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|Only the Strong|
|Directed by||Sheldon Lettich|
|Produced by||Samuel Hadida|
Stuart S. Shapiro
|Music by||Harvey W. Mason|
|Edited by||Stephen Semel|
|Box office||$3,273,588 (US)|
Only the Strong is a 1993 martial arts film directed by Sheldon Lettich, starring Mark Dacascos. It is considered to be the only Hollywood film that showcases capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art, from beginning to end.
Former Green Beret Louis Stevens (Mark Dacascos) returns to his hometown of Miami after completing military service in Brazil, only to learn that his old high school has become a haven for gangs and drug dealers. After Stevens uses his capoeira skills to kick several drug dealers off the school property, Mr. Kerrigan (Geoffrey Lewis), one of Stevens' old teachers, sees the impact that Stevens has on the students. Kerrigan gives him the task of teaching capoeira to a handful of the worst at-risk students at the school, giving Stevens an abandoned fire station as their practice area. While doing so, Stevens earns the ire of the local drug lord, Silverio Aliveres (Paco Christian Prieto), whose younger cousin, Orlando Aliveres (Richard Coca), is one of Stevens' students. Silverio is also a master of capoeira, and he engages Stevens in combat, beating him viciously. The horrified Orlando resolves to learn everything he can from Stevens. Stevens' class learns quickly, and they become very skilled at capoeira. The principal, delighted, proposes a district-wide capoeira program to the school board. After a field trip with his class, Stevens once again clashes with Silverio, who declares war against him.
Silverio's gang terrorizes the high school and sets fire to Kerrigan's classroom, resulting in the death of one of Stevens' students. As a result of this incident, Stevens is accused at fault, banished from the school grounds and the capoeira program is terminated. In retaliation to the attack, Stevens sneaks into Silverio's chop shop and defeats the workers before setting a cash-filled car on fire. Furious, Silverio orders the gang to bring Stevens to him alive. Orlando flees to get help. After a desperate battle, Stevens is finally captured and brought to a bonfire, where Silverio awaits. However, Stevens' capoeira students bar their path in an attempt to rescue their teacher. Before a brawl can ensue, the exhausted Stevens challenges Silverio to a single combat to win back his students. Despite a grueling battle, Stevens defeats Silverio before the police arrive, sending the gang scattering in all directions. With this defeat, Silverio's reputation as crime lord is gone.
Stevens' capoeira program proves such a success that his students graduate from high school. To celebrate, they join a Brazilian capoeira team to perform for Stevens at the graduation ceremony.
- Mark Dacascos as Louis Stevens
- Stacey Travis as Dianna
- Paco Christian Prieto as Silverio Aliveres
- Geoffrey Lewis as Mr. Kerrigan
- Todd Susman as Mr. Cochran
- Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter as Philippe
- Richard Coca as Orlando Aliveres
- Roman Cardwell as Shay
- Ryan Bollman as Donovan
- Christian Klemash as Eddie
- John Fionte as Hector Cervantes
- John Gregory Kasper as Coach Kasper
- Phyllis Sukoff as Mrs. Esposito
- Mellow Man Ace as the Student Rapper
- Sergio Kato as Silverio's Bodyguard
Though Mark Dacascos is a talented martial artist, his background is not initially in capoeira. Just prior to his audition, he received his training from famed capoeirista Amen Santo, who was responsible for much of the fight choreography and has a small role in the film.
Only the Strong (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), composed of eleven hip hop and capoeira music songs, was released in 1993 via Fox Records. It features contributions from Jibril Serapis Bey, Marcel Branch, Patrick McCain, Donna Simon, Mellow Man Ace, Miami Boyz and New Version of Soul, as well as Kao Rossman, Scott G., Iki Levy, Stuart S. Shapiro, Blueblood, DJ Muggs, Kid Fury and LRoc on production duties. The most prominent songs in the film are Serapis Bey's "Paranauȇ" and "Zoom-Zoom-Zoom" - the latter being more well known as the theme song for Mazda's TV commercials.
|1.||"Paranauê" (performed by Jibril Serapis Bey)||3:10|
|2.||"Miami Boyz" (performed by Miami Boyz)||Kid Fury of Bass Patrol||3:51|
|3.||"Zoom-Zoom-Zoom" (performed by Jibril Serapis Bey)||Rossman||Kao Rossman||2:53|
|5.||"Babalu Bad Boy" (performed by Mellow Man Ace)||DJ Muggs||3:43|
|6.||"Swang da Funk" (performed by New Version of Soul)||4:17|
|8.||"Olelê, O'Lalá" (performed by Jibril Serapis Bey)||Vargas||Kao Rossman||3:09|
|9.||"Enter the Dojo"||Yizhaq||3:22|
|10.||"Only the Strong" (performed by Marcel Branch, Patrick McCain and Donna Simon)||4:10|
|11.||"Only the Strong (Remix)" (performed by Marcel Branch, Patrick McCain and Donna Simon)||3:04|
Box office and reception
Only the Strong earned US$3,273,588 at the U.S. box office, making only more than half of its US$6 million budget.
The film was universally panned by critics, earning an 8% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 13 reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film one out of four stars, saying, "The message of a movie like Only the Strong, building on the fascist undertones of its title, is almost cruel in its stupidity and naivete. It's almost a relief that few people in the audience for such a film ever remember if it even had a message or not". Joe Brown of The Washington Post also wrote a scathing review, saying it "relies slightly less relentlessly on violence for its own sake than most in this genre, but the film is clumsily assembled and edited, heavy on the slow-mo, and its simplistic story plays like 'The Kids From Fame' armed with very sharp knives".
- Box Office Mojo - Only the Strong
- Allen, Terence (May 1996). "Five hot martial arts videos: For the action filled films". Black Belt: 86–88.
- Only the Strong (End credits from 1:34:56). Sheldon Lettich. 20th Century Fox. 2003 .CS1 maint: others (link)
- "Only the Strong (Soundtrack)". August 10, 1993. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- "Soundtracks for Only the Strong (1993)". www.imdb.com. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Only the Strong at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ebert, Roger (1993-08-27). "Only the Strong". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
- Brown, Joe (1993-08-27). "Only the Strong". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-17.