Charismatic T.J. Roberts’ latest action flick also marks the directorial debut of leading Hollywood fight choreographer Art Camacho and a cameo appearance by Don “The Dragon” Wilson. In this one T.J. plays a born loser who’s converted to a fighter and a ladie’s man by wearing a magic ring given to him by a wise martial arts master.
By Tim Baker (around early 1996)
Renowned martial arts fight choreographer and first-time director Art Camacho has scored a TKO with his newly completed P.M. Entertainment feature, “The Power Within.” Starring teenage martial arts sensation T.J. Roberts, and bolstered by a strong cast including Don “The Dragon” Wilson in a cameo role, “The Power Within” is slated for video release in October. “The Power Within” centers on young Stan Dryer (Roberts) as he struggles through a minefield of young love, mystical journeys and terrible danger.
Like most teenagers, Stan is having a tough time at school. . .and at home . . . and with girls — actually, he’s struggling with just about everything in his young life. His single mom, played with just the right amount of spaciness by veteran actress Karen Valentine, tries to help him in her own fumbling way, but is unable to reach her troubled son.
Things only get worse when the “Spur Posse” types at his high school use him as a blocking sled, and his spirits aren’t lifted when his younger brother affectionately refers to him as “Mr. Loser. Then, enter mystical Master Yung (played by Gerald Okamura, who must have been born looking 60) and one of two matching magic rings. In a brilliantly-staged fantasy/action sequence at the Griffith Park Observatory (the same site where James Dean engaged in a memorable knife fight 40 years ago in “Rebel Without a Cause”), Master Yung is mortally wounded by bad apple Vonn (William Zabka) and subsequently rescued by the terrified but determined Stan. Vonn’s goal is to find the matching ring and through it acquire unimaginable strength. When he saves Master Yung, Stan is whisked magically to the beach in his convertible Cadillac and finds himself in possession of a magical ring given to him by the old master. We’re not talking cubic zirconium here, either. When Stan puts on this ring he becomes a cross between Bruce Lee and Brad Pitt! Stan’s life is instantly changed upon possession of the ring. Bullies get the justice they so richly deserve, Stan’s girl sees the light, and everything seems just swell. That is, until Vonn, possessor of the matching magic ring, starts stalking Stan to add his ring to the one he already owns. Stan is suddenly plunged into a fierce battle of right and wrong. There is only one way Stan can fulfill the destiny of the ring — if discovers “The Power Within.”
“The Power Within” is a well-balanced film, delicate and touching when it needs to be, powerful and striking when the mood turns grim. The fights and violence are performed with specific dramatic intent, and martial arts coordinator Randall Ideishi deserves kudos for his crisp and sure touch. This is Roberts’ fifth feature film. With a strong message for kids as well as effective action and visuals, “The Power Within” should show considerable muscle in video stores.
“Saban’s Masked Rider”: T.J.’s New TV Series
T.J. Roberts, the Whiz Kid of martial arts, will star in the new television series “Saban’s Masked Rider.” His character and the series was spun off of three “Power Rangers” episodes in which he made a guest appearance. The weekly series will begin airing on Saturday September 23rd at 8:00 a.m. on the Fox Children’s Network, a calculated time slot immediately following the wildly popular “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”
In “Saban’s Masked Rider,” Roberts plays an alien teenager who possesses Superman-like powers. He is sent to Earth from another Galaxy to ward off the evils and injustices on this planet. “Saban’s Masked Rider” is the brainchild of TV producer Haim Saban, who has captained his other two television series, “Power Rangers” and “V.R. Troopers,” to ratings prominence and phenomenal merchandising acceptance with today’s youth.
Director Art Camacho
Art Camacho is one of Hollywooid’s most prolific fight choreographers and one of only a handful of martial artists who have made the successful transition to directing. His martial arts background spans over 15 years and his film background over eight years. Camacho began his film career as an actor doing local stage productions and worked his way into motion pictures. As a martial artist he naturally entered into action-adventure films, which is one of his passions. He soon found himself being frequently asked to choreograph fight films and amassed an impressive array of over 25 credits. Camacho’s talent, drive and ambition led him to advance his career up “the food chain,” as it’s called in Hollywood, when he was given the opportunity to direct “The Power Within.” He did such an outstanding job in his directorial debut — competently blending action with a heartwarming story — that he is currently fielding new directing jobs from other production companies. Camacho is currently working on the sequel to “The Power Within,” and has in development two other feature films scheduled to be shot in late in 1995 and early ’96.