Junior martial arts champion Ted Jan Roberts makes his film debut which features legendary kickboxer turned actor Don “The Dragon” Wilson in a special appearance.
Kevin Ryan is a young martial arts champion from Kalamazoo, Michigan who is heading to California with his sister Megan to see his idol, kickboxer turned action star Don “The Dragon” Wilson. Kevin’s uncle Bob, a talent agent, is the one who promised Kevin and Megan, who wishes to see teen heartthrob Tommy Hart as well. However, what the duo do not know is that Uncle Bob isn’t as big as he once was.
Bob is a down on his luck agent who owes a gambling debt to some local hoodlums. Desperate for money, Bob still attempts to make Kevin and Megan’s trip memorable. When Kevin learns the truth about Uncle Bob, he is at first heartbroken. However, he becomes determined to help Uncle Bob fend off the goons with his martial arts skills. Soon enough, when Megan goes on a date with Tommy, that night will soon be unforgettable to this trio of uncle, niece, and nephew.
At the time of the film’s release, L.A.-based PM Entertainment began slowly becoming one of indie action cinema’s top film companies due to the likes of Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Gary Daniels making their way to become 90’s action heroes. Deciding to take a chance on adding a family demographic, the search was on for a young martial artist who would become their PM’s newest star.
Enter twelve-year old Ted Jan Roberts, who after a brief appearance on an episode of Married with Children, makes his film debut in the titular role. As the young Kevin, the film gives Roberts a chance to showcase his martial arts skills and truly looks like he is having fun with the role. While his character calls for him to meet the legendary Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Kevin does find himself having to defend his Uncle Bob, played by Stephen Furst, who has a bit of fun himself as a down on his luck agent who finds himself in a terrible jam but remains loyal to his family. Furst had so much fun making this film that would go on to not only return for the sequel, but make his directorial debut on that very film.
Of course, to rival another family martial arts film released at the time, 3 Ninjas, there has to be some idiotic goons who Kevin must face off against and they come in the form of Billy Hufsey as Guido with Red Horton and Joe Murphy as his thugs. Hollywood veterans Chris Mitchum and Lauren Tewes make cameos as Kevin and Megan’s parents who need a vacation, so they send the kids to California. Art Camacho makes a cameo himself as Kevin’s martial arts teacher in the opening tournament sequence and also served as the film’s fight choreographer.
The film may be somewhat of a showreel for Roberts when it comes to his martial arts skills, but Camacho’s fight choreography makes it quite a hoot to watch. Aside from Guido and his goons, Roberts take on some bikers at a pool hall, some goons at the beach, and then the finale in a nightclub, where everything comes to a head. There’s even a fun sequence set at Universal Studios to take away the more serious plot of the film as a breather/intermission of sorts.
Magic Kid may not be as big as 3 Ninjas at the time, but it is still a fun martial arts adventure for the family that highlights the talents of young Ted Jan Roberts as the titular role, filled with some fun fight sequences and any Don “The Dragon” Wilson fan will want to see his special appearance in the film.
WFG RATING: B
A PM Entertainment Production. Director: Joseph Merhi. Producers: Joseph Merhi and Richard Pepin. Writer: Stephen Smoke. Cinematography: Ken Blakey. Editing: Geraint Bell.
Cast: Stephen Furst, Ted Jan Roberts, Shonda Whipple, Sandra Kerns, Billy Hufsey, Red Horton, Joe Murphy, Joseph Campanella, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Chris Mitchum, Lauren Tewes.