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Spotlight Project
Ryan As EricIN UNDERDOG KIDS
Inner-city kids take on the undefeated Beverly Hills Junior National Karate Team, with the help of an ex-MMA master.
Release Date: June 26th, 2015 (US)
Release Date: December 2nd, 2015 (Japan)
Running Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Genre: Family, Action, Comedy
Character: Eric Barret
Directed By: Phillip Rhee
Screenplay By: Phillip Rhee
Produced By: Phillip Rhee, Doug Magallon & Fabienne Wenn
Production Company: Itsy Bitsy Film
Distributed By: Anchor Bay Entertainment (US) & Curiouscope (Japan)

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Film Synopsis

At the Mid-County Community Center, a coach quits teaching a ragtag team martial arts. Community Center leader Charlie is looking for a new coach when former mixed martial arts champion Jimmy Lee arrives, a protege of Charlie’s whose career ended three years earlier after an accident. Reluctantly he agrees to teach the group.

When Jimmy and the kids go to their first competition, Jimmy meets childhood rival Ted Barret, who is the coach of the three-time national karate champions, the Beverly Hills Scorpions. Ted has always held a grudge against Jimmy and lets his current fame influence others, despite the objections of his own son Eric. When the kids are humiliated, Jimmy decides to find a sponsor. However, Ted’s influence leads Jimmy to a road of nowhere until old friend and food truck owner Big Mama decides to sponsor him. However, to get the sponsorship, Jimmy goes to the next competition dressed up as a big hot dog, even furthering the humiliation of the kids. When the kids learn Jimmy got them a sponsor, they are happy until they learn they will be known as the “Underdogs”. When Big Mama tells the kids what Jimmy had gone through to get them sponsored and that no one would take them, the kids finally decide to go along with being the Underdogs. As they begin to train hard, Jimmy brings in a new member, the very quiet yet violent-prone Rasheed, whose mother wants him to learn martial arts for self-discipline.

While the kids improve and begin to win, they win a big tournament that will lead them into a showdown with the Scorpions. As they begin to prepare, Alex and Sean’s aunt Valerie teaches the Underdogs ballet and dance to help the kids with their rhythm. Scorpion members Andrew, Jake, and Cameron find the kids at dance school and secretly videotape the class. They post it to Youtube and the next day, the kids are teased, especially Rasheed, who is revealed to have a speech problem. Rasheed gets suspended but Jimmy finally has a talk with him. Jimmy and Rasheed learn they have a lot in common and decide to work together. However, Jimmy is finally given an opportunity to return to MMA and must leave the day before the big showdown. As he flies out to Las Vegas, he looks at the contract and realizes that MMA is not for him anymore. Jimmy walks away and returns in time for the big showdown between the Underdogs and the Scorpions.

Full Cast

  • Ryan Potter as Eric Barret
  • Phillip Rhee as Jimmy “The Lightning Bolt”
  • Mirelly Taylor as Valerie Cruz
  • Max Gail as Charlie
  • Adam Irigoyen as Wyatt
  • Cade Sutton as Raymond
  • Nicholas Bechtel as Sean
  • Andrew Franklin as Ricky
  • Lorenz Arnell as Rasheed

Trailer

Photos

View more photos in our Photo Archive!

Film Trivia

  • This is Phillip Rhee’s first movie in over 15 years.
  • Ryan was more of a secondary character in the movie.
  • James Lew, Ryan’s step-father, worked on the film as a “Second Unit Director.”
  • The film was already filming by the time it was announced in August of 2013.
  • This is most likely when Jordanna (Ryan’s mom) met James Lew.
  • Quite a few famous Martial Artists have appeared throughout the film: Simon Rhee (Phillip’s brother), Richard Norton, James Lew, Don “Dragon” Wilson, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez & Dan Inosanto.
  • The film possibly started filming in July 2013.
  • The first images to promote the movie were released in September 2014.
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