The Karate Kid (1984)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 70%
Overall Rating
Ranked #693
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Connections: The Karate Kid

Daniel is new in town, and is getting picked on by the local bullies, who all are adept in karate. Determined to stick up for himself, Daniel begins to teach himself karate, only to discover that the caretaker at his apartment seems to be a grand master in karate. Agreeing to teach Daniel, Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel that there is more to karate than violence, and perhaps the best way to solve the problem he has with the bullies is in the All Valley Karate Championship. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 04, 2007
"Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?"

These words are spoken about halfway through "The Karate Kid", as the wise old Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) tries to teach his new student, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) some disciplines. You see, Daniel's the new kid in town and some of the local bullies, who also happen to be members of the notorious Cobra Kai karate team, seem to want to give him a hard time, and by hard time I mean beat him black and blue. Daniel also has a crush on Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), and even dresses up like a shower to impress her. How's that for creativity.

This film is about the friendship forged between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, as the old man teaches the boy not only about karate but also about strength, resilience and courage. Miyagi makes Daniel perform a variety of chores, from washing his vintage automobiles to painting his fence. These chores seem pointless, at first, but then Miyagi shows that everything Daniel does has meaning, no matter how trivial or mundane. "The Karate Kid" is a film about many subjects -- friendship, loyalty, trust. Miyagi becomes a father figure to Daniel and takes him under his wing, only getting violent when it is a last resort. And, even when he does, it's very methodical and to the point. This film doesn't encourage violence -- it encourages the abstinence of it.

The late great Pat Morita received an Oscar nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mr. Miyagi, and it was very much deserved. He creates one of the most likable and memorable characters in film history, and takes Mr. Miyagi on an emotional journey of his own. Morita goes through a plethora of emotions in this film and really shows how gifted an actor he really was. Ralph Macchio also strikes all the right notes as Daniel, showing us just enough teen angst and youthful exuberance. The showdown at the end between Daniel and the Cobra Kai team is perfectly executed -- what else would you expect from the guy who directed "Rocky"?

This is one of those 1980's films that has not fallen into the trap of being classified as an 80's film. It's just a good film. Sure, it has some cheesy hair band music and the clothing styles are a little out there, but "The Karate Kid" is a lot deeper than most films of that time period. It also performed very well at the box office, and the sequel did even better than the original. "The Karate Kid" introduces us all to 'wax on, wax off' -- it showed us how to catch flies with chopsticks and how some crazy Asian men give away classic cars to kids on their birthdays. It showed us that a shower is a perfect Halloween costume and nothing can stop a bad ass crane. "The Karate Kid" is one of my favorite films of all-time for a reason -- it's just really, really good.

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