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A lot of posts focus on the 'coming of age' aspect of this movie, but
the very overlooked part is the role it played in helping to alleviate
many of the stereotypes a very Asian phobic America was after WWII,
Korea and Vietnam.
They make a point of showing Miyagi in a US Army Uniform--and a War Hero-- and makes references to detention camps Miyagi's family was sent to (a horribly dark period in American history)...where Miyagi's wife was being sent (pregnant) and where she and his unborn child (son) ultimately die during childbirth. There are also a few scenes in which ethnic slurs are used by rednecks toward Miyagi.
Taking this into light, and taking the fact that Daniel has no father that we know of in this movie, the name Daniel-san (sounds like Daniel-SON) helps demonstrate a father son bond that is overlooked. Much of the conversation between Daniel and Miyagi is about Miyagi's great father in Okinawa, because Miyagi has acquired all this knowledge and wants to share it. Daniel substitutes for the son Miyagi never had and Miyagi substitutes for the father Daniel doesn't have.
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
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.
This is a classic coming of age story. A story about a boy who has to face his fears, girls, and moving to a new environment. Daniel, who is a big up stater, clashes with the rich people of the Cali high life and learns that not all people are who they seem. The Kobra Cai, as they are called in the film, bully Daniel and Daniel just seems like he has no choice but to take revenge. So he learns the next best thing--KARATE. Even though he has no idea what hes doing. He goes with the flow. Mr. Mayagi teaches him respect, discipline, and anyone can over come their fears. This is one of the best films of the 80's. It even has classic names of the 80's, like Johnny, Daniel, Tommy, and my favorite, Bobby. So if you don't have anything better to do, then check out Karate Kid. You might even learn a thing or two about a thing or two.
"The Karate Kid" is the tale of Daniel Laruso (Ralph Macchio), a young
who, on the heels of his mother's finding a new job, is uprooted from
Newark, New Jersey, to the sunny shores of California. Daniel's mother
visions of a new start, a new life with the sky as the limit. Daniel,
however, quickly finds that, for him, the West Coast holds nothing but
With the comforts of his rough, middle-class neighborhood thousands of miles away, Daniel tries to make friends and blend with the well-to-do, upper-class kids in his new home. At first, Daniel seems to do alright but, before long, he crosses paths with Johnny (William Zabka), the tough, rich leader of a group of karate students who attends Daniel's new school. To make matters worse, Johnny is the ex-boyfriend of Ali (Elisabeth Shue), a girl Daniel is pursuing.
Enter Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita), an aging handy-man who works at Daniel's apartment building. Struggling for friends and failing to fit in, Daniel finds support in Miyagi. After enduring several beatings at the hands of Johnny and his gang, Daniel comes to learn that Miyagi, in fact, knows karate. Following a vain attempt to speak with Johnny's karate teacher (Martin Kove) about being left alone, Daniel is suddenly entered into the All-Valley Karate Tournament, where he will attempt to win the respect that Johnny and his gang have taken.
As he trains for the karate tournament with Miyagi, Daniel learns invaluable lessons about life and love. And brought to the foreground of this karate story is Daniel's pursuit of Ali, who truly is the single person who gave the new kid a chance.
On many levels, "The Karate Kid" is an uplifting movie. It illustrates how a lonely, out-of-place kid triumphs against the odds, and the movie doesn't need computer-animation or special effects to get its story across. But, for me and anyone who loves '80s movies, the "The Karate Kid" has to be appreciated for its nostalgia trip back to "better times." For that reason alone, this movie is a classic.
I've enjoyed few movies, if any, more than "The Karate Kid." I highly recommend this flick to anyone who loves a touching, uplifting story, or to anyone who simply can't get out of the '80s!!!
I being a child of the 80's have a soft spot for this movie. Yes it is predictable,but what makes it a great movie is the performances by the 2 main characters. Ralph Macchio is great as a teenager that is bullied at his new school. But the movie belongs to Pat Morita as Mr. Myagi. He plays an old apartment maintenance man that befriends Macchio. He becomes his karate teacher, but they develop a great friendship that makes the movie all the more enjoyable. The great thing is that the movie shows that the old man comes to need the kid as much as the kid needs him, it is a touching relationship. All the rest is standard Rocky film stuff, but what Rocky and this film have in common is that the characters are people we care for, so all the climactic scene stuff works.
While John Hughs' films may be the standard for teen flicks in the 1980s, Hughs' films were just a few of the great and unique teen films to be released in that decade. Coupled with Back to the Future, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, the 80s was a rather unique time for teen movies. The Karate Kid just happened to be another one of those films. With the immortal Pat Morita leading the way, this film was not only touching, but put a whole new spin on the `zero-to-hero' story line which we have all seen too often. Ralph Macchio may have had no career after these film, but at least he proved to be comparable as Daniel (san). Sure, the ending and outcome proved to be a little predictable, but the film was still a winner.
Metaphorically speaking, the late Pat Morita is the real life Daniel-san. Mr. Morita was humbled by the following incidents in his life: interned during WWI, suffered from a weak spine, short in stature and a stereotypical Japanese, nicknamed "Hip Nip" and casted for mainly comically roles in American TV and cinema. As if through divine intervention, the role of Mr. Miyagi was created, a natural and defining role for Pat Morita. Like the main character Daniel-san, who earned dignity and respect through karate, so too did Pat Morita earn dignity and respect as an actor for his role as Mr. Miyagi. The Miyagi character is a humble, soft-spoken, respected, Asian sensei (teacher.) He is humble not because he is weak and avoids being some bully's victim, but because he knows he holds the fate of all who bullies him in his hands. So it was that Pat Morita finally achieved through the character of Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid series what Daniel-san always gains at the end of each movie: dignity, respect, and honor to compensate for all the times of abuse, suffering, and humiliation.
The Karate Kid is a wonderful film that tells the classic story of good
vs. evil. Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is obviously the good, along
with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). The bad is the dojo of the Cobra Kai, led
by the dangerous Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). The feud between
Lawrence and LaRusso is well-scripted and executed, as is the feud
between Miyagi and Cobra Kai Sensei, Kreese.
This is the definitely the best film out of the four Karate Kid movies. I grew up as a really big fan of these fans and I'm glad they finally released the DVD set. I've searched the internet looking for good articles about the films and there's a very funny article by humorist Rob Bloom about Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso on Rob Bloom's website.
These movies are very entertaining (even #4) and definitely are required viewing for anybody who believes that the underdog can win in the end.
Having a man teach you a valuable art such as that of Karate, is
especially if you are young, inexperienced and in a battle with people who
you have no hope against. However viewers of the 'Karate Kid' get to learn
valuable lesson for life out of this story, that fighting is a waste of
time, and with time and patience anything can be achieved. In addition
viewers get to hear the cute pronunciation of `Daniel-san' by the great
Fatherless teenager Daniel is a new arrival in Los Angeles when he becomes the object of bullying by the Cobras, a menacing group of Karate students. Daniel asks his handyman Miyagi, whom is a martial arts master, to teach him how to fight. Miyagi teaches Daniel that karate is mastery over the self - mind and body - and that violence is always the last answer to a problem. Under Miyagi's guidance, Daniel learns the physical skills while gaining faith and the self-confidence to compete against the odds as he faces the fight of his life in the exciting finale.
I remember watching this film along time ago, but boy was it a thrill. Sure it didn't have 'big stars' or big action in it. One thing it did have was 'heart'. The character of Daniel was one person that typifies this. At no stage does this teenage loner from New Jersey ever give up, when at times that might have been the best thing for him to do. I feel that this story and character for that matter, is how we need to approach our own lives, because if you keep putting in the hard yards and stand-up for what you believe in, things will soon turn around.
The stars of this movie are not bad. Firstly main star Ralph Macchio was excellent as Daniel. I felt he brought the struggling teenage character to the screen perfectly. He is a very naïve and inexperienced young man, yet with time and patience he makes what was a terrible situation seem nothing big at all. I enjoyed Macchio in other movies including 'The three wishes of Billy Greer', a movie which again suited this tough actor, about a young man who is dying from premature aging, in addition to movies such as 'The last POW? The Bobby Garwood Story'. I cannot praise Macchio any higher.
Other stars are just as worthy. Pat Morita was wonderful as the wise and what I feel was the humorous `Miyagi'. His role was just as good as his counterpart Macchio, yet it was also very different. Miyagi is one person that does not like the spotlight, yet when his young friend is placed in a very precarious position in his new home town, he steps in and shows what a great Karate man he really is. Then you have the other side of this story, which of course has to have a girl in it, with Daniel striking up a relationship with the popular Ali Mills. Actress Elizabeth Shue, who has also had a somewhat 'celebrated' career, played Ali. She has starred in films such as the controversial 'Leaving Los Vegas', 'Back to the future II' and 'III' and the 1988 hit 'Cocktail'. Though there are times that you expect Daniel to never make it with Ali, in the end he does have a faithful person outside of Miyagi.
The bad guys are not bad in this film either, with that part of the cast including Martin Kove as the arrogant Karate Teacher John Kreese, who will stop at nothing to see the end of the fairytale of LaRusso and Miyagi. His main student and the person who wants Daniel's blood the most is Johnny Lawrence played by William Zabka, and although he has not go on to big and better roles, his bad guy role was enjoyable in the Karate Kid. I did read in one review on IMDb where a person claimed that the bad guys were not given enough of their own treatment. However I disagree, considering the bullying and beatings that Daniel receives, I feel that Daniel and Miyagi teach the 'Cobras' a lesson. Sure we don't get to see Kreese get what he deserves, but if you have not seen the second Karate Kid, then you will get to see what awaits this cruel and relentless individual.
The Karate lessons and fighting sequences in this film are incredible. I guess like Daniel, most of the fans of this film would assume that Daniel is not learning anything, yet being Miyagi's personal slave. However we get to see how intelligent this old Okinawa man is, through all of his work for Daniel he teaches him some very basic and vital Karate moves. I love the attitude that this movie brings to everyone, that fighting is the last option for any situation, whether it is verbal or physical. I think this is so true, as fighting gets people nowhere. It just makes life bad for both parties, again this movie shows this to be so true.
In conclusion, the Karate Kid is a truly great film, but perhaps I am showing what era that I grew up in? I cannot say that I totally agree with Karate, as it is a very Chinese practice, but if it is based around what Miyagi teaches, that is for self-defence, and then it might be ok. I am sure many moviegoers will never forget the finale to this movie, because I am sure I never will. The sequels which follow slowly start to lose there appeal with this story, but not to matter, if you are looking for a story which shows you that giving up is not really an option, then see what is so special about this story of a courageous Karate student and his clever teacher!
CMRS gives 'The Karate Kid': 5 (Brilliant Film)
This movie will perhaps be remembered as the best martial arts movie ever made. Movies of this genre are usually more concerned with action scenes that the stories tend to be poor and appeal to the audience on a short run. With the exception of Kurosawa's films, the Karate Kid is perhaps one of the best and most popular martial arts movies ever. Ralph Macchio, who is also good in "the Outsiders," does a fine portrayal of the novice, frustrated Daniel Larusso (he was 23 years old when he made this film??). Equally superb is the wise and "cool-as-a-cucumber" Mr. Miyagi, played by Pat Morita. Once again, John G. Avildsen has directed a film that glorifies the fiesty nature of underdogs. This is the "Rocky" movie of the 80's.
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