With our previous Cobra Kai coverage as well as season 3 on the way, I figured it was time I get a review done about the original movie. The Karate Kid started it all. It showed the world that a marital arts film is still very much enjoyed, even in 1984.
The movie is directed by John G. Avildsen, the same guy who directed Rocky I through V. The guy got films about fighting in the 70s and 80s. The Karate Kid is just another example of Avildsen doing well with combat sports.
I don’t have to get into the plot of the movie much, we’ve all seen Karate Kid. But seeing Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso in action together from the start is still a great pairing. What I enjoyed about the movie most now with Cobra Kai a thing, is the callbacks I missed in Cobra Kai. Small tidbits here and there were used in Cobra Kai that reminded you of the original movie. But, having not seen The Karate Kid in about ten years, I absolutely missed a few things. I won’t say what I’ve missed, as I feel it takes away from your viewing of Cobra Kai if you haven’t seen it just yet. That said, if you’re preparing to watch the entire Cobra Kai series from the beginning, especially from the first time, I would suggest you re-watch, or God forbid, watch for the first time, The Karate Kid movie.
Good and the Bad of The Karate Kid
The movie handled some of the logistical concerns of The Karate Kid that I’ve expressed in Cobra Kai. For example, Miguel gets his black belt in less than a year in the series. In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi enters Daniel LaRusso in the All-Valley tournament and has to lie about his belt ranking. Requiring it to be brown belt or higher, Miyagi lies to the official and steals a black belt for LaRusso so he can compete.
The movie is a fun ride and being released in 1984 is, of course, dated. That said, the movie doesn’t use special effects that can take you out of the movie for looking fake. The entire practical effects of the movie stand the test of time. You know the movie is old, but it doesn’t take you out of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso’s story.
The complaints are very nit picky and non consequential. One thing that bothered me was when Daniel got the car from Miyagi on his birthday. Before he leaves, he goes on about forgetting to see his mom on his birthday. When Miyagi gives him the car, he forgets about his mom and goes finds Ali instead. Another gripe here is very nit picky. Ali wants to drive the car. From the dialogue, LaRusso lets us know that it is a stick shift and he’s teaching Ali how to drive. Ali takes off perfectly on the first try. If you’ve ever learned how to drive a manual transmission, you’ll laugh at this, remembering how your first experience trying to get it in first gear went.
That said, nothing of notice took me out of the movie. The Karate Kid did a great job keeping the story in tact and moving forward without feeling too campy or boring.
The Verdict: Still a Fun Ride
Every kid needs to see The Karate Kid. While Cobra Kai may be for adults, the original movie is still pretty family friendly. While there are a couple swear words in the movie, parents will have their own discretion at that part of the movie.
Much like Rocky, The Karate Kid withstands the test of time and is a great start to a franchise that has recently been revived the the new Cobra Kai series. It’s absolutely an 8.5/10 rating!