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    Karate International, 10/92
 

New Line Cinema's "Excessive Force"

Interview conducted by Michael Depasquale Jr.
(click on pics to enlarge)

 

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When "New Line Cinema" produced the film "Excessive Force", it encouraged the very versatile and talented Thomas Ian Griffith to extend his horizons from portraying the very believable bad guy in Karate Kid III to good guy, author and co-producer of a new vehicle.

New Line Cinema has operated as a leading independent producer and distributor of motion pictures. New Line licenses its films to ancillary markets such as, cable or broadcast TV as well as to international theater feature film outlets.

In this script a policeman from Chicago whose short fuse and fast fists create mortal conflicts with the mob. The mob strikes back with brutal attacks on the police force, and everyone who has direct contact with cop in question. There is a frustrated police captain, murdered best friend, beautiful girlfriend and jazz entrepreneur included in this scenario. Joining Griffith in starring roles are: James Earl Jones, jazz club proprietor, Lance Henricksen, as the police captain; Tony Todd, murdered friend; Charlotte Lewis, Model; and Burt Young, mobster of the moment.

When interviewed by us, Griffith pointed out the main thrust of the story. Undercover police activities and narcotics lend themselves to Martial Arts acumen.

Griffith started training in Kenpo at age 12, continued on to Tae Kwon Do at 14, and earned his black belt in 1980. He had been a serious actor for about 8 years in The New York area before moving to California.

After reading for John Avildsen at an audition for "Karate Kid III", he became engaged in a conversation with Pat Johnson. On learning of Tom's martial arts background, Pat sent him back to Avildsen. Griffith, a trained martial art artist was considered a bonanza to the plot formation. Scenes involving martial arts were choreographed around him. Up until his time, the martial arts maneuvers were just a way of working out. Suddenly, a lead role in a major movie is dependent upon his achievements in the area.


In speaking with Thomas, we found him to be ambitious, creative, and sensitive to the world around him. He seem to be very conscious of the children practicing the martial arts today, and the various influences invading the conscious and subconscious thoughts and actions. He voiced his concerns about the American youth as well as the future role they will play. At this point we would like to illustrate his direct responses as best we can, by quoting his closing remarks.

Kids are always infatuated with the action in Martial Arts Films. Let me tell you, there is nothing better for kids than the Arts. That is what kept me straight and decent. I always had a place to go. That was the dojo. I always had something to look forward to doing.

 

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