The Karate Kid (1984)

May 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

A friend of mine recently asked me to watch the remake of The Karate Kid. So I figured I would go back and watch the original. It has been a while since I last watched the movie so I thought I would take a look at it with fresh eyes before viewing the new one. Invariably, I will draw comparisons between to two, like anyone would when viewing a remake.

The Karate Kid is about Daniel LaRusso, a young kid of New Jersey who moves to California with his single mom. He finds a fellow group of Italian Americans to hang out with and things seem to be going pretty well until he meets Ali down at the beach. Ali isn’t the problem though, the problem is her ex-boyfriend Johnny. Johnny knows karate and is all too willing to use it to beat up anyone he sees.  Backed up by his karate gang, The Cobra Kai, Johnny bullies Danny and drives a wedge between him and Ali.  Daniel gets saved from a beating by Mr. Miyagi. Daniel asks Mr. Miyagi to teach him karate, which he does by having Daniel-san do house work for him. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi challenge The Cobra Kai to face each other at a local karate tournament to settle the score. Spoiler Alert: Daniel wins in the end after a hard fight.

First thing I noticed is how long this movie is. The Karate Kid is a fairly standard sports movie. Structurally, its as simple as you can get. New kid in town gets bullied then learns how to fight back and gets the girl in the end. It doesn’t really need to be as long as it is. A lot of this movie involves establishing the characters, their relationship between each other, and how their relationship evolves throughout the movie. I think they did a good job of making Daniel a likable character. Daniel getting bullied in the beginning can get a little long. They beat him up like four times before he gets saved by Mr. Miyagi, whom we previously only saw as a friendly handy man. I really like how unassuming Mr. Miyagi seems. He was very much like Yoda in Star Wars. I also enjoyed how he didn’t just teach Daniel how to fight but pointed out that martial arts was more about the mental than the physical. Also he taught Daniel a lot about philosophy and helped him grow up a lot.

If I have a complaint about The Karate Kid, it’s how cartoonish the villains are. They are the biggest jerks and enjoy every second of it. Especially the guy who runs the Cobra Kai dojo. He gets such joy out of abusing his students and teach them to be merciless. He even encourages one of his students to take a dirty shot at Daniel in the semi-final round to take him out of the tournament. In one of the few human moments the villains show, the kid who nearly breaks Daniel’s leg immediately apologizes, feels incredible guilt, and is the first person to congratulate him when he wins. Other than that, they are just plain mean for the sake of being mean. Even after they have beaten Daniel into submission early in the movie, they can’t resist the urge to run him off the road while he rides a bike and they have motorcycles.

One more thing that must be noted about this movie is it’s soundtrack. This movie could easily be considered a musical. There are so many musical montages and music is used often to set mood. So many of the songs are easily identifiable 80’s classics. I feel like they made good use out of the songs although they can get distracting at times.

Overall, if you haven’t seen this movie, you really should watch it sometime. It’s a well made and entertaining movie. It’s not exceptional but The Karate Kid does everything it set out to do. The acting, writing, cinematography are all good. It’s better than most of the movies I review on here and well worth watching.

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Entry filed under: Sports.

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