Phillip Rhee Returns to Screen in ‘Underdog Kids’


Phillip Rhee, the actor/filmmaker best known for his Best of the Best films centered on a taekwondo tournament (that’s circa 1989 and 1993, for younger folks), is out with a new film—an action-comedy that revisits the subject matter Rhee knows best: martial arts.

Underdog Kids, available on DVD and On Demand starting July 7, is a family-friendly feature about a former MMA champ (played by Rhee) who coaches a rag-tag bunch of inner-city kids in Los Angeles to kick their struggles away with karate. The Korean American Rhee, a martial arts expert, wrote, directed and stars in the film.

rheefilmingPhillip Rhee in his director’s chair (Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)

The straight-to-DVD film stars such up-and-coming actors as Disney Channel’s Adam Irigoyen (Shake it Up!) and Nickelodeon’s Ryan Potter (Big Hero 6, Supah Ninjas) as well as seasoned acting veterans Beau Bridges and Tom Arnold.

The film, produced by Anchor Bay Entertainment, traces the journey of the underdog Mid-City Community Center karate team as it takes on the undefeated Beverly Hills Junior National karate team on the road to nationals.

_MG_4142_57904(Photo courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment)

In a brief interview with KoreAm by phone, Rhee said the martial arts action film teaches tenacity, in the likeness of The Karate Kid.

“One thing that I learned out of that was to never give up,” Rhee said. “I wanted to instill that idea into Underdog Kids for kids who are going through a difficult time [and] raised by single parents.”

You can watch the film’s trailer below:


Read more about Rhee and his return to filmmaking in our upcoming August/September 2015 print issue.

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