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Thread: The New Gladiators

  1. #1
    TCB Mafia Raised on Rock's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
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    The New Gladiators

    So this is a request to get to know all that we could about this Elvis '74 film project that was never released but some of the shooting was done. Both info, and opinions about it are most welcome.

    Also does any body know who was in charge of the later video release of it, is it anygood? how close is from Elvis original idea? are there any Elvis footgage on it?

    Here are some clips to get started:

    Movie Trailer 1

    Movie Trailer 2

    About this unfinished Elvis project

    From the movie: This is Elvis

    Some pics and footage around the time

    P.S. Is there any video of Elvis wearing the Black Karate suit?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails '74 Karate (7).jpg  

  2. #2
    TCB Mafia LianaKaralivanou's Avatar
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    I don't know much about Karate or Kung Fu but I have to admit that I loved watching Elvis in action and I admired his technique. He was right when he said that karate wasn't about just breaking bricks. It was so much more.
    Goodbye Rosanne...Your "family" in TCB will always remember you.

  3. #3

  4. #4
    TCB Mafia Raised on Rock's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Links Getlo, the Elvis Australia article was the kind of info I was looking for, to bad the final cut of the film doesn´t includes neither the Elvis Presley and the Bruce Lee footage, hope some reedition of it will include it at least as DVD extras.

    Here is the Article:

    The 93 minute feature film features some of the truly great martial artists of the era names like Ed Parker, Benny “The Jet”

    Available from

    Urquidez, Ron Marchini, Eric Lee, Mike Stone, Roy Kurban, Emil Farkas, Fumio Demura to mention but a few are seen in what is known as the

    Golden Era of Karate in America (mid 1970’s) fighting for top honors and at the same time telling a story as they take on each other, as

    well as some of the best international fighters, names like, Englands Ticky Donovan , Geert Lemmens from Belgium, and many others fought

    for the titles.

    Filmed in the tradition of surfings “The Endless Summer” these karate men travel the country and the globe in search of the best fighters of

    the time. The film ends in California where they fight it out in real competition and the final match between Roy Kurban (now a judge in

    Texas) and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, is one of classic matches of all times in sport karate. Producer George Waite and director Robert

    Hammer enlisted some of the best available people of the time to put this film together. Names like Allen Daviau who went on to shoot the

    blockbuster “ET” and John Hora who went on shoot the “Gremlins”.

    They both are Academy Award winners for cinematography and the music score was created by David Crosby and Graham Nash who were

    a part of the legendary quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

    In retro-spective this film takes the audience back to the mid 1970’s and the era of “Easy Rider”. The viewer can re-live the revolutionary pop culture in America that is part of this feature film. The raw footage was found in a garage in West Hollywood where it had laid for over 30

    years waiting to be discovered. Also found was a pristine 16mm color

    print of Bruce Lee’s legendary 1967 demonstration at Ed Parker's

    “Long Beach International Karate Championships”. Plus an amazing 32

    minutes of Elvis Presley in color performing karate techniques in Memphis

    Tennessee. Rising Sun is still looking for possible projects to release

    this extremely rare footage.

    Ironically the project was converted to 21st century technology and l

    oaded on to Mini DV and the final cut was done in “Final Cut Pro”

    restoring life to a glorious project that was almost lost to the annals

    of time. It is available in DVD and VHS. This film is a must see for not

    only martial arts enthusiasts but anyone interested in the pop culture

    of the 1970’s, its music and attitude of the people and time. Now

    available in DVD or Video format $34.95 + $5.00 shipping and handling.

    NEW GLADIATORSElvis Presley’s pet karate film “NEW GLADIATORS”

    will be released 25 years to the day of his passing August 16th 2002.

    During the early 1970’s Elvis was deeply involved in training in the

    martial arts under Ed Parker a legendary martial artist who was the

    father of American Kenpo karate.

    The full length feature film was the brain child of producer George

    Waite who was studing as well with Parker in the early 1970’s. He

    approached Parker with a one page draft of an idea for a film. Parker l

    oved the idea so much he called “The King” on the spot and the two

    of them drove up to Elvis house in BelAir and presented the idea to

    him over a kitchen table where he was sitting.

    After hearing the idea Elvis’s initial reaction was: “well it sounds good

    but let me think about it. I will get back to you in the next week or so

    because I am going to Vegas tomorrow morning early to do a show

    first”. The next day at about 9:00 a.m. George, got a phone call, and

    to his surprise, it was “The King” himself who said “George can you fly

    up to Vegas tonight and see the show? I will send my plane back down

    for you and your girlfriend to come up for the show.” George agreed

    right away. When they arrived in Las Vegas a limo took them straight to

    the show and they were sitting front row centre when Elvis hit the

    stage. In the middle of his act Elvis introduced people like Charlton

    Heston and Sean Connery who were in the audience and then he

    introduced George to the audience saying he was going to produce

    his next film called “The New Gladiators”.

    After the show George was invited up to the top floor of the Hilton

    (Elvis’s had the entire floor) with the rest of the crowd of celebrities.

    Elvis even had George put on a short karate demonstration in front of

    every one. Elvis then pulled George off to the side and said “George I

    really like the idea” as he reached in his pocket and pulled out a cheque

    made it out for $50,000 and said take it down stairs and cash. Then l

    ets get started tomorrow morning.

    “Well I nearly fell over right there and then” said George Waite “but we

    were off and rolling and the next day we started making the “New

    Gladiators”. The film was shot by two of the top Hollywood

    cinematographers at the time Allen Daviau who went on to shoot

    Spielbergs “ET” and John Hora who shot “The Gremlins” . The terrific score

    was provided by David Crosby and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills and

    Nash fame.

    The film features the best karate fighters of the era including names

    like Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Steve (Sanders) Muhammad, Roy Kurban,

    Dan Anderson, Ron Marchini, Tom Kelly, John Nativadad, Darnell Garcia,

    Emil Farkas, Englands Ticky Donovan and Belgiums Geert Lemmens to

    name but a few who all clash in battles

    not just fights. To quote Emil Farkas who was there “they were not

    even battles they were all out wars. It was not uncommon to see

    broken noses or cracked ribs”.

    The original idea was that Elvis would narrate the entire film and as

    well demonstrate several techniques on the film showing his karate

    skills. Footage of the Elvis’s karate demonstration was also found, along

    with a 16mm color print that contains 8.5 minutes of Bruce Lee

    demonstrating and free sparring at the 1967 Ed Parkers Long Beach

    International Tournament. Both these finds have never been seen

    before. It was decided to not include it in the actual film as Elvis never

    did the narration.

    Rising Sun is now in possession of both of these archival films and is l

    ooking for options and ways to present this historically significant

    footage of the “King Of Rock and Roll” and the “King of Martial Arts”.

    When we asked Waite where and how he came up with the story

    concept he said “Elvis arranged for Bob Hammer the director and I to

    go to 20th Century Fox Studios and watch 3 of his favorite films. Elvis

    emphasized that this is the way I want it to be shot and produced.

    We did it exactly the way he wanted it.

    The three films were the “American Cowboy”, surfing’s “Endless

    Summer” and the motorcycle classic “Never on A Sunday”. So when

    the viewers watch this classic film they will see elements of these pop

    culture flicks of the 1970’s”. In fact the New Gladiators is karates

    version of the endless summer. Fighters in those days would travel

    from tournament to tournament looking for the best fighters out there

    to sharpen there skills on, similiar to how the surfers in “The Endless

    Summer” travelled the world looking for the perfect wave.

    The plot of the film is that an American team of five fighters were

    formed to take on the challenge of the best karate fighters in the world

    and they travelled first to England, to fight with the best Great Britain

    had to offer and then to Belgium to fight the best Europe had to offer.

    This era (mid 1970’s) is often referred to as the Golden Era of Karate as

    this when the best fighters in America and the world sharpened their

    skills. There was no safety equipment used back then or minimal at best

    and these guys were not playing tag karate like in todays tournaments.

    The viewer will see when one of the Americans Ron Marchini gets split

    wide open by the Belgium Captain Geert Lemmens and then US

    Champion Dan Anderson in slow motion gets a front kick full force

    right in the face that levels him. Neither of the attackers were

    disqualified for excessive contact it was deamed an accident. They

    then come back to the USA and began to fight in tournaments against

    each other and the final matchends up with Benny “The Jet” Urquidez

    fighting Roy Kurban of Texas in what has become one of the classic

    matches of all times in sport karate. We won’t tell you who wins but

    the match is exceptional and the story ends with the winner getting

    the girl in true Hollywood fashion.

    The big question though is why did it never get released and how did it

    come to getting released 25 years after the passing of Elvis? When we

    asked George Waite the Producer what happened he said “well when

    Elvis died I just lost all enthusiasm for the project as Elvis was the

    heart and soul and driving force behind the project as he called us

    nearly every day to see how the progress was coming along he really

    was deeply involved in it as he loved martial arts and would do anything

    to promote it. He trained with Ed Parker regularily in fact he was really

    quite good. Elvis had one unusal quality he did not feel physical pain

    and this made him part of the karate guys so to speak. ” In Elvis last

    days it was only his karate friends that were left and he really felt close

    to them. It was they he trusted.

    “ Then when Don Warrener of Rising Sun started to get on me about

    2 years ago I thought about bringing it out and doing it but I just didn’t

    have the heart for the project as Ed Parker had also passed away and

    I just couldn’t get it together to finish it so I decided to give it to Rising

    Sun Productions one of the biggest martial arts video companies in

    America and let them finish it off. The co-owner Isaac Florentine who

    is a terrific director took on the job of finishing it and I really believe

    that both Elvis and Ed would be very proud of the end result I know

    that both Bob Hammer the director and I are very pleased with the

    way it all has turned out and to see it finally come to fruition.”

    “The fact that it will be released 25 years to the day of Elvis passing

    was a total coincidence” said Warrener. The Hollywood martial arts

    community was having a celebrity roast for Bob Wall (“Ohara” in Enter

    The Dragon) and the organizer Gary Lee asked if we would consider

    having the premiere at the roast we thought it would be an excellent

    idea as many of the West coast martial artists would be there including

    Chuck Norris and many of the guys who actually appeared in the New

    Gladiators. It sounded like a natural. When we asked where it had been

    all these years, Warrener said “well George had it believe it or not in

    the back of a 1961 GMC pick up truck in his garage which is where we

    found it and rescued this piece of martial arts and film memorabilia.

    We then had it converted from 16MM, to Mini DV so that we could do

    the finish editing in our computers and then we brought it back out in

    Mini DV and had duplication masters made. DVD authoring was then

    done and DVD duplications were made.

    Over the years many of the martial arts community have heard about

    this mystery film but many had just put it off to being lost. Bey Logan

    a known Hong Kong producer and a big fan of Bruce Lee and Elvis said

    “WOW” thank goodness it wasn’t lost. When we showed the film to

    Geert Lemmens of Belgium he nearly started to cry as it brought back

    so many memories. Warrener, president of Rising Sun Productions said

    “Isaac and I are very proud to be able to be apart of this project and

    even more proud that we were able to bring out this film that Elvis and

    Ed Parker started nearly 30 years ago so that our children and

    grandchildren can see what karate was like when it first came to our

    shores. It was rough tough and a true brotherhood. Hopefully it will

    help to instill his feeling back into the arts.

    Rising Sun Productions is presently distributing the film along with their

    line of martial arts videos but is also looking for wide spread distribution

    through out the world.

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by TCBdiskin2 View Post
    Dude, please ... don't go there.

    Even if MGM filmed every show from that April 1972 tour (which they most certainly did not) there is nowhere near 200 hours shot of anything!
    Getlo - cute'n'cuddly

  6. #6
    Backstage Pass Kris P's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Dunno Getlo, there was quite a bit:

    Dreams are free.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Kris P View Post
    Dunno Getlo, there was quite a bit:
    Dreams are free.
    Yeah, I know. But nowhere near 200 hours worth.
    Getlo - cute'n'cuddly

  8. #8
    International Level SeeSeeRider777's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    New York City
    Quote Originally Posted by Kris P View Post
    Dunno Getlo, there was quite a bit:

    Dreams are free.
    Why are they holding out on us? ****
    "When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was a hero in the movie. So every dream that I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times. I learned very early in life that without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain't got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend; without a song. So I keep singing a song." - Elvis Presley

  9. #9
    International Level Rover's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    I had never heard of this project before...thanks for posting these videos

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