Hassled by the school bullies, Daniel LaRusso has his share of adolescent woes. Luckily, his apartment building houses a resident martial arts master: Kesuke Miyagi, who agrees to train Daniel ... and ends up teaching him much more than self-defense. Armed with newfound confidence, skill and wisdom, Daniel ultimately faces off against his tormentors in this hugely popular classic underdog tale.
The Karocky Kid. The Karate Kid is directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen. It stars Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita (Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor) and Elisabeth Shue. Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) moves with his mother (Randee Heller) from Newark, New Jersey to Reseda, a neighbourhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. Pretty much from the off Daniel finds he doesn't belong and quickly incurs the wrath of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) who is the ex-boyfriend of the only person Daniel has connected with; Ali Mills (Shue). Not good since Johnny is an ace karate student from the Cobra Kai dojo, a place where the students are taught winning is everything by tough ex-forces sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove). But salvation and a stop to the beatings at the hands of Lawrence and his bully loving friends may come in the form of the quirky but kind handyman at the apartment complex; Mr. Miyagi (Morita). In 1976 John G. Avildsen had directed one of the most loved of all the underdog comes good movies, Rocky. Fast forward to 1984 and we find Avildsen treading on the same turf, only for a younger audience. What was to follow would be a monster hit movie (it made over $90 million domestically alone), that spawned three sequels, a remake, pop culture bonanza and more telling; got karate back in the headlines some 11 years after the tragic death of Bruce Lee. Its appeal is not hard to fathom, geeky young guy gets beat up on by some suspiciously Aryan bully types, forms a wonderful and warm friendship with sage old Chinaman, becomes a karate hero after being tutored in an unorthodox manner by kindly Chinaman, then kicks Aryan dudes butt. What's not to like there? Hell us young men even had the all American cutie pie looks of Shue (she was 21 at the time and Macchio 23) to admire as we joined Daniel in chopping, kicking and falling on our asses as we tried the famous "Crane Kick". Sure some of it looks creaky now, but it's creakiness with an 80s charm that still engages today. So lets get waxing on and waxing off and relieve the moment when we all cheered at the climax of this simple, yet utterly beguiling movie. 8/10
***Reverent and emotionally potent coming-of-age/sports flick*** A boy (Ralph Macchio) moves with his mother from New Jersey to Los Angeles, but isn’t welcomed by the Cobra Kai gang at school, led by bully Johnny (William Zabka). But Daniel (Macchio) finds a potential girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue) and a ‘golden connection’ with a Japanese American who’s willing to teach him the art of karate (Pat Morita). Everything leads to Daniel facing off with Johnny at a tournament. Martin Kove is on hand as the sensei dripping with villainy. “The Karate Kid” (1984) is a product of its time, the early/mid 80s, and is unrepentant about it. A long sequence featuring Bananarama’s "Cruel Summer” tells all. Speaking of which, that’s a great school scene. There’s something about this flick that always moves me; it has heart. It’s about the love of a teenager and his mother; the love of a boy and a girl; and the fatherly love of a harassed new kid on the block and a wise old Asian man. It’s also about facing hefty challenges and learning to overcome them. There’s a reverent quality and the proceedings ring true, except maybe for the campiness of the uber-machismo sensei, although that’s entertaining. Winsome Shue shines on the female front wherein the movie scores well with several peripheral notables and even Daniel’s warmly spirited mother (Randee Heller). The film runs 2 hours, 6 minutes and was shot in the Los Angeles area. GRADE: A-