Only the Strong

release year: 1993
genre: martial arts/drama
viewing setting: home laserdisc, 11/1/97
what I expected: martial arts cheese
what I got: martial arts cheese with a message

synopsis: At a tough inner-city high school, all is chaos - until a former student-turned-Green-Beret returns and uses his martial arts skills to try and make a difference.

impressions: This is the world's best (and probably only) Capoeira movie. Capoeira is a fighting style that mixes dance-like moves, backflips, somersaults, handstands, and kicks. It's fun to watch, and its practicioners are superb athletes, but I have my doubts about its effectiveness against skilled martial artists of other types. Anyway...this movie had a good message (kids can take control of their own lives, no matter how bad, and turn them around) but a cheesy execution. None of the bad guys ever even tried to use guns. The bad kids who attend Luis' Capoeira class suddenly become buddy-buddy. The main bad guy and all his goons mysteriously know all about Capoeira. Well, the list goes on. I'd recommend this one for a one-time viewing solely to witness the magic of Capoeira, but after that thrill is gone, it's time to move on to other martial arts flicks.

acting: Decent to good, though a lot of the people in this film are stereotypical punks.

final word: Entertaining for its fighting and dance sequences, but not a movie to watch for a tight, sensible plot.

rating: C

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