Movie Review: The Karate Kid (1984)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1984 movie starring Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio.

Synopsis: Daniel and his mother move to California from New Jersey and he is forced to adjust to a new life on the West Coast. In addition, Daniel begins being tormented by a group of kids who study at a local karate school under the tutelage of a violent instructor who teaches them to be merciless. Seeking to stand up to the bullies, Daniel seeks help from his neighbor, Mr. Miyagi, who teaches the teenager karate so he can face the other boys in a tournament.

Who's In It?

Review

This movie has been airing on some of our movie channels, almost daily, for the past couple of weeks. And, while I did originally resist watching it for probably the dozenth time, I eventually caved in and took the time to see it again. As I did, I found I really began to appreciate just how good this movie is.

There are a couple things, in particular, I found I liked about this movie. The main one had to be the way this movie was about teaching a teenager to stand up to bullies without actually becoming one himself. As a parent, this is actually a subject I feel strongly about (I don't think bullying would be as rampant if kids weren't punished for standing up for themselves) and, if nothing else, this movie was a nice reminder of how our attitude toward the subject used to be different.

Another thing I found I liked about this movie was the way the characters were given much more depth than you would originally expect.

For example, the main bully in this movie, Johnny (William Zabka) is portrayed as a real jerk early on. But, as the film progresses and his relationship with his martial arts instructor (Kove) comes to light, it's also somewhat easy to understand why he is the way he is and feel a bit sorry for him too.

Probably the only thing I really don't like about this movie is Daniel's (Macchio) relationship with his mom (Heller). Maybe it's just me, but I always thought she came off as being a bit uncaring when it came to her son. Yes, there are moments when she shows some concern for his well being. But, more often than not, she seemed to be more annoyed, as though his problems were a serious inconvenience for her. 

I'm also a bit undecided about his girlfriend, Ali (Shue), mostly because, other than being the reason for Johnny not liking Daniel, she really didn't add a whole lot to the movie. Plus, much like his mom, she seemed to be absent whenever he really could have used someone.

Final Opinion

I haven't seen the remake of this movie (and probably won't) and, because of that, don't know how it compares to that version. However, I think this is a film that is a classic in its original form and one that is worth watching if you haven't seen it or haven't watched it in a long time.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 05/12/2016, StevenHelmer
 
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