Saturday, January 18, 2014

G.I. JOE Week: Hello, Joseph & Quick Kick

Welcome to G.I. JOE week and Hello, Joseph (Yo, Joe!, get it?) Our look at an individual member of the Joe clan.  Things got hot while watching The Pyramid of Darkness, the third mini-series in the original G.I. Joe cartoon, as America's highly trained special missions force in a race to stop ruthless terrorist organization Cobra from activating a global electricity sapping device.  Somewhere in the arctic, Joes Alpine and Bazooka intercept Major Bludd placing the third of four cubes needed to activate the Pyramid.  Alpine and "Bazook" get separated from the main force and end up rafting the frigid waters on a small ice berg.  To make things worse, they're attacked by killer leopard seals while Cobra Crimson Vipers under the command of evil ninja Storm Shadow, fire red lasers at them from the shore.  It looks like it might be curtains for our guys until a pair of well thrown nunchucks knock the seals back into the water.  Alpine and Bazooka look up to see a buff Asian dude clad in only black karate pants, white head band and red sash carrying shuriken (throwing stars) despite the frozen tundra and blowing snow.  With that, America was introduced to "star of stage, screen and a regular on the gun show, Quick Kick, stunt man extraordinaire".

Quick Kick then takes out 6 Crimson Vipers in as many moves before mixing it up revered badass Storm Shadow.  In an impressive bout of animated fisticuffs, Quick Kick and Storm Shadow trade blows before launching into simultaneous jump flying side kicks right out of a ninja movie that leaves the Cobra ninja face first in the snow.  After a quick introduction, Quick, Alpine and Bazook hitch a ride on a Cobra Hiss Tank where we learn Quick was shooting a commercial for Frozen Fudgy Bars but his director left him in the cold, taking the money and equipment.

I think they could have also called him Quick Quip because homeboy's always cracking jokes, quoting the likes of John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Jackie Gleason and talking about movies he's done with the likes of Robert Redford.  Quick Kick adds to the fun and goofy ass nature of The Pyramid of Darkness mini-series which also introduces us to Fatal Fluffies: cute, pet size alien creatures that morph into angry giant sasquatch type things when a special whistle is blown.  There's subplots involving commando Snake-Eyes break dancing and cross dressing to evade capture and you get Alpine yodeling to cause an avalanche in the snow...yup, fantastic stuff.

In a later episode of Joe, we learn that Quick Kick, real name MacArthur Ito, is from Watts, California, where his parents run a general store.  A quick search shows that Kick only had speaking parts in 11 episodes of G.I. Joe over it's 95 chapters and to my surprise was voiced by an Asian actor named Francois Chau.  Chau has dozens of credits to his name, appearing on just about every television show since the 80's and more recently recurred on ABC's Lost.  Even more to my surprise was that Storm Shadow's almost stereotypical "ah-so" whisper was voiced by Asian actor Keone Young, the mother fucking Baba Ram from Surf Ninjas!  This was a huge shock to me as the only other prominent animated Asian characters I can think of, like Hamato Yoshi aka Splinter and The Shredder on long running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were voiced by non-Asians.  Although Shredder was played by Phil Avery aka Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air so it's not a total loss.  Then you had Samurai Jack, probably the only cartoon with an Asian main character, voiced by black actor Phil LaMarr of Futurama fame.  I've met him and he's a cool guy.  But you get what I'm saying, right?!

It's important to note that the show was only on for two years in 1985 and 1986.  This is where the Marvel comic book series kicks in because that shit ran for decades. In his toy bio, Quick is born to Japanese and Korean parents and is not accepted by either culture growing up.  He turns to martial arts and becomes a master in several disciplines before landing work as a stunt man.   In the comics, his background is expanded upon as his stunt work catches the eye of an on set military consultant who persuades him to enlist.  Soon after he's picked up by the Joe team and "awayyyy we go!".  In the comics lore, commando Snake-Eyes is one of the core characters and his background as a ninja is one of the most memorable arcs.  His rivalry with Storm Shadow is fierce and in the panels, Shadow puts a beating on Quick Kick.

The comic book version of Quick Kick would take part of several operations in multiple countries around the world over 5 years and nearly 20 issues.  By 1991's universe shattering issue 109, Quick Kick, along with Doc, Breaker, Heavy Metal, Crazylegs and several others were killed in a botched mission in Trucial Abysmia.

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