I am a child of the 80s, and I carry no shame in this. I still love listening to the music of that time, however the fashion has made a resurgence and that just ain’t right. While I love Iphones, high speed internet connections, and instantly streaming movies there is something about the 80s that I miss. As a avid movie watcher I cut my teeth on some great films over the years and some movies have stood the test of time. Not all are high quality but they do possess moments from my childhood I don’t ever want to forget. Action movies were my drug of choice during the decade of electric colored clothing and Madonna. My youth was peppered with masterpieces like Predator, Die Hard, and Rambo. However, there was a sub-genre that really took off during the mid to late 80s, American martial arts! I for one loved it and we movie goers got some top notch popcorn cinema out it. Here is my ode to some of my favorite scenes. These aren’t in order of best to worst, just a collection. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
Blood Sport – Blind fighting
This one is easy. The guy takes on the last fight after being blinded mid way through, fucking cheating Bolo! (Seriously, how in the hell did the ref and the crowd not see that!!!) Anyway, this scene is stellar for many reasons: Van Damme’s screaming, blind tea serving flashback, and the great music when he gets into his groove at the end.
Karate Kid – Crane Kick
Poor little Daniel San. He gets bullied in school and his ass kicked by martial arts trained skeletons. This guy just can’t get away from bullying. He is the poster child for scrawny kids getting beaten up everywhere. However, he learns the how to fight back from a wise old Japanese veteran (80s cliche) and he ends up taking them all on in a safely sanctioned karate tournament (The All Valley). The Crane Kick is one of those movie moments that still gives me chills. Skinny kid beats the odds…fantastic!
Karate Kid 3 – Best Karate Still Inside
Lets stay in the Karate Kid universe a little while longer. While I loved all three movies growing up I felt that part 3 had just as good of a final fight as the first one. When Daniel is forced to battle Mike to defend his title we see a moment that makes the series still hold up today. Mr. Miagi’s speech to Daniel is what makes the scene…well that, and the most epic kata ever recorded. Mike had nothing on the skinny kid from New Jersey!
The Last Dragon – Who’s the Master?
If you have never seen this movie then shame on you! As a young black kid growing up I’m not sure I watched anything but this for months on end. Bruce Leroy was me, but with actual talent, physicality, and apparently martial art super powers. This movie was part martial arts/80s dance craze/blackspoiltation movie all rolled into one. Damn I just love this one for the absurdity of it all.
American Ninja 2 – Stay down!
What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said. Its got multiple color ninjas. I assumed this was based on skill level like belts. It has the actual words “American” and “Ninja” in the damn title. What else do you need! This was a favorite scene of mine due to the absolutely amazing OVER THE TOP acting by Steve James (R.I.P.)
Big Trouble in Little China – Wang versus Rain
There is no movie in the 80s or on this list that is more bizarre than Big Trouble in Little China. The entire movie played like a video game. There were level bosses, transforming villains, and excessive one-liners delivered with expert timing by Jack Burton (Kurt Russell). The movie is completely comedic but has some great martial arts elements. Even though its clearly ridiculous, I absolutely love the scene where Wang takes on Rain.
Above the Law – Akido Demonstration
Before all of his now crazy lifestyle took root, Steven Seagal was the pinnacle of the 80s/90s American martial artist/actor. This was his only movie in the 1980s but boy did it make an impression. It sparked off a very successful career of arm breaking silver screen goodness. Seagal is a masterful Akido martial artists and it really shows in this clip. There is no bluster here, just skill. Its a rarity to see people getting absolutely destroyed to such soft lighting and nice Japanese music…how sweet.