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The Little Dragons (1979)

PG | | Action, Comedy | 18 July 1980 (USA)
A grandfather takes his two young grandsons on a camping trip for their karate tournament, and become involved in a kidnapping by a poor country family that lives in the woods.


Curtis Hanson

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Lane ... J.J.
Ann Sothern ... Angel
Chris Petersen Chris Petersen ... Zack
Pat Petersen Pat Petersen ... Woody
Sally Boyden ... Carol
Rick Lenz ... Dick Forbinger
Sharon Clark Sharon Clark ... Ruth Forbinger (as Sharon Weber)
Joe Spinell ... Yancey
John Davis Chandler ... Carl (as John Chandler)
Clifford A. Pellow Clifford A. Pellow ... Sheriff
Stephen Young ... Lunsford
Pat E. Johnson ... Karate Instructor (as Pat Johnson)
Bong Soo Han Bong Soo Han ... Karate Master (as Master Bong Soo Han)
Donnie Williams Donnie Williams ... Motorcycle Leader
Tony Bill ... Niles


A grandfather takes his two young grandsons on a camping trip for their karate tournament, and become involved in a kidnapping by a poor country family that lives in the woods.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Sheriff couldn't...the F.B.I. couldn't...but the 'Little Dragons' CAN! See more »


Action | Comedy


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 July 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Karate Kids USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Eastwind See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The piece of wood that Carl has is precut to break where Woody kicks it. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Family Home Entertainment VHS that was released in the 80s, mainly as a children's title, has all of the swearing deleted. See more »


Edited into Tela Class: Em Busca de um Show (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

Calling Dr. Howard, Dr Fine, Dr. Howard, Report to Post Production.
22 August 2005 | by yonhopeSee all my reviews

Hi, Everyone, Even The Three Stooges would not be able to save this. Any DVD of this movie should be in the Fertilizer Section of Home Depot.

A comedy movie needs a premise that is somewhat humorous. The basic plot here is the bad guys kidnap and try to kill two little kids. The bad guys never are funny like Herbert Lom as Dreyfus in The Pink Panther series. These are two hillbilly boys and their mom who are quite willing to do away with the children.

Every comedy moment in this film falls flat. The director seems to think a child swearing is very funny. That is done repeatedly in this senseless misadventure. How about putting a dog in a burlap bag? That should really make people laugh. Nope. The dumb sheriff always works, right? No, not here. The dumb sheriff's son who tries to be Barney Fife? He comes across more like a dumb sheriff's dumb irritating son.

Toilet humor. There is an abundance of toilet humor. It never gets a laugh. Not one performance stands out as being something that will help a career. Chris Peterson apparently never made another movie after this one. He was one of the boy Karate stars. He was the older one who was supposed to be the love interest of the girl kidnap victim in this movie.

The girl who is kidnapped is the daughter of two really messed up parents in this story. The movie tries to portray the family as a loving unit when that is convenient but they are shown to be a brainless trio in each of their appearances on screen. The parents are totally irresponsible and never charming or funny.

Who do we blame? There is real talent here. Charles Lane (J.J.), was in Music Man and It's a Wonderful Life and Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. John Davis Chandler (the smart hillbilly brother), was in Mad Dog Coll. Ann Sothern (hillbilly mom) was in many movies and she had two good TV series. Tony Bill who produced this and played a small part was the Producer of Sting with Paul Newman. Tony Bill Directed My Bodyguard with Chris Makepeace. Tony Bill Produced Going in Style with George Burns and Art Carney. Tony Bill as a young man appeared in the movie Come Blow Your Horn with Frank Sinatra and more than held his own. He also was in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

I say we blame Tony Bill. Tony, you have to look at the dailies and say, "Wow. This really sucks! You're all fired! Let's start over." That was the only move that would have saved the stomach contents of anyone who watched this after eating.

I cannot recommend this even for a Bad Movie Night. It is not up to the level of a good bad movie. If they ever have an award for Most Flushable Movie, this will be an oddsmaker's favorite.

Instead of this, watch The Pink Panther Strikes Again or Dr. Strangelove with Peter Sellers and see how a comedy about grown ups being killed can be funny. Threatening kids does not work as a comedy or drama.

If you like the song Hokey Pokey or My Darlin' Clementine, they are sung here. They actually are done well. The little girl singer should have been cast in a musical instead of this.

Tom Willett

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