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The Martial Arts Kid (2015)

Not Rated | | Action, Family | 18 September 2015 (USA)
When a troubled teen from Cleveland experiences bullying in Cocoa Beach, he soon learns Martial Arts to gain confidence and self-defense skills.


Michael Baumgarten


Michael Baumgarten (screenplay), Adam W. Marsh (screenplay)
3 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Wilson ... Glen (as Don 'The Dragon' Wilson)
Cynthia Rothrock ... Cindy
Jansen Panettiere ... Robbie
Kathryn Newton ... Rina
Matthew Ziff ... Bo
T.J. Storm ... Coach Laurent Kaine
Chuck Zito ... Frank
Brandon Tyler Russell ... Lenny
Kayley Stallings ... Katie
Lorraine Ziff ... Peggy
Natasha Blasick ... Nika
Robert Peters ... Horace
Billy Smith ... Derek
Victoria Vodar Victoria Vodar ... Miss Criss
Danny Rawley ... Kevin


Robbie Oakes is a delinquent who has acted out after the death of his mother. Tired of his antics, his grandmother sends Robbie to Cocoa Beach, Florida to live with his Aunt Cindy and Uncle Glen. On his first night, Robbie meets Rina at a local convenience store, but is bullied by Rina's boyfriend Bo. The next day after school, Robbie meets Cindy at her beach-side restaurant, where they are confronted by another bully. Cindy reveals her martial arts skills and Robbie, deciding to turn his life around, turns to Glen to teach him martial arts to begin that change and learn to defend himself. As Robbie's attitude and fore manner truly changes, he still has Bo to contend with, especially after Rina decides to date Robbie. Things come ahead when Bo's martial arts teacher, Kaine, is revealed to be an old friend of Glen's, but their difference in what martial arts is about makes them enemies. When Rina is bullied by Bo, Robbie has had enough and decides to do something once and for all. Written by Albert Valentin

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Plot Keywords:

martial arts | See All (1) »


Action | Family


Not Rated

Did You Know?


Michael Baumgarten, Cheryl Marie Wheeler, James Wilson won The Rob Kurrus Humanitarian Award at The Melbourne Independent Film Festival in 2015. See more »


Glen: [sees Robbie washing his car] Good morning.
Robbie: Morning.
Glen: Did Aunt Cindy ask you to do this?
Robbie: No.
Glen: You know, you can wash on, wash off all you want. But you're not driving any of our cars.
Robbie: I know. No wax, right?
See more »


Breaking Away
Written by Martin Blasick
Produced by Martin Blasick
Performed by Martin Blasick
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User Reviews

"Obviously I have something to learn about old-school traditions"
15 November 2016 | by The_Phantom_ProjectionistSee all my reviews

Family-friendly martial arts films seem to be making a slow comeback, THE MARTIAL ARTS KID among them. This isn't an action movie, but a coming-of-age drama with a martial arts backdrop. Like most intentionally "wholesome" movies, it provides plenty of opportunities for eye-rolling , but it's also charming in key moments and actually features some good fight scenes.

The story: A troubled teen (Jansen Panettiere) is sent to live with relatives in Florida, where the guidance and tutelage of his martial arts-practicing uncle (Don Wilson) and aunt (Cynthia Rothrock) help him overcome bullying and gain the confidence to turn his life around.

The film focuses on drama and character development, in which regard it's a mixed bag. Though it addresses real-world problems, this is not a very realistic movie: to keep the relationships between the good guys as healthy as possible, the producers avoid nuance and grit to the point that they make THE KARATE KID seem like a hardcore drama. Nevertheless, this is part of the movie's charm, and it's kind of refreshing to see characters embrace goodness with such gusto. Wilson and Rothrock are clearly into their mentor roles, and while some of Panettiere's scenes can be pretty cringe-worthy, most of his shortcomings are the fault of the script and he remains a likable hero.

The martial arts are afforded a lot of reverence, with the filmmakers going out of their way to present a realistic picture of the hero's development. It gets a little preachy, and MMA fans may not appreciate the portrayal of "practical" fighting as a means of bullying, but I think the movie gets its point across. (It could have managed this even without the endless parade of cameos from real-life practitioners, but oh well.) Also, while the seven full-length fight scenes aren't the centerpiece of the picture, their quality exceeded my expectations. Panettiere's a good little fighter with potential, but I was more appreciative of the comebacks staged by his costars. Rothrock has a pretty good match with taekwondo champ Inga Van Ardenn, while Wilson has arguably the best fight of his career against T.J. Storm. They're not the best fights you'll see this year, but definitely not the worst.

I'm not sure whether Wilson & Co. can get through their remaining careers doing crowd-funded family flicks, but at least in this case, the picture was worth it. While not timeless, it's a fun movie that may encourage an interest in martial arts among younger viewers. Treat it as a rental, but don't be terribly surprised if this inspires a purchase.

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Release Date:

18 September 2015 (USA) See more »

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The Martial Arts Kid See more »

Filming Locations:

Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA See more »

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