Battle for Paradise

Release Date: No Release Date at this Time

He probably shouldn't have dipped himself in oil before handling a sword

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Professional wrestling's popularity in some parts of the world is at first glance not always easy to understand. Without researching any of the local customs of a region, the theatrical qualities of this odd dance of showmanship and athleticism would seem incongruous with the places where such exhibitions occur.

An excellent example of this is Mexico, a place where ancient acts of heroism are often retold using the storytelling device of having masked men represent/recreate the heroism and villainy of a tale. Their process is not unlike Kabuki, and that tidbit of knowledge helps explain the similar rationale behind pro wrestling's popularity in Japan.

Similarly, a region of the world which is famous for its celebrations of tribal heritage and culture is Hawaii. Not coincidentally, these islands have historically been a hotbed for pro wrestling. Promoter Peter Maivia and his wife, Lia, have been running shows for the last half century now. When Chief Peter died, Lia took over the family business and became one of the first successful female promoters in the industry. Wrestling was so much of a family business for the two that they passed the love of it down to their children. Two of them became world famous tag team wrestlers The Wild Samoans, while a daughter married an up-and-comer named Rocky Johnson.

The offspring of Johnson and the daughter of the Maivia clan, Dwayne, initially tried a different career. He graduated from the Miami Hurricane football program only to discover an NFL career was unlikely. Not all defensive linemen from Miami are able to follow the Warren Sapp career path.

After kicking around in the CFL for a while, Dwayne gave up his his first love and accepted the family business. He debuted in the WWF under the moniker of Rocky Maivia as a way to celebrate the legacies of his wrestling father and grandfather. All the while, he kept within him the history of his culture and the untold stories awaiting a Hollywood production.

After early failures as a crowd favorite, the man suddenly decided the only remaining option for his career would be to mimic one of his wrestling heroes, Ric Flair, by using his untapped charisma to make audiences hate him for being so innately cool. It was in this simple decision that his future was secured. The man born Dwayne Johnson dropped his family moniker and became simply known as The Rock. No one knew it at the time but the history of pro wrestling -and- Hollywood movie making changed that day.

No longer were wrestling parts reserved for the area of comedy relief such as Hulk Hogan had once offered, nor were wrestlers circus sideshow acts like strongman Tor Johnson. The Rock proved quickly that he was more than just a flash in the pan. His work in The Mummy Returns earned him a solo outing as The Scorpion King. Some wagging tongues suggested that he was a cheaper model of Vin Diesel, but then The Rundown was released. While not as financially successful as hoped, the movie offered a much more surprising revelation. The Rock can act.

In the period that followed the end of production, The Rock suddenly found himself receiving innumerable offers for mega-dollar deals. Spy Hunter, Be Cool and Walking Tall were all lined up, but The Rock never forgot his roots.

The Rock has chosen to celebrate his Polynesian heritage with this effort. Rather than use his grandfather's manner of embracing the culture and tradition of his people through pro wrestling re-enactments, he has instead single-handedly gotten a greenlight for a project of one of his cultural ancestors, King Kamehameha.

Amazingly, there were outcries of protest regarding this casting decision, as The Rock is not Hawiian but instead Samoan. Hereditary concerns aside, what he has chosen to do with his newfound stroke is one of those laudable feats in recent Hollywood memory.

With regards to the plot of the movie, King Kamehameha is the tribal king who unified the seven main islands under one throne. When Spanish and English explorers arrived on the islands, they were surprised to discover a well-oiled unit of government rather than a hodge-podge of feuding local rulers. This prevented all of the would-be Magellans from the divide-and-conquer strategy that proved so successful with so much of the New World.

The Rock has indicated a desire to play up Kamehameha's place in history as an advanced military tactician of his day. Don't be surprised, though, if some of the king's political savvy as a ruler who realized compromise is sometimes better than conquering plays a part in key portions of the biopic.

PS: Fun trick to impress your friends when the movie is about to be released: Kamehameha is easy to remember and spell if you look at it this way: Kame-hame-ha. As for pronunciation, well, you're on your own. I would guess those 'me' are syllables which sound like the month of May, but the Rock weighs 275 pounds. I really don't want to piss him off by teaching all of you an incorrect method. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Battle for Paradise
Main Cast Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
Director Rob Cohen
Screenwriter Greg Poirier, Karen Essex
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Battle for Paradise
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Mummy Returns, The 5/4/0168.14 72.72 3401 20035.00 20566.9 202.01 215.60 2.96
Scorpion King, The 4/19/0236.08 37.51 3444 10475.00 10475.0 90.34 93.92 2.50
Rundown, The 9/26/0318.53 18.53 3152 5880.00 5880.0 47.59 47.59 2.57



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Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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