"The Martial Arts Kid" -a film co-headlined by two martial arts/action-movie legends - surprised many Hollywood observers and even one of it's stars by smashing it's $150,000 Kickstarter goal three days early.
The film launched on Kickstarter on Monday, April 21 and all involved felt confident that the ability to raise $150,000 would rest primarily on the perceived popularity of it's stars, Cynthia Rothrock and Don "The Dragon" Wilson.
Those involved with "The Martial Arts Kid" felt you couldn't 't get a more natural or bankable pair for a Kickstarter than these two icons.
But believing it is one thing. The Kickstarter totals would be an objective test.
Consider that test passed with flying colors, as "The Martial Arts Kid" hit it's $150,000 goal with three days to spare - and the pledges keep coming in and likely will continue to do so until June 4.
So yes,the legendary "Dragons" are back - and martial arts fans sure seemed to be stoked and willing to pledge in order to see their favorite stars back onscreen again.
"I always believed that Don & Cynthia's friends and fans would step up and support them with a strong family film that has a message", says James Wilson, Don's brother and Co-Producer of "The Martial Arts Kid".
It is Rothrock's first action/martial arts film as a lead since 2004's "Sci-Fighter" and Don Wilson's first action/martial arts film as a lead since 2007's "The Last Sentinel".
"I am so thankful and blessed to have such an amazing group of friends and fans that have helped us reach our goal on Kickstarter", said Rothrock. "Thanks everyone for wanting to be part of my next film and seeing me in action."
"I feel gratitude to my fans and a little bit of surprise", says Don Wilson. "This is the first Kickstarter I've been involved with, so it's the first time I've been involved with something that was supported financially by people who did not expect a monetary return on their investment. I believed there would be a positive response, but I honestly did not KNOW that we were going to raise $150,000. Now I feel more motivated than ever to create a film that will reward those fans with a memorable experience."
Rothrock and Wilson, who have starred in over 75 action/martial-arts films combined, will play the aunt and uncle of a troubled teen named Robbie, who will be played by Jansen Panettiere.("Tiger Cruise"), who moves to a beach town in Florida after the death of his mother. They both teach him martial arts as a way to heal and to protect those he cares about and himself.
"I think hitting the Kickstarter goal is awesome, tremendous and reflective of the desire for the kind of film we're doing - which is a martial arts film as well as a family film", says Panettiere. "There's a lot of reasons for hitting the goal, but I think the main reason is who's involved - especially Cynthia Rothrock and Don Wilson."
"They are like rock stars in the martial arts world and martial arts films and they obviously have a lot of dedicated fans", said Panettiere.
Major roles that have been cast include: TJ Storm ("Black Cobra") as the opposing instructor to the "Kid",Matthew Ziff ("Six Gun Savior") as the bully and tormentor of the "Kid" and Kathryn Newton ("Bad Teacher"), who plays Rina, the object of Robbie's affections.
"I think the 'Martial Arts Kid' can be one of those hallmark, very special, epic movies with a real message...one that embodies the rich history of teaching the martial arts to the young and passing down these sacred traditions, while at the same time dealing with the critically important current movement of anti-bullying", says Dr. Robert Goldman, an Executive Producer on the film. "Reaching and surpassing their very significantly high Kickstarter financial goal..which is 200-1,200% of other such projects on the same site, just further demonstrates the true power and potential of this project."
Other roles already confirmed are Natasha Blasick ("Meet The Spartans", Sasha on "Days of our Lives") and Tara Cardinal ("Legend of the Red Reaper"), Inga Van Ardenn ("Crossing Shadows"), comic Graham Elwood ("Cram"), Jeff Behar, Adrienne Camille ("The Devil's Dozen"), Daniel Moncada ("Sabotage"), Sofya Skya ("Assassins Run") and Vicki Vodar ("Cross Threads") .
"It's excellent we hit our goal early!", exclaimed Storm. "I expected no less from the dynamic team of Don and James Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock and (stunt coordinator) James Lew."
"I think we have overwhelming support from the martial arts community and the public in general because of the positive message of our film also we the producers have been working relentlessly behind the scenes to accomplish our goal", says Ewart Chin, an Associate Producer on the film.
"I think it's going to be a great movie", says co-producer Cheryl Wheeler Duncan. "The people involved are all great people and very professional and it's because of the quality of the people working in this film that I think people responded.and wanted to personally support 'The Martial Arts Kid' ."
Composer/songwriter Martin Blasick, who gained serious Oscar consideration for his work on "Magic Mike" - is a contributing songwriter. Emmy award winning composer Boris Zelkin is doing the soundtrack. Cinematographer Denis Maloney is on board as DP. He shot "The Contender" with Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen & Gary Oldmann, and "No Vacancy" with Timothy Olyphant & Christina Riccci. Michael Baumgarten is the Director and screenwriter . He is an award-winning screenwriter notably for "Smitty" with Peter Fonda, Mira Sorvino & Lou Gossett Jr.
"It feels great to finally have the resources to make our movie with the production values it deserves", says Baumgarten. "A big thanks to our producing team, the martial arts community, social media, friends, family, the press who got behind our indie movie, the anti-bullying group Bullying..We're Kickin' It and Kickstarter for making this possible. Now the fun begins!"
"I don't think people are going to be able to ignore this movie", says Wheeler-Duncan. "It's just got too many great components to it. I've worked on so many great films. This is going to be a project made with love."
"It's a little different from the films we've done in the past", says Rothrock, the Queen of Martial Arts Films. ""I feel really good about it. This is going to be one of those films that looks like it will have enough of a budget and enough care to make sure everything is done the right way. From the script to the casting to the music we use in certain scenes, James and Cheryl are making sure every detail is taken into account and that everyone is putting forth their best effort into making a great film. That's very exciting to me."