Review: Sidekicks (1992)
Composer: Alan Silvestri
Label: None (unreleased: score analysis based on film)
Catalogue Nr.: None
Another Karate Kit (1984) rip-off came in 1992 with the Norris-family project Sidekicks directed by Chuck's brother Aaron Norris. It stars Jonathan Brandis as Barry, an asthmatic weakling who gets bullied by classmates and wants to learn karate to become like his idol Chuck Norris. Barry admires Norris so much that he regularly dreams himself into the movies of Norris as his sidekick and by the end of the film, he hasn't only learned karate but also met his idol and won a big national karate contest. The moral of the film: Believe in Chuck Norris and you can do everything. Apart from the various dream sequences of Barry, which are quite fun like mini-spoofs of Norris' films, the film is a formulaic carbon-copy of Karate Kit (1984). Barry is the formulaic Daniel, his teacher Mr. Lee is the formulaic Mr. Miyagi and Chuck Norris... well, is Chuck Norris and since he only played himself, he thankfully did not have to act very hard. The message of the film is quite frightening. I don't want to imagine a kid (doesn't really have to be an asthmatic) putting all his energy into becoming like his idol, especially when the idol is Chuck Norris because the poor puppy would probably end up in low-budget films like this, playing himself in the hope that the result can entertain the small crowd of Texas-Ranger fans and generate enough interest on the home video market.
(Please NOTE: No score release of any kind exists of Sidekicks, so this review is based on the score as heard in the film. The above cover art is entirely fan-fictional and was added for promotional purposes only!)
Normally, I avoid fare like Sidekicks but in this particular case I was literally hunting down the film. The reason for this was basically one important crew member: composer Alan Silvestri. You can hardly imagine how curious I was about his music for this odd flick and I had some very high hopes but sadly, what I heard during the film was disappointing for most of the time. First of all, the score is almost entirely electronic (with the exception of some percussion and string stuff) in the tradition of Silvestri's other score for a Chuck Norris vehicle called The Delta Force (1986). Now an entirely electronic score isn't necessarily a bad thing but I have my problems with this cheesy 80's pop synth nostalgia that poisons the score, especially in a film of the 90's. If only it would be as fun as the music for The Delta Force (1986) and it could probably offer something. There is a main theme as always with Silvestri's scores but here it reveals itself as a rather weak one and is basically absent in the film for most of the time. The most interesting aspect about this creation is basically the way the film was spotted because the underscore is more prominently used during Barry's dream sequences. Especially during the beginning of the film, the music puts an emphasis on his dream world where he escapes the cruel reality of a day in school. Later on, when he starts training Karate with Mr. Lee, the music also enters his real life and seemingly notifies us that he is about to make his dreams come true.
The first dream opens the film with an occult scene where a woman is about to be sacrificed by evil cultists but saved by Chuck Norris. Those cultists are represented musically by the same sampled, quick tribal humming that Silvestri used before on Predator 2 (1990) or The Clan Of The Cave Bear (1986) though here it is nothing more than a fitting but simplistic and recycled idea. Chuck Norris' karate rescue is scored with an outburst of pop-synth beats. On to the second dream, where Barry dreams himself into a special forces jungle mission to blow off an enemy camp. A full statement of the main theme bursts out on synthesized rock guitars as Chuck Norris appears and the lead-level in the air increases. The next dream is a western adventure and Alan Silvestri scores the eye-duels with suspenseful low-key strings and flute statements similar to the McFly-Tannen-duel in Back To The Future Part 3 (1990). A lowered-down rendition of the main theme can be heard when Barry is forced by his sports teacher to climb a rope and a hallucinated Chuck Norris appears to help him through and here, the music also signals the moment when Barry takes things into his own hands. Now, the fourth dream follows with Barry having an asthma attack and a nightmare about being tortured by a Nazi-general (the ordinary hallucination you have when struggling with death), the music turns suspenseful with synth-horns performing some gothic trademark silvestri-chords.
Enter Mr. Miyagi... aehm, excuse me... I mean Mr. Lee. Lovely and gentle harp sounds hinting the main theme as Lee visits Barry in the Hospital - definitely the score's highlight. The training montage follows with really cheesy pop-beats accompanying a weird sampled, Chinese instrument doing some crazy asian chords as Lee rattles Barry's bones. This is where the music finally comes closer to the cheesy fun of The Delta Force (1986) mainly because Alan Silvestri has barely tackled asian music in his career and the training montage is one of these rare occasions. The material is reprised in a slightly different way and gets almost a Lalo Schifrin glass percussion accompaniment when Barry defends himself with the newly acquired karate skills against one of the bullies. During the final Karate contest, the music basically serves as source music with a variety of show-music from synth-pop arrangements that slightly tackle Romancing The Stone (1984) territory to some meditative bass-ethnic percussion crossovers for the different karate performances. A slowed down rendition of the main theme is playing over the end credits.
Score as heard in the film: 44%
Score as heard on CD: n/a
Sidekicks is another score that has never received any kind of release, neither officially nor as promo or bootleg. Not that this is a crucial loss to the world of film music but I can imagine the one or other Silvestri fan who might be interested in this oddity. Maybe some label can some day produce a 1000-unit limited edition of this score. Such a low pressing number would surely be sufficient and I can't imagine that more people would invest into this. The music is really nothing special, so a future release would only please the Silvestri-completists anyways.
Presentation by the Label: n/a
The second Chuck Norris flick that receives Alan Silvestri as musical sidekick but with his resulting synth-score, the composer fails to re-create the cheesy fun that originally came with his outright cheesy and entertainingly energetic score for The Delta Force (1986). In Sidekicks, Silvestri's music barely serves its purpose with 80's pop nostalgia and some low-key underscore for a minimal and mostly electronic ensemble. Some of the musical ideas seem highly recycled and the main theme is rather standard Silvestri from the lower end of his wide quality range. However, Silvestri fans might be interested in hearing some fun music for the training montage where the composer is mixing 80's pop with playful Asian chords, something he hasn't done much in his otherwise varied career. Furthermore, it should be of note that the film has been spotted carefully with the music underlining the kid's Chuck Norris dream world at the beginning of the film while the music is used more prominently in his real life as we approach the fulfilment of his dreams.
Review by Andreas Creutzburg
No release, no tracklisting... but a little bonus instead. Here comes a short sample of the main theme from the end credits for you to get a better imagination of the music from Sidekicks. Sorry about the bad sound quality but with my limited web space, something's gotta give.
This clip was created and posted entirely for promotional and non-commercial reasons! If, for whatever reasons, someone out there feels violated in his (copy)rights due to this lousy clip of barely 50
seconds, then please feel free to let me know before you send out the suits.