Greg (Dean Cochran) and his younger brother, Ethan (Ted Jan Roberts), are both students of a sensei (Mako) who teaches that sparing an enemy is the best way to make a friend and that true martial artists do not compete in tournaments. Greg wants more out of karate so he starts hanging out with The Scorpions, a gang led by Taylor (Corey Feldman). The Scorpions all belong to a dojo owned by Gavin (Marshall R. Teague), who teaches that mercy is a weakness. When the Scorpions aren’t beating up people at the beach, they’re “scavenging.” They break into houses and businesses, steal what they can, and claim that homeowners insurance means that they’re actually doing everyone a favor. When one robbery goes wrong, Greg tries to stop Taylor from killing a homeowner. Taylor fights back and the end result is Greg falling over a railing and dying.
The Scorpions leave Greg hanging in the high school gym. The police think that Greg committed suicide but Ethan knows that his brother would never end his own life. Ethan knows that the Scorpions are responsible. He leaves his old dojo and joins Gavin’s dojo. Ethan now has an in with the Scorpions but, if Gavin and Taylor are going to trust him enough to reveal the truth about what happened to Greg, Ethan is going to have to betray his old sensei and set up a match between the two dojos. Ethan is going to have to abandon his own peaceful principles about become as bad as the people he is trying to take down.
For a low-budget Karate Kid rip-off, A Dangerous Place is not as bad as it sounds. Some of the fight scenes are exciting, Mako is a decent stand-in for Pat Morita, and Marshall R. Teague does a passable Martin Kove impersonation as the leader of the bad dojo. Corey Feldman imitating Christian Slater imitating Jack Nicholson does eventually get old but, since Feldman is playing the bad guy here and we’re not supposed to like him, it actually works to the film’s advantage. Finally, Dick Van Patten, of all people, has a small role as the high school’s principal. Mako, Feldman, Van Patten, and karate? A Dangerous Place is dumb but entertaining.