The Old One
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 1984.
Directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, "The Karate Kid" is by far the best 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, who unknown to him, is the ex-girlfriend of Johnny Lawrence, 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, 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.
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, is Morita as Mr. Miyagi. He brings grace 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" or "Enter the Dragon".
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 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.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking