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21. No More Kings - "Sweep The Leg"

I'll start by stating unequivocally that The Karate Kid is my favorite movie ever. No one can convince me there's a better film. I'm also a big fan of the novels of Gregory Maguire, wherein the author typically reimagines an existing story from another point of view, usually that of the villain.

So this surprise piece of nostalgia pop by No More Kings is right up my alley. It concerns the inner thoughts of Johnny Lawrence, the blond black belt ex-boyfriend who made Daniel LaRusso's life so miserable.

We all know that Daniel defeated Johnny at the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, and in the process earned Johnny's respect. "You're all right, man" Johnny says as he hands Daniel the trophy. It's one of the many intriguing moments in the film. Johnny, who through the whole film shows no hint of being anything but a conscious-free bully, suddenly has depth.

To be fair, it's not a complete turnaround. Earlier, when Johnny's coach, Martin Kreese, tells him to sweep Daniel's injured leg you see a look in Johnny's eyes, a look that shows he knows this has gone too far. Later (actually at the beginning of The Karate Kid Part II), Johnny stands up to the coach with disastrous results, but we are able to see that Johnny does indeed have some modicum of decency in his character.

The song continues this sort of unexpected redemption. Johnny obviously regrets his fall from grace and feels manipulated: "I was a superhero / King of 1985 / I showed no mercy / I was always Cobra Kai / But I caught a crane kick to the face / Uh-huh/ I guess he sealed my fate when he said / Sweep the leg Johnny."

It's true, to be reduced from an ace degenerate who was going to make everything work to a has-been with a broken second place trophy must have been hard. We all have lessons to learn.

Too often, funny songs are doomed by repeat listens, so big props go to songwriter Pete Mitchell for being able to evoke a smile while still treating his subject matter with reverence. As for the accompanying music, it sounds like Maroon 5's Adam Levine fronting Living Colour. Or Stevie Wonder doing vocals on the Chili Peppers version on Higher Ground.

To check out the video, starring and directed by William Zabka (the actor who played Johnny) and featuring a cameo from Ralph Macchio, click this link: http://www.freeindie.com/2007/01/no_more_kings_sweep_the_leg.html

Comments

Mantis said…
You have to check out the interview with william zabka that take place not so long ago, about that video. The entire cast is in the video, including the referee. Only Elisabeth Shue and Miyagi are missing.

Sayounara, from Argentina. Karate Kid is one of the best things in the whole world, man. It is a classic here too. Everyone knows it and has seen it.

(I ended up in your blog looking for the lyrics of this song, you are the only one that has at least a little piece of it)

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