Best of the Best

Best of the Best

Infobox Film
name = Best of the Best
caption = DVD Cover Photo
director = Robert Radler
producer = Phillip Rhee
Peter Strauss
eproducer = Frank Giustra
Michael Holzman
aproducer = Deborah Scott
writer = Paul Levine
starring = Eric Roberts
James Earl Jones
music = Paul Gilman
cinematography = Douglas Ryan
editing = William Hoy
distributor = 20th Century Fox
released = November 10 1989
runtime = 97 min.
country = USA
awards =
language = English
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by = "Best of the Best 2"

"Best of the Best" is a 1989 martial arts film. The plot revolves around a team of Americans facing a team of Koreans in a taekwondo tournament. Several sub plots pop up this story - moral conflicts, the power of the human spirit triumphing over adversity are some themes. The movie stars Eric Roberts and James Earl Jones. The film was followed by three sequels released in 1993, and .

In his book "Iceman: My Fighting Life", UFC champion Chuck Lidell cites "Best of the Best" as his personal favorite martial arts film.


* "A team is not a team if you don't give a damn about each other."
* "There's a kind of inner strength you never know you have...until it's ALL you have."


Alexander Grady, a widower and father of a five-year-old son, Walter, is chosen to represent the United States of America in an international taekwondo tournament against Team Korea. Also chosen for the team is Tommy Lee, a man seeking revenge against a member of Team Korea for the death of his brother during a previous tournament. The rest of Team USA consists of Travis Brickley, an extremely brash fighter with a short fuse; Virgil Keller, a devout Buddhist; and Sonny Grasso, a streetwise fighter from Detroit.

Coached by Frank Couzo and Catherine Wade, the team prepares to meet an unstoppable group of true martial arts experts. Their chances of winning are virtually non-existent, as the Koreans train all year long and are known as the best the sport has to offer. Along their journey, the Americans have to deal with their personal conflicts and tragedies, before they become a team.

Martial Arts Content

Although the martial art used in the film is referred to as karate, the format of the tournaments and the techniques used are clearly World Taekwondo Federation style taekwondo. There are several give-aways that the style used is taekwondo. The Koreans are not a world dominating force in karate as they are in taekwondo - Japan and Europe tend to dominate karate. The use of hogu (body protectors) is characteristic of WTF taekwondo, although the actual competition gear is quite different and gloves are not worn in that style. The kick-dominated style of the tournaments shown in the movie are characteristic of WTF taekwondo where punching is rarely rewarded. In the outside scenes in Korea, signs can be seen pointing to the "taekwondo" facilities.

Certain techniques displayed in the movie fights, such as grappling, throws, and punches to the face, and kicks to the legs, are illegal in WTF taekwondo sparring. Those techniques are considered too dangerous to be applied in actual competition and are reserved for self-defense training in the dojang (gym). The ITF - International Taekwon-do Federation allows kicks and punches to areas of the body above the belt (hip) excluding the back, and permits punches to the face, although no grappling or throws are allowed. The fight choreography of Best of the Best clearly shows techniques that were extracted from Hapkido.

The makers of the film chose to use the term "karate" as it is a shorter and more familiar word to Westerners (also used as a means to express any martial arts competition that involves "Unarmed" combat by many world federations), but there are many differences between karate (which is a Japanese martial art) and taekwondo (which is Korean).


* Alexander Grady - Eric Roberts
* Coach Frank Couzo - James Earl Jones
* Kathryn Wade - Sally Kirkland
* Tommy Lee - Phillip Rhee
* Travis Brickley - Christopher Penn
* Virgil Keller - John Dye
* Sonny Grasso - David Agresta
* Coach Don Peterson - Tom Everett
* Mrs. Grady - Louise Fletcher
* Mr. Jennings - John P. Ryan
* Walter Grady - Edan Gross
* Korean Coach - Hee Il Cho
* Dae Han Park - Simon Rhee
* Sae Jin Kwon - James Lew
* Yung Kim - Ken Nagayama
* Broadcaster - Ahmad Rashad


External links

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