The Power Within (1995)

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What if a ring gave you the self-confidence and power to make yourself a better person? That is the question that revolves around this teen action film starring martial arts champion Ted Jan Roberts.

Stan Dryer is a high school student who works at the local amusement park. He has eyes for fellow worker Sandy but is afraid to ask her out. He studies karate, but has no self-confidence or self-esteem. His mother and best friend try to help but to no avail. However, Stan’s life is about to change.

When Stan sees a mysterious man named Master Yung confront an evil man named Raymond Vonn, Stan comes to Yung’s rescue and in return, Yung gives Stan one of the mystical “Ancient Rings of Power”. Legend believes that two rings that form the shape of the yin/yang symbol will give its wearer ultimate power. Vonn has one and now Stan has the other ring.

Stan learns he is given new powers with the ring. He possesses amazing fighting skills, but a change in his self-confidence and esteem makes Stan a friendlier person. However, Vonn wants the other ring to achieve the ultimate power and on Stan’s prom night, the ultimate showdown in inevitable.

While PM Entertainment have had its share of violent action thrillers, they’ve taken the liberty of making martial arts action films geared toward the teenage crowd. They’ve found their teen hero in karate champion and future Saban hero Ted Jan Roberts. At the time this film was made, Roberts was also working on Saban’s ill-fated Masked Rider, which featured footage from the Japanese series Kamen Rider Black RX.

Roberts plays lead character Stan as a teen with issues, not so much angst as someone who lacks self-esteem and self-confidence. He gets bullied and ridiculed on many occasions. It is when he receives the ancient ring that he changes into someone with not only impeccable fighting skills, but he gains the self-confidence and self-esteem he lacks. The change is evident when he finally does ask his dream girl to the prom and impresses his sensei and kickboxing legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson (playing himself in a cameo).

It was great to see former Karate Kid bully and current Cobra Kai star William Zabka make a welcome return to the martial arts film genre. He truly kept going with his training in tang soo do and while his character of Vonn seems a little hokey at times (think evil laugh), he truly improved in the martial arts department. His look even defines the typical villain with long hair and sporting a red jacket and black clothes. It is clear Vonn wants to have the ultimate power and will do anything to get it.

Director Art Camacho also served as action choreographer. Camacho has the tendency to utilize the skills of his cast and succeeds here. While Roberts doesn’t really get to strut his skills until nearly halfway through the film, Zabka and Gerald Okamura have some pretty decent fight scenes to act as fillers before we see the teen Roberts unleash his skills. The finale pitting Roberts and Zabka has a bit of a supernatural edge, but that is expected. Once again, look out for the trademark double-triple takes employed by PM as part of their action forte.

The Power Within is a pretty decent film that showcases the talents of both Ted Jan Roberts and William Zabka. Definitely worth a rental.

A PM Entertainment production. Director: Art Camacho. Producers: Joseph Merhi and Richard Pepin. Writers: Jacobsen Hart and Scott McAboy. Cinematography: Ken Blakey. Editing: Chris Worland.

Cast: T.J. Roberts, Karen Valentine, Keith Coogan, John O’Hurley, William Zabka, Gerlad Okamura, Tracy Lindsey, P.J. Soles, Irwin Keyes, Karen Kim, Ed O’Ross, Jean Speegle Howard, Jacob Parker, Marc Riffon.

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