Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, Randee Heller and William Zabka
John G. Avildsen
Out to buy on Blu-Ray 19/07/10
"Wax on, Wax off"
Moving to Los Angeles, Daniel Larusso (Macchio) knew it was going to be easy making friends and fitting in. Even when he gets invited to a beach party and meets Ali (Shue), the locals don’t take to a wisecracking kid from New Jersey who thinks he knows a little karate. Standing up for Ali against Johnny (Zabka), the leader of the local Kobra Cai karate team, was a bad idea and he ends up badly beaten up and wanting to go home. As Johnny and the Kobras continue to make his life hell, the handyman at Daniel’s new apartment steps in and saves him from another beating. Taking Daniel to the Kobra’s dojo, Mr. Miyagi (Morita) to leave him alone but their sensei John Kreese (Kove) won’t accept this so Mr. Miyagi asks for time to train Daniel for the yearly karate tournament but does he have enough time to teach Daniel the ways of karate?
When it comes to naming the classic teen movies of the 1980s most people would have a list made up of John Hughes films but there would be one that should make everyone’s list, The Karate Kid.
The 80s saw many a movie about the problems of teenage live but all had something, a reason or a change to your way of life that would allow you to grow and set you up for adulthood or just getting through the pressure of high school. Movies like ‘Pretty in Pink’, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘The Outsiders’, ‘Diner’, ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Risky Business’ all followed this principle and the kids involved all learnt a valuable life lesson but what made ‘The Karate Kid’ different is that everyone wanted to go through Daniel’s journey.
There had been many a karate and kung-fu movie make it way into Western cinema. During the 80s, Bruce Lee was still extremely popular and Asian actors like Jackie Chan were starting to gain a western following. Combining a Hollywood teenage rights-of-passage film with martial arts must of thought like a stroke of genius and the box office returns agreed. ‘The Karate Kid’ was a huge success on its release in 1984 and is still considered one of the great teen movies of the decade, even though the fashions and music have aged it.
What made ‘The Karate Kid’ so memorable was the relationship between teacher and pupil. The connection between Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi and Ralph Macchio’s Daniel Larusso is one of the closest in movie history and one that has been mimicked for decades after. Miyagi’s training methods have also been copied many times, with the famous ‘Wax On, Wax Off’ becoming part of movie history. It is the chemistry between the characters that makes the movie work however and the connection between a fatherless boy and a childless man finding friendship through karate, the master and the apprentice, that has defined cinema for a very long time. The supporting cast of a very young Elizabeth Shue as love interest Ali, William Zabka as the chief bully Johnny and a Martin Kove as the villain sensei John Kreese, make the movie what it is, all under the watchful eye of ‘Rocky’ director John G. Avildsen.
‘The Karate Kid’ may not have the best karate choreography, the soundtrack and fashions may be extremely cheesy 80s but the chemistry between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi is one of the best in cinematic history. That master and student relationship is the underpinning of the entire film and even though the plot maybe a little predictable, it is that relationship that will stay with you for many a year after.
"Beyond the Form" Featurette
Commentary with Director John G. Avildsen, Writer Robert Mark Kamen and Actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita
"East Meets West: A Composer's Notebook"
"Life of Bonsai" Featurette
"The Way of the Karate Kid" Multi-Part "Making of" Featurette
Blu-Pop (TM): Activate the exclusive Blu-pop feature to reveal pop up trivia, interviews and more secrets from the film!
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