Magic Kid

(Ninja Dragon, Joseph Merhi, USA, 1993)


Magic Kid is a spirited American entry in the genre of martial arts action-comedy – unfamiliar turf for American cinema in this period.

It is a far softer version of the kind of spectacle that Jackie Chan provides so well for Hong Kong's popular cinema: elaborate fight and chase sequences played bloodlessly for innocent merriment, plus a flood of playful references to other action movies, with their beloved stars and clichés.

Here, Ted Jan Roberts (described on the video cover as a "Twelve-year-old black belt martial arts sensation") plays a kid who travels to California with his sister (Shonda Whipple) in the hope of meeting his hero, Don "The Dragon" Wilson (Out for Blood, 1993).

They fall in with their uncle (Stephen Furst), a flaky entrepreneur who courts the wrath of the Mob – a bunch of crooks who fumble and stumble the way crooks used to do in Jerry Lewis movies of the '60s.

Eventually The Dragon himself exits a nearby L.A. soundstage and enters the boys-only plot for a splendidly choreographed finale in a crowded nightclub.

MORE Merhi: Direct Hit, To Be the Best

© Adrian Martin November 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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