier, being a detective etc etc. (it’s pretty much a way of filming numerous action scenes and slotting them into the film.)

Of course through the course of the film, we need some kind of tension or some form of drama. This comes into effect with the advent of the school bully who happens to go to the karate class that Barry wants to go to (*cough* Karate Kid). The dojo sensei, a gentleman named Kelly Stone, is a mean spirited man who will settle for nothing less than perfection (*cough* Karate Kid). Mr Stone has a personal hatred towards our good friend Chuck and as such has a personal hatred to all who like him. This is not good news for Barry. He leaves, head in hands looking for help. His help comes in the form of Mr Lee (played by the talented Mako), who happens to be an expert in Karate and also the father of Barry’s teacher/ early love interest Noreen Chan.

Mr Lee decides he’s going to tell Kelly Stone to leave Barry alone until the big karate tournament that is coming up (*cough* Karate Kid). Mr Stone agrees and so begins montage after montage of Barry training (*cough* Karate Kid)  He then winds up at the tournament which happens to be a team tournament (oh dear I hear you say. What will Barry do?) Don’t worry, Mr Lee and Noreen Chan decide to be in his team as they just feel the need to compete (they have no other reason to take part). All is going well until they find out that the teams are made up of 4 people. They have no 4th! What will they do? Well it’s no surprise that Chuck Norris stands in as their 4th member after talking to Noreen. ( I must say that Noreen literally barges her way into conversation and must woe him with her womanly charms). Chuck tells Barry that they will finally be ‘sidekicks’, which almost makes Barry die from shock (way to go Chuck!) They all partake in their various events which they all win in (well kinda) and Chuck decides he must fight Kelly Stone (*Cough* Opening of Karate Kid 2) Of course he wins and everything works out fine.

The film culminates in one of the most peculiar scenes in the whole film. Chuck wishes Barry the best and thanks him for the continued support of watching his films. (Barry clearly looks too young to be watching most of chuck’s films though) Barry then lays down his prized possession (a magazine with Chuck on the cover) and walks away, not looking back. You think to yourself that the film is going to end with a shot of him walking away with the credits rolling over the top, but no. instead we get a special scene of a disabled person In a wheelchair finding the magazine and having the same look that Barry used to have when looking at it. My first thought was ‘Please let there be a sequel where this kid kick’s all kind of ass from his wheelchair’ (there isn’t unfortunately). I found it just amusing and I thought that it added nothing to the film other than making a sequel possible.

If all of the above sounds familiar, it is because it is. It is highly reminiscent of films such as Karate Kid, No retreat, no surrender , Drunken master and even Rocky 3 (I say rocky 3 as that was the first film where the montage’s  really came into their own.) But I say again that it is not a bad thing, you could say that all films copy other films (although this is a little more blatant in this film).

Let’s get the bad things out of the way first (I’m sorry to say that the film does have a few);

  • The dream action scenes are not that well filmed. They are all very childish and are full of silly comedy moments.

–          I find this a shame as one of the things that defines a good Chuck Norris film is how many people he roundhouse kicks to death. There is lots of unbelievable flipping and jumping with silly sound effects. This all unfortunately culminates in unfulfilling action (well at least for me). You could say that they don’t need to be believable as they are in Barry’s mind. That doesn’t matter. Chuck should do what Chuck does best, and that is to invoke the fear of his power to all that watch him, be them kids, adults or animals.

  • Some of the acting is not the best (although I have seen far far worse)

–          I would say though that it may not be the actor’s fault, It may stem from a quite poorly written script by Aaron Norris (an actor can only do so much when he has a poor script to work from), although the script may have been fine and the actor’s may have just screwed up some masterful writing (although this is probably untrue)

  • The film is slightly too long, especially the montage sequence.

–          I like montage sequences but there is only a certain amount of times you can watch a boy run around an arena being chased by a crazy Asian man on a bicycle (I make that sound more amusing than it actually is.)

To be fair those points are probably the only real negative points of the film.

The film may have a stupid plot, corny acting and poor scripting, but it does have one the one thing that can counter almost any negative comments one may have about the film. CHUCK! The bearded one is as good as ever and although it may not be as bloodthirsty or violent as the majority of his work, he plays it like he always would, like Chuck. (I daren’t say a bad word about him as I fear he may seek me out and put his fist through my chest. Well at least not in this film, just wait till we get to ‘Octagon’!)

The dream sequences offer a wide range of locales for the action and on the whole they aren’t bad. We get ninjas, undercover cops, soldiers etc … it’s an excuse to expand the film from the normal street fights that you see in the usual films of this sort. That is not to say that in doing so the film is successful as I believe that without them the film may have been a far stronger picture (not Oscar worthy, or even amazing. Just better.)

The final tournament is interesting in the fact that it is not simply a fight, it is a contest featuring everything from weapon forms to block smashing. In a way this is disappointing as I really would have loved to see Barry and Chuck kick all kinds of ass against everyone, but alas no. What we do get is an impressive variety of events and a pretty good (although pretty boring) fight between Chuck and Kelly.

There are so many more things that I could write about such as Barry’s father’s lust for Noreen Chan (or Barry’s love for her at the start), the over the top acting for all of the villains in the film or even the complete lack of roundhouse kicks for the majority of the picture. But I shall round it all up here.

Verdict:

In my view what Aaron Norris has created is mash of’ Karate Kid’ and ‘No retreat, No Surrender’ with a little bit more humour thrown in. We have the loner in school, the Mr Miyagi clone, the single parent, the love interest, the evil Karate coach and the imaginary (up until the end) teacher. It ticks all of the boxes and as such it kinda works as well as you could hope. It is nowhere near as good as Karate Kid or even the more recent remake starring Jackie Chan in fact, but it is a damn sight better than a lot of the films like this that were being churned out in the early 90’s. All in all, If you like films like this or if you love Chuck Norris (and let’s face it, who doesn’t) you really should find a copy and check it out. Even by Chuck’s standards it’s a fun flick that doesn’t try and confuse you with a complicated plot or deep dialogue, it’s just what it is. A fun film in which one teenage boy succeeds in conquering his own disabilities (asthma, being a loner, having daydreams of Chuck Norris) and finally gets to meet his hero.

All in all I give the film a solid ;

7 out of 10

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