After moving to a small town in L. A., Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) is confronted by a group of school bullies. When his torment intensifies he begins to learn the art of karate from his apartment’s handyman who is, luckily enough, a karate genius. Sound familiar? Yes it’s 80’s classic Karate Kid!
Spawning three sequels (as well as the highly anticipated remake heading to cinemas later this year), Karate Kid was a smash way back in 1984 but can still hold its own.
Daniel can be rather melodramatic and a bit of a smart arse at times but you soon empathise with him. Bullied by the jocks that usually populate such films, Daniel, with the help of Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita), learns that there is more to karate than fighting and revenge. There are some stereotyped scenes in the film (their bonding over bonsai trees, for example), but they all add to the fun.
At first it does seem that Mr. Miyagi has hoodwinked Daniel into believing he is learning karate and is instead reaping the benefits of having his own personal slave but Daniel soon realises this is for his own benefit; learning the art of waxing cars and painting Mr. Miyagi’s house perfects both Daniels’ patience and martial arts skills (whilst also leaving Mr. Miyagi with shiny cars and a newly painted house, we tried to convince people the same here at the farm but obviously lacked Miyagi’s skills and are left with muddy cars and unpainted houses).
The bullies themselves train at the town karate school and the two parties are pitched against each other in a tournament. Daniel’s rivals obviously play dirty in the tournament finals, but does it pay off? We won’t spoil it just in case you haven’t seen it but they do all suffer a morality check.
The love interest of the film, Ali, is played by Elisabeth Shue. Her ex-boyfriend, as well as breaking her radio, happens to be Daniel’s main karate rival too. The 80’s soundtrack that laces its way through the film provides a well placed backdrop for this coming of age movie.
Best line: ‘Wax on. Wax off.’