Such a classic here for real. I'm glad Cobra Kai brought new fans to the old Karate Kid film series and it's very delightful to hear. It may be cliched but the characters are very appealing Daniel LaRusso was outstounding too.
A charming movie with themes from an underdog story, drama (growing pains), clashing philosophies and martial arts. It is a cult classic and one of the movies everyone has seen or at least heard of. For me the strengths are the relatable characters together with the story that uses familiar themes to create an immersive experience. Also it became the signature roles for at least Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Martin Kove and William Zabka. Even at the time of writing in 2021 which is 37 years after the first movie it is fondly remembered and has a strong fan base. I have yet to watch Cobra Kai which I hear only good things about. Back to the movie. It is the story of 17 year old Daniel LaRusso who moves to Los Angeles with his mother. He has a hard time there and is been bullied. He meets the elderly janitor Kesuke Miyagi who is a nice and helpful but quiet person. After an ugly turn of events Mr. Miyagi helps him by training him Karate. Here I stop with the set up. Like I already said It is immersive and relatable. If you have ever moved to another city and start anew you can understand Daniels feelings. Also the more you learn about Mr. Miyagi the more you respect him. There is a bond between teacher and student and it often reminds me of the teaching that a master learns also from his students. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi have a great chemistry and one helps the other. The story has a good pacing and the climax or final is remarkable. So many scenes are common (pop culture) knowledge and there are countless parodies and homages in movies, TV series, videogames and more. Also I already mentioned that the characters became the signature roles of the actors (This can be a curse, blessing or both). This means that they left an impact on the viewers and are fondly remembered. Lets start with Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso. He made a truly genuine performance. Never I doubted his character or performance. Then of cause Pat Morita as Mr. Myagi. He is the archetype of the quite, noble (martial arts) teacher with a hearth of gold. He is not a man of many words but a source of wisdom and knowledge. He made the best performance in the movie and there are strong contenders. Martin Kove as John Kreese is so enjoyable to watch. He is menacing, ruthless and intimidating. Perfect choice for its character. William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence is actually a deep character and I praise this as a stereotype is often used for characters like him. He too is remembered fondly and gave a great performance. The others like for example Elisabeth Shue as Ali Mills or Randee Heller as Lucille LaRusso did also a really good performance and are often forgotten. In total this is a great cast full of memorable characters and actors. Visually the movie looks good and the choreography is well done for its time (Yes I acknowledge that newer movies set the bars higher). The soundtrack is fitting but not entirely my cup of tea. Overall this is a cult classic and nostalgia prevents me from giving anything other than a 10/10. I truly think it still holds up. Maybe today they would use a faster pacing and less depth or complexity. However the remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith is also excellent. Recommend to watch both at least once.
When karate is not being treated as the latest excuse for an Impossible Dream success story, and when the film is able to find more in Daniel's martial-arts career than pure Rocky-esque competitiveness, The Karate Kid exhibits warmth and friendly, predictable humor, its greatest assets.
The Karate Kid is too long and lyrical, with several tedious scenes between Macchio and Morita as youth and experience. Avildsen is sometimes unsure whether he wants to be tough or forgiving, and the film has a big build-up for the fight scene, but an ending so abrupt it downplays the outcome. [22 June 1984]
As in the Rocky films, Avildsen's only directorial strategy is to delay the final confrontation for so long that all the audience's pent-up frustration explodes with it. It's primitive, predatory stuff.
In short, The Karate Kid presents the smallest imaginable variations on three well-tested formulas for movie success. Robert Mark Kamen's script is developed with maddening predictability, and John G. Avildsen's direction is literal and ambling. Films like this are what the PG rating is supposed to be all about.
When this film was released in the summer of 1984, it was a surprise critical and financial hit. The premise of this film is genius. When teen Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves to Reseda, California from Newark, New Jersey, he encounters some bullies that make his new life hell. Daniel meets handyman Miyagi (Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita) who secretly knows karate and takes Daniel under his wing so he can learn how to defend himself against the bullies. This film is so relevant today, even over 30 years after hitting theaters.
Starting with cast performances, everyone delivered a solid performance. Ralph Macchio first became successful after 1983's book-to-film adaptation 'The Outsiders'. But 'The Karate Kid' is what turned him into an overnight sensation. He'll forever be known as Daniel-san. His portrayal of Daniel LaRusso was outstanding, and you clearly sympathize with his character, particularly if you have dealt with bullying in your life. The performance is believable and emotional, and you see how it affects him. Pat Morita delivers an exceptional performance as Mr. Miyagi. You would never think an elderly man knew karate, and so well at that. He believes karate is for defense only, and although he doesn't like fighting, he eventually agrees to help Daniel train. When you learn about Miyagi's tragic backstory, you also sympathize with him. You imagine how somebody could survive dealing with a tragedy like he did. And the chemistry between the two characters is outstanding, something you don't see too often with completely different characters. William Zabka, a.k.a., the King of 80s Jerks or King of 80s Bullies, delivers an intimidating performance as as the leader of the Cobra Kai, Johnny Lawrence. As the main bully, he's angered when he is trying to get his ex-girlfriend back, and Daniel enters the picture and becomes interested in her. Elisabeth Shue gives a fine performance as Ali Mills, Daniel's love interest. Their relationship is great because he lives in a lower class area in California while she lives in a very upper class area in California. There's clearly a spark between the two of them, and Ralph and Elisabeth have great chemistry. Martin Kove, who is the Cobra Kai sensei and runs the dojo, also gives a great performance, even if he isn't in it for as long as the other Cobra Kai members. His character doesn't see karate as most do, and he teaches his students to show their enemies no mercy. His view of karate is that you should confront your enemy and show them pain to make them suffer. He's the polar opposite of Miyagi. The supporting Cobra Kai members also give solid performances. Bobby is a remorseful member of the Cobra Kai and doesn't agree with all of Johnny's actions towards Daniel. Dutch is more like Johnny but truly doesn't like Daniel and shows no remorse whatsoever. Tommy seems to be in the middle, but he and the other Cobra Kai members start to see Kreese for who he truly is. Randee Heller who plays Daniel's mother definitely goes through a lot in this film. Having to move to California to start a new job and learning that her son is getting severely bullied is not something a mother should have to deal with. Here she is starting a new life, but her son wants to go back to his old life back home. The whole cast give great performances. There isn't a single bad performance in this film.
Robert Mark Kamen's script is exceptional, smart, and clever. He tells a great story with fantastic dialogue and multiple moral lessons. You really have to think when you hear characters like Miyagi speak. Reading between the lines is very important in this film. And who doesn't remember 'Wax on, Wax off'? This movie is EXTREMELY quotable and for good reason.
Bill Conti's score is so underrated. It's one of my favorite film scores of all time, and whenever I watch Daniel's training montage or the final fight between Daniel and Johnny, the score that plays is so wonderful, youthful and emotional.
I also really like the costume design. Not including the hilarious shower costume Daniel wears to a Halloween party, the Cobra Kai's skeleton costumes look amazing, and the gis that Daniel and the Cobra Kai wear also look great. I even own Daniel's gi (not the one that was worn in the film). The fact that Johnny's gi is sleeveless shows the Cobra Kai are badass and don't play by the rules.
I don't have any problems with this film. There's great storytellings with great delivery of the script. The action sequences are great. The cinematography is great, even if there isn't much of it. There are great messages throughout the film that are still relevant to this day. I truly believe this is a perfect film.