Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Blake Foster, Blue Power Ranger

I wrote this article for www.worldblackbelt.com, a website founded by Bob Wall.

Arnold Howard

Among Blake Foster’s collection of movie memorabilia is the blue Power Rangers costume he wore in “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.” It is carefully framed and preserved. As one views the costume, the “Go Go Power Rangers!” theme song filters through the mind.

The costume represents a boy living his dream. Years before Blake wore the real Power Ranger costume, he donned the toy store versions. Each Halloween, he was a different Power Ranger, leaping through the air imitating his action heroes.

Blake became the blue Power Ranger at age 11 ½ when director Shuky Levi chose him to star in “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.”
“The first time he saw Jason Frank, Blake’s eyes popped out of his head,” reminisces Blake’s mother, Pat.

“When I used to watch the Power Rangers, I always wondered how they did the special effects with the monsters,” says Blake. “When I got to work on camera, I was surprised when I found out that the monsters were really just small toys.” Blake remained the blue ranger for two ½ years through 52 TV Power Ranger episodes.

Living his dream as a real Power Ranger, with a real costume, real helmet, and real morpher, came with a price, Blake discovered. At school, some of the boys were jealous of his stardom. They called him “Spandex Boy” and yelled “Shift into turbo, you blue Power Ranger fag!” By the age of 14, Blake left one school because of his fights with bullies.

At a Las Vegas karate tournament, while competitors lined up, a bigger kid told him, “So you’re the blue Power Ranger.” Blake nodded. The kid said with a sneer, “I’m gonna make you eat the mat!” and spat upon Blake. Later, the two faced each other in competition. The bigger kid charged in. Blake dropped him with a sidekick. The belligerent was in tears at the end of the match. Blake felt bad that he had hurt the boy but was glad he had won.

Though no one knew it at the time, Blake began training for his Power Rangers role at age 4 ½, when he took up karate. He comes from a martial arts family. His parents, John and Pat, are both black belts. His sister Callie is a yellow belt.

At age five, Blake entered his first karate tournament. By age 14, he had collected 134 sparring trophies. “I attribute Blake’s success in acting to the martial arts,” says his mother. “It gave him the confidence to audition in front of people. He’s been testing for belts since he was five. By testing, you learn to deal with the fear.”

“Blake is the most disciplined actor I have ever worked with,” says Dale Bradley, director of the new movie “Kids’ World.” Perhaps Blake learned his work ethic through karate. His karate teacher, Tom Bloom, emphasizes old-school discipline. If instructor Bloom sees a student scratching his nose while at attention, the whole class does push-ups.

Blake passed his black belt test at age 13 under Tom Bloom. It was a grueling nine-hour, two-day test that included a five-mile run. The first time he took the test, Blake failed. He was so disappointed that he cried when he and his family went home. But he grew from the experience. He took the test again five months later and passed.

Tom Bloom is Blake’s role model and hero. “I’ve looked up to him all these years,” says Blake.

“Master Bloom is a good role model. He never speaks ill of anyone,” says Blake’s mother. Giving Tom a mother’s highest compliment, she adds, “I want my son to grow up to be like him.”

Blake’s karate teacher and parents have worked hard to teach him the higher ideals of the martial arts. They taught him to fight only as a last resort; to show respect; and to be a giver, not a taker. Consequently, Blake is co-chair in the Children’s Dance Outreach. He speaks for DARE and Kids with a Cause. And he helped found National Safe Kids Campaign. When he was a Power Ranger, he performed a rap song to audiences: “To be a Power Ranger is not an easy task. You must work hard and stay in class. Say no to drugs and yes to school, and you can grow up to be a Ranger too.”

Though Blake’s most famous role is the blue Power Ranger, he has also acted in a long string of movies and TV shows. He stars in “Kids’ World,” his newest movie, to be released in October. It is the story of kids who wish away all parents. In the end, they realize that they need their parents’ orderly world. A kids’ world of pure fun, it turns out, is not what kids would imagine.

In one “Kids’ World” scene, Blake rides a bicycle with an army tank lumbering after him. The scene calls for Blake to fall down and let the tank drive over him. In his dressing room, he told his mother, “I’m not lying down for that tank!” The director agreed to have the tank roll over the stuntman instead.
In another scene, a bully chases Blake, who rides his bicycle down a pier. The brakes fail, and he plunges into the cold Pacific. Though Blake wore two wet suits under two extra sets of clothes, the water felt freezing. “You’d better get Blake out or I’m jumping in and ruining the scene!’” Blake’s mother said just as crewmen pulled Blake from the water.

Blake is a regular teenager. His life consists of more than just acting and karate. He and his family love animals. They have two white German Shepherds named Sheba and Big Boy; an English bull dog named Mac; a white parakeet is named Elvis; and a horse is named Lad.

Besides karate, Blake enjoys basketball, football, skiing, bike riding, horseback riding, and skateboarding. He somehow finds time for his Sony Play Station. His favorite TV show is “The Simpsons.” His favorite martial artist, besides his parents and karate teacher, is Jackie Chan. His favorite martial arts movies? “Without hesitation, all of Jackie Chan’s.”

Blake has worked with great actors over the years. He respects them and learns from them. But his true mentor is Tom Bloom, his karate teacher. Blake wants to make acting his lifetime career. But just as important, he wants to follow Tom’s example, living karate as a way of life and teaching it to others.

2 Comments:

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