The original Best of
the Best martial arts flick, which was not popular with
critics, hit the scene in 1989. The movie starred Eric Roberts as Alex Grady,
Philip Rhee as Tommy Lee, and James Earl Jones as Frank
Couzo, their coach. There were a number of sequels
released post 1989, including Best of the Best II in
1993 (which also featured Eric Roberts).
In the original, Alex Grady and Tommy Lee
are chosen to represent the USA at an international
martial arts tournament against the mega-talented team
Korea. The USA team members struggle, initially,
with personal issues, personality conflicts, and daily
life issues as they learn to come together as a team.
During the tournament, Grady wins his
match, even though he is injured, but a couple of the
other team members lost. Tommy's Korean opponent
is the captain of the Korean team, Dae Han, who had
killed Tommy's brother in a previous tournament.
Tommy's proves his skills, and is in with 1 point of
winning the tournament for team USA, but that one point
would likely kill Dae Han, so coach Couzo ended the
match, and team USA forfeited the win. The movie
ends with Dae Han apologizing to Tommy Lee, becoming his
friend, and the entire Korean team giving team USA their