Anthony's Film Review
The Karate Kid (1984)
The teen drama and the martial arts drama complement each other quite well here...
As suggested by its title, The Karate Kid is a martial arts movie. However, it's not only that. It's also a movie about a boy going through life as a young adolescent. Specifically, this is a boy who meets a lovely girl but also gets bullied by her ex-boyfriend. Learning karate becomes a solution to the harassment issue, as well as building confidence for success in life. The movie switches between the human drama and the martial arts drama until the two plotlines blur and practically fuse into one. Therefore, The Karate Kid can be described in an even simpler way: as a coming-of-age story.
The title character, played by Ralph Macchio, is a kid named Daniel, a New Jersey boy who moves to California with his mother. The boy's mentor is Mr. Miyagi (played memorably by Pat Morita), who works as a maintenance man at the apartment complex where Daniel now lives. Daniel's initial meeting with Miyagi is purely related to a request to fix a kitchen sink, but later, Miyagi willingly trains Daniel in karate after a painful encounter with bullies. Another character who keeps Daniel's spirits high is a pretty girl at school named Ali, pronounced "Allie." Elisabeth Shue plays this character with charm and grace, making her easily likable in Daniel's eyes.
While every scene is great to watch, the best scenes in the movie are all about the relationship between Daniel and Miyagi. Over time, it evolves from teacher-student to friend-friend and, ultimately, father-son. While Miyagi is a martial arts master, he's not the stereotypical kind who spends most of his time meditating in a temple or similar setting. In fact, even his teaching methods are unconventional, mainly involving Daniel doing chores like waxing cars and painting fences. But in the end, you can see how brilliant these indirect teaching methods are, because Daniel is learning patience, discipline, endurance, and basic karate moves without actually realizing it. With this kind of way to teach karate, Miyagi can even leave to go fishing while Daniel is alone doing karate training disguised as work.
Since the source of conflict in this story comes from the bullies, it is natural for the audience to root for Daniel to win, especially during the karate tournament in the film's climax. And especially with the bullies being taught martial arts for the wrong reasons. At one point, Miyagi points out that if a student does not learn, the teacher is to blame. That's definitely true here, because the bullies' martial arts instructor is a former U.S. marine who teaches aggression and force in combat, the opposite of Miyagi's philosophy of fighting purely for defense. Once you see this guy for the first time, you cannot help but hope that Daniel does not surrender to this guy or his students.
For all of the reasons stated above, The Karate Kid is a movie that one cannot forget. It's a memorable entry among 80s movies, high school movies, and martial arts movies. The film is moving, exciting, and ultimately inspiring. And the cast is wonderful, especially Pat Morita who does a nice job playing a man with heart and wisdom. Overall, The Karate Kid is a winner that will leave you smiling once it ends.
For more information about The Karate Kid, visit the Internet Movie Database.