The 50th Anniversary of WHEN TAEKWONDO STRIKES. 2023 marks the 50th Anniversary Golden Harvest’s film, When Taekwondo Strikes. This Raymond Chow action movie was most notable because it was the only film of taekwondo Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee. While the project is a low budget, formula, action film in the Raymond Chow genre of films, it is also more than that. When Taekwondo Strikes is worth a viewing by students of taekwondo.
This is from our 2016 article about the film:
“While the film is not abundant with taekwondo philosophy or technique, it does tell a story that most American taekwondo students are unfamiliar with. That story is set in the backdrop of the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II and the Korean resistance to that occupation. This tale of modern oppression is, simultaneously, a tale of how embedded in the fabric of the Korean culture taekwondo is. Rhee plays the leader of the underground resistance who is, of course, a taekwondo Grandmaster. Rhee is forced to reveal his identity, and risk death, in order to attempt to save the life of an imprisoned Catholic Priest.
The film’s sparse dialogue is subtitled but the action is plentiful as Rhee is joined by an All Star cast of Asian action stars, including Angela Mao, Carter Wong, Sammo Hung, and many more fighters/actors. While many styles of martial arts are evident, the presence of Rhee and Anne Winton, Rhee’s star pupil off the movie screen, remind us that this is, theoretically, a taekwondo action film.
As a snapshot of modern Korean history and a look at the role of Taekwondo in personal defense and the defense of a culture I do recommend this film.”
Two years later, in 2018 Grandmaster Rhee would pass away and be mourned all over the world for his contributions to Taekwondo and humanity.
One of the interesting and little know facts about this film was that it was Bruce Lee who introduced his friend, Jhoon Rhee, to Golden Harvest to get the film made. In addition to Lee’s friendship with Rhee he liked the fact that the story of the film involved a similar theme to Lee’s own Fist of Fury. That theme was resistance to Japanese occupying forces.
The film is also known and been released as Sting of the Dragon Masters and Taekwondo Heroes.
When Taekwondo Strikes is playing on Hi-Yah , starting today.
-by Marc Zirogiannis, Editor in Chief