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Movie Review: The Karate Kid

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Originally released in 1984, The Karate Kid took the nation by storm. A true summer blockbuster, The Karate Kid capitalized on the traditional teen romantic comedy genre with the addition of martial arts action sequences. No doubt, the film was responsible for a countless number of kids joining up to take martial arts classes. But more importantly, The Karate Kid is fun and entertaining family film.

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and his mother Lucille (Randee Heller) move to California from New Jersey, where Daniel has a difficult time making new friends. Striking up a romantic friendship with Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), a rich girl who previously dated the popular Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), he incurs Johnny's envious wrath. When Daniel is about to get beat up yet again, the super at the apartment building where he lives, a Japanese immigrant named Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita), steps in and beats up Johnny and his friends. Mystified, Daniel learns that Mr. Miyagi is a martial arts expert. He begs to become an understudy, and Mr. Miyagi reluctantly agrees.

Following several weeks of training and conditioning which Daniel doesn't understand (waxing cars and painting houses), he's ready to quit. But Mr. Miyagi reveals the depth of the effect the training has had on Daniel's skills as a martial artist. With Johnny and his Cobra Kai friends continually threatening Daniel, Mr. Miyagi strikes a deal with Cobra Kai Sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove). Kreese agrees that his students will not lay a hand on Daniel until after the upcoming All-Valley Karate Championship. At the championship, the foes will decide their dispute once and for all… Will Daniel finally get the bullies off his back? Will he win the girl in the end? The Karate Kid has all the elements of a smash hit.

More than any other, the true star of The Karate Kid is Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) whose grandfatherly ways and deadly fighting abilities earned him a place within the hearts of movie viewers around the world. Exhibiting all the characteristics of a noble individual, Miyagi is a throw back to the idyllic days of knights and chivalry. Taking the young LaRusso under his wing, the two form a bond that transcends age and race, and when Daniel overcomes the obstacles in his young life, Mr. Miyagi is there to smile.

A masterpiece of the 1980s teen drama, The Karate Kid penetrated pop culture with its "sand on, sand off" catch phrases and kids imitating the "crane kick." Although not in the same category as Academy Award winning dramas, The Karate Kid nevertheless holds its own as good, clean entertainment the entire family can enjoy. All those countless movie viewers can't be wrong, can they? Because of its original screenplay and infusion into the American pop culture, The Karate Kid is a definite must-see movie.

Britt's Rating: 8.2/10

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About Britt Gillette

  • Watch The movie!

    Umm, it’s wax on, wax off!! Did you watch the movie?

    Geez!