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Becoming successful in Hollywood is difficult to plainly put it, landing blockbuster movies is just as difficult, if not more so. Most aspiring actors have to spend a good amount of time paying their dues, accepting gigs that one wouldn't necessarily take if more options were available to them.
On average, an actor takes five to ten minor roles before they receive any of some recognition. But even then, their future in the industry is still uncertain. However, on rare occasions, some actors just luck out, becoming widely recognized for one appearance in a particular movie or tv series. Of course, those cases are very rare.
For the majority of actors in the industry, they have to accept all the jobs no one else wants, until they're noticed by someone important. One would assume that rule of thumb only applies to the nobodies, trying to make a name for themselves, but even some of the biggest known actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have gone through the ringer, taking on very low rate roles at the start of their acting careers. Don Cheadle is one actor who'd probably agree with that presumption the most, considering his beginnings in Hollywood started off with a little tv show called Sidekicks.
Even though Cheadle made two other appearances before Sidekicks, it was his small role on Sidekicks that really got his career rolling. At the same time, landing him pivotal roles in Colors and Hamburger Hill. So, it's safe to say Cheadle's one time appearance on Sidekicks factored into the momentum of his career moving forward.
Was Sidekicks an Important Stepping Stone in Cheadle's Career?
For anyone unfamiliar with Sidekicks, it ran for one season during the '80s. The show followed the exploits of a Los Angeles police officer who finds himself tutoring a young boy with a passion for martial arts. The young boy, Ernie Lee, manages to get himself embroiled in all kinds of sticky situations involving criminals of various sorts, but uses his unique set of martial arts skills to get himself out of those deadly encounters. Though, Ernie has the help of his LAPD cop mentor to take control of situations when a real crook needs to be apprended.
The description is weird in itself, but the show's visual emphasis on a boy using karate and other forms of martial arts to beat up criminals couldn't be any more fantastic. It's set in the backdrop of 1980's Los Angeles, a time where gang activity and turmoil within the city was rampant, but a kid who knows martial arts is capable of outwitting gangs, and various criminal characters in this universe. I think the premise is cool, but I don't think Don Cheadle liked the idea when he was pitched the scene involving Ernie using his karate to subdue him. Still, we're glad he took the part.
When Cheadle first pops up on camera, he's in some old man's face, shaking him down for cash, followed by him laying down a cheesy one liner about taking blood instead of money from him. That's when Ernie steps in, and their confrontation goes down just like every other fight between Ernie and inept criminals on Sidekicks. Ernie throws some karate style kicks, Cheadle and his thugs lunge at him clumsily, and Ernie counters with a kick that doesn't quite kill these full grown men, but does just enough damage to incapacitate them.
What's funny about that these buffoon-like criminals, is that they have the appearance of a hardcore gang, yet they can't seem to stop one kid from interfering in their criminal enterprise. One can only imagine how Cheadle's gang handles threats like rival gangs taking over their territory. If Cheadle can't subdue a kid, what luck does he have with a gang of thugs? Check out a clip of Cheadle and his criminally inept friends getting beat down down by young Ernie Lee below:
As you can see, Cheadle and his gang are no match for the young martial artist. Ernie throws some quick kicks and Cheadle's gang is down for the count. Cheadle himself threatens Ernie, but gets thrown to the floor like a rag-doll. I think Tony Stark would be ashamed to see his friend get his ass handed to him by a kid. But in Cheadle's defense, he didn't have the War Machine armor to help him. If he had the armor, the situation might have ended quite differently. Still, the fight sequence is the least questionable thing about this whole clip.
Why Are There Gangs Inside of a Los Angeles Elementary School? Was it That Bad Back in The Day?
Everyone who's seen the clip is so enthralled at Ernie beating up Don Cheadle that they fail to realize Cheadle's gang is hanging out in an elementary school? Ernie and his friend are obviously at their school when they walk by a school bus, so Cheadle's hang just skulking around seems like something awfully specific. Still, it's cool Ernie gets to show off his karate skills at school.
Nevertheless, that beatdown is one Don Cheadle will never forget. He may not have realized at the time, but taking a beating from Ernie Reyes Jr. wound up being a major stepping stone in his career, because it eventually lead to him landing roles in hot movies like Colors and Hamburger Hill, and so on and so forth. Of course, we can't fail to give Cheadle the credit he deserves for being such an outstanding actor, and landing those roles on his own.
Avengers: Infinity War opens in theaters on May 8, 2018.