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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Karate Kid - 1984

I first viewed this movie around the age of six or seven, it instantly became one of my all time favorite films, and held that title for quite some time. However, I recently got into a bit of Chinese cinema, and realized that Americans just don't hold onto the concept of how to properly make a martial arts film. I then decided that The Karate Kid was a decent film at best, as said in my review of "Ip Man". But what do you know? I was scanning through the television channels and saw that the 1984 version of the Karate Kid was on, and gave it go, and liked it.

Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) is moving from his hometown of New Jersey to California, leaving all of his life and friends behind for nothing but his mother's job. Daniel quickly gets on the bad side of a group of kids at school, and gets beat up. Situations like this continue to occur through the year, and Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Pat Morita) steps in to defend Daniel, and teach him to fight, where he will face his enemies in a large karate tournament. Daniel at first questions the methods of his teacher, but as their relationship strengthens, Daniel becomes an excellent martial artist with a shot at winning the title.

In short, there really aren't that many reasons as to why this film works so well, but one of the biggest things that make it click, in my opinion, is how Robert Mark Kamen works with the characters in his writing. Sure there is Daniel and his girlfriend, Daniel and his mom, but the most important part of the film is how Daniel and Mr. Miyagi become not only student and teacher, but best friends, like a father to a son. Part of the credit for this amazing accomplishment most go to the screenwriter, Kamen. Though his story and screenplay may be far too predictable for some viewers' taste, his character development is undeniably brilliant, and that is my number one reason for why The Karate Kid works as a whole.

The acting overall was a delight to watch! I am by no means a Ralph Macchio fan for a lead role, but his easy chemistry with Pat Morita makes the acting work so well, beyond what it probably should have. I have not seen many of Macchio's films, as none of them interest me at all, but here I would say he gives his career performance. The role isn't very difficult, and from the outside it may not seem that he does a great job, but he is believable, and people can relate to him, that's what matters most. Pat Morita is fantastic, though I must admit I was stunned when I recently found out for the first time that he was nominated for an Oscar. He certainly deserved it, and i'm glad to have come across that while reading up on the film. Like Macchio, the number one thing Morita has going for him is just how much the audience can believe the performance, it was incredible to watch. The rest of the supporting cast did well, but nothing to praise or criticise.

John G. Avildsen directed The Karate Kid, and did a fairly good job of it. His direction was clean, and worked very well for the type of movie this is. He may not have been trying to win an Oscar or anything, bit it definitely worked for what it was. I am not familiar with a lot of his works, but I do know he directed one of the all time greats in "Rocky", but unfortunately during the late 80s through the 90s his career drastically went down, and basically everything he made was terrible. Rocky V and the Karate Kid III being two of those films. Some directors make a few great movies, but are not particularly great directors, Avildsen is one of them.

Overall, I cannot say the Karate Kid is one of the best films I have ever seen, but I do truly enjoy watching it. It is well made, and brings back many good memories for me, which I think often times can be a large part of the movie watching experience. If you lived during its time, i'm sure you love this movie, but for younger viewers today, I don't know if I would recommend it. However, I personally really enjoyed the film as a whole. No real complaints, just a pleasure to watch.

Rating: 8/10


  1. Daniel's fighting stance always looked so goofy to me. Anyway, it's cool to see a classic underdog story shown some love. I bet this movie inspired a lot of victimized children to take up martial arts.

    Have you seen the 2010 remake? If not, I recommend giving it a try. Jaden Smith is no Ralph Macchio but Jackie Chan rivals Pat Morita's performance as the wise old master. The fighting sequences aren't too shabby either.

  2. Unfortunately I have, and also have an unpopular opinion on the movie. I hated it and thought they changed too much. But you're right, Jackie Chan did do a good job. Thanks for reading!

  3. wow man that's similar to me! =D I fell in love with this around the same age and have loved it since. It's a great film and so is your review! Well done matt!

  4. Sweet! It is definitely a film full of memories for me. Thanks!