Screening New Gladiator

It's obvious Elvis is a hot item at the moment, the Observer had an article on the first screening of this DVD last Sunday, Andrew Hearn sent it to us, so you can read it on-line. Revealed: Elvis, the king of karate Vanessa Thorpe, arts correspondent Sunday March 11, 2001 The Observer He was the King of Rock 'n' Roll. But he now turns out to have been the king of karate too. A long-lost documentary made by Elvis Presley which is to have its world premiere next month will astonish many fans by revealing him to have been a highly-trained grand master of the Japanese martial art. The international interest in the film is likely to come as something of a shock to elderly residents of Worthing, the British seaside town chosen for the premiere. The New Gladiator was shot three years before Presley's death in 1977, yet it shows the singer in prime physical condition, disproving the commonly-held belief that his health had deteriorated badly by then. He is shown performing perfect Kenpo karate self-defence techniques, involving gouging out eyes, breaking noses and disarming attackers. His agility proves that 'the king' had attained the high levels of proficiency in the sport that he had claimed. This has always been disputed by biographers who, until now, have almost universally described him as a mere dabbler in the martial arts. The original footage, which has been brought to this country by Presley's former karate partner, Wayne Carman, makes it clear that the star was an expert who took pleasure in teaching others. 'Elvis was an eighth-degree black belt in karate,' said Andrew Hearn, editor of the fanzine Essential Elvis , who is to stage the first public screening of The New Gladiator . 'It is a privilege for me to bring this unseen film to fans. It shows just how serious about karate he really was.' The extraordinary documentary-style excerpt lasts 22 minutes and features Presley teaching a karate class. He jokes with students who ask him how to handle an assailant who holds a gun to your head. Presley prepares an elaborate manoeuvre, then simply drops to his knees, as though in prayer. 'Not even grand master can dodge bullet. Old Chinese Proverb,' he quips. Carman, who was the United States karate champion in 1973 and appears with Presley in The New Gladiator , bought the discarded film from a private museum in Branson, Missouri, four years ago as soon as he realised what it was. So far he has only shown it to friends and, most recently, to Hearn when they met in America. 'There is one other copy of the film which was made out of courtesy for the Presley family,' said Hearn. 'The Graceland Estate has never released it or shown it.' Presley decided to make the film at a time when martial arts were still viewed with suspicion. Hearn and Carman believe he wanted to spread the word about karate, as well as to star in and narrate the film, to have been shot near his Memphis home. 'Elvis was a great martial artist with 15 years' training,' Carman told The Observer . 'He told me he wanted to make this documentary to show people how important karate was. In 1973 and 1974 his health was up and down - he was crash-dieting - but people can see he was still in great shape. 'It has been a project of mine to bring this film to the public somehow ever since I found it.' Carman, 51, recalls that after about only half an hour on the first day of filming, the star was called away and the project was never completed. 'It's never been screened before,' said Hearn. 'It was originally 25 minutes long, but Warner Brothers wanted three minutes, so they cut it off the reel and it's still missing.' The film will be shown on a screen only 8ft tall at the Empress Suite, Worthing, on 28 April. ElvisNews.com thanks Andrew for sending us this article.
Source: Magazines: Essential Elvis / Updated: Mar 13, 2001 
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