Let’s go back, back to the days when karate mania was running wild!
Written By: Robert Mark Kamen
Directed By: John G. Avildsen
If there was ever a movie that is tied to the era it was released, The Karate Kid is that movie. Nowadays The Karate Kid is a simple nostalgia movie, a lot of fun, but viewed as a cliche of nostalgia, no more. Back in 1984 The Karate Kid was insanely popular, and so was a lot of the cheesiness found in the film and it’s man component, karate. Luckily we have reached a stage where people realize that outside of instilling discipline and giving people something to do karate is a useless art as far as fighting goes. Well, Lyoto Machida proves me wrong every time he fights, but he is the exception, not the rule.
With The Karate Kid it’s all about the cheese, oh, the cheese. You have terrible looking karate moves, especially by the white boys, atrocious 80’s music, the hair and mainly the general vibe of the entire film. I’m not one of those people who loves The Karate Kid because it is a good film, I like The Karate Kid because of its cheesy awesomeness. I’m also able to realize that after you have seen The Karate Kid once, everything up to the tournament doesn’t matter as much. That tournament is the moment of the movie, in subsequent viewings of The Karate Kid I tended to be bored through all the sequences but the tournament.
I suppose I’ll get this out of the way right now, but the way they treat karate and combat sports in general is insanely funny. Karate is a deadly art that can kill, especially that dangerous point karate that Daniel competes in where you aren’t allowed to actually punch full force or hit the face. I love the take that the movie has on combat sports training, all it takes is two months and you can become a master, clearly I have been doing something wrong all these years! The two kickers for me are, Daniel shows some footwork and is scolded for it, because Odin knows you don’t want any of that fancy boxing footwork in your fighting repertoire. This is topped in the tournament itself where a fighter legally going after Daniel’s injured leg is treated like the work of the devil when in actuality it’s called smart fighting.
There are some other things that are more miss than hit. The movie is painfully obvious throughout, and heavy handed in plenty of moments. Those boys have been picking on Daniel, but now he’s standing next to a sign that says toleration, do you get it? For as cool as Mr. Miyagi is, a lot of what he says is complete bunk. Sometimes he opens his mouth and it’s pure ridiculousness that he spouts, but he is a karate man so that should be expected.
The Karate Kid is very absurd, but it’s the type of absurd that I love. The Halloween chase alone is absurd on levels I can’t begin to comprehend. The tournament is absurd, yet compelling, and the same is true for most of Daniel’s training, at least the first time around that is. The Karate Kid does get right to the point, it lags in the middle, but in the beginning it wants to set everything up for the audience right away. I really did like how they slowly introduced Mr. Miyagi. The rest of the film was moving at a breakneck pace, but the introduction of Mr. Miyagi was given time and his character was easier to connect with as a result.
Where The Karate Kid succeeds beyond any moniker of cheesiness and what I believe made it so popular was in the relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. They have great chemistry between the two of them and it is easy to relate to. No matter what walk of life the audience may be in they should have experienced the mentor/student relationship at some point and the one between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel is fun to watch and a bit touching.
I’m not as high on The Karate Kid as others, but I still have a fun time with it. The climax ties everything off nicely and the entire of the movie is a lot of cheesy fun. If you haven’t seen The Karate Kid then you need to do so, because while it’s not a great movie it is one of the few pop culture movies that everyone needs to see, especially if you are into pure 1980’s American cheese!