The scientist father of a teenage girl and boy accidentally shrinks his and two other neighborhood teens to the size of insects. Now the teens must fight diminutive dangers as the father searches for them.
Daniel and his mother move from New Jersey to California. She has a wonderful new job, but Daniel quickly discovers that a dark haired Italian boy with a Jersey accent doesn't fit into the blond surfer crowd. Daniel manages to talk his way out of some fights, but he is finally cornered by several who belong to the same karate school. As Daniel is passing out from the beating he sees Miyagi, the elderly gardener leaps into the fray and save him by outfighting half a dozen teenagers. Miyagi and Daniel soon find out the real motivator behind the boys' violent attitude in the form of their karate teacher. Miyagi promises to teach Daniel karate and arranges a fight at the all-valley tournament some months off. When his training begins, Daniel doesn't understand what he is being shown. Miyagi seems more interested in having Daniel paint fences and wax cars than teaching him Karate. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
My love of "The Karate Kid" is limited to the fact that this movie, if it had been in the hands of a more fluorescent director, could have turned out a lot differently from the movie we all know and love from 1984.
Directed by John G. Avildsen (who also did 1976's "Rocky" - another underdog story) and written by Robert Mark Kamen (who would later co-author 2001's "Kiss of the Dragon" with Luc Besson, which starred Jet Li - another example of martial arts in American cinema done right), "The Karate Kid" is by far the best (and frankly, most realistic) incorporation of martial arts into a mainstream American film.
This movie came out the year before I was born, and only through word-of-mouth over the time I was growing up, did I know that "The Karate Kid" even existed. I got to view the film my freshman year in high school as part of a class, but the instructor watered down the experience so much that the movie lost its potency.
Now a few years later, I finally watch the movie without any intrusion from the outside world and I find a truly marvelous picture that's far better than its many stylized contemporaries, i.e. "The Matrix" trilogy, which is the best example of that trend.
Ralph Macchio stars as Daniel LaRusso, a new kid to a picturesque southern California community that looks a lot like something you'd see in a magazine advertisement. Daniel makes the mistake of hitting on Ali (Elisabeth Shue), who unknown to him, is the ex-girlfriend of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and Daniel takes a pretty brutal beating from the martial arts-trained Johnny, that leaves him scarred but with his pride and dignity still in tact.
The number of violent clashes with Johnny and his brutal Cobra Kai martial arts friends continue, until Daniel is saved by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the karate-trained handyman of his apartment building. Daniel insists on Mr. Miyagi teaching him karate, so that he can compete in an upcoming martial arts tournament; this requires Daniel to undergo some pretty unconventional training - "wax on, wax off; paint fence - side to side" etc. And in return, Daniel learns that there's a lot more to karate than just fighting and the "Old One" shows him that way.
"The Karate Kid" is a true gem of a film that's shamefully underrated. I'm glad that on February 1st of this year, this movie is finally getting the DVD treatment it deserves.
Macchio is convincing as Daniel, bringing a number of wide-ranging emotions to his role that at first may seem quite perfunctory as opposed to being dramatic. The real star of the show (at least in the minds of a number of critics, and the Academy), is Morita as Mr. Miyagi. He brings grace (almost rivaling Bruce Lee) to a role that could have been quite stereotypical, but is still very moving and dramatic.
Of course, what's a movie about karate without the fights? I should note that the action in this movie is very convincing, but is not stylized in any fashion, shape or form. It is very down-to-earth and realistic, and that may of course be a bit of a turn-off to some hardcore fanboys that may watch this movie thinking it'll be something like "The Matrix" (1999) or "Enter the Dragon" (1973).
The fighting here is in its own style and mode of action. A number of the fights are quite brutal, especially in the ones where John Kreese's (Martin Kove) Cobra Kai students are featured, as he frequently trains them the brutal way of "no mercy," which Mr. Miyagi is quick to realize is not the way of karate.
"The Karate Kid" gets a perfect 10/10.
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