A movie responsible for putting the crane kick on the map for a whole generation of young wanna-be-karatekas, The Karate Kid is a culmination to the martial arts trend that started back in early 70s.
Despite its name, The Karate Kid is in its core a movie about an unique friendship. What starts as a master-apprentice relationship between the protagonist teenager Daniel and his unwilling sensei-to-be Miyaki deepens into an friendship believable enough to last a lifetime. It’s this unlikely companionship that keeps the movie interesting until the end, and feeling fresh still after 30 years of its initial release.
Unlike other martial arts films or the era, the actual choreographed karate is pretty non-existent here and while I’m not an expert on the subject, Daniel’s combat skills don’t really seem that impressive. Yes, including that unbeatable crane kick.
A hand must go to young William Zabka for creating one stylish and memorable baddie as the opposing karateka. For the baby-faced Ralph Macchio The Karate Kid was the part of the lifetime and his portrayal outside the actual karate fights is maybe not relatable, but never tiresome to watch. I was astounded to learn that Macchio, who portrays a 14-year old teenager, was already 23 at the time.
Pat Morita is so iconic as the sensei Miyagi that now in retrospective it’s impossible to even think about anyone else being able to replace him.
As whole the movie is entertaining, well balanced and very 80s in a good way. If I was to pick five most iconic 80s movies that shaped the pop culture, The Karate Kid would be a no-brainer addition to that list.