1992, PG, 101 min. Directed by Aaron Norris. Starring Chuck Norris, Jonathan Brandis, Beau Bridges, Mako, Julia-Nickson Soul, Joe Piscopo.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., May 7, 1993
All of you who have at one time nursed the notion that Joe Piscopo may be some sort of lower life form are proven correct in this silly waste of celluloid from the team that brought us Missing in Action III: The Spanking (or whatever it was). Aging “G.I. Joe” Norris stars as himself, the object of a teenage asthmatic's fantasies (get your mind out of the gutter, it's not nearly as interesting as that), and the once-brilliant Mako is Pat Morita/Obi Wan Kenobi to Brandis's Ralph Macchio/Luke Skywalker. Apparently trying to recreate himself as a kid-friendly, grade-B action hero -- big step, right? -- Norris and real-life sidekick/brother Aaron lensed this dog in Houston with financing from the local “Mattress King” (I'm not making this up) and the participation of various Texas karate schools. Big deal. As a Karate Kid doppelganger, Sidekicks comes as close as a plagiarism lawsuit will allow, so there's no need for me to synopsize this for you: you've already seen it, I'll bet. Wizened, balding Mako is -- surprise -- the aging font of warrior wisdom, and as such, he's the only person with any on-screen charisma in the whole film. As mentioned above, Joe “I Was Famous Once” Piscopo lends a note of reality to the film in what must surely be his dream role, that of an over-amped, Steroidian karate instructor with a penchant for Neanderthal idiocy and serious overacting. Brilliant, even if it is typecasting.