Starring: Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki Morita, Elisabeth Shue
Director: John G. Avildsen
Running Time: 127 mins
The Karate Kid is an American film about a teenage boy who, after moving to California from New Jersey, faces bullies as he attempts to fit in. However, he soon meets his apartment block’s wise old maintenance man, who teaches him the ways of karate to defend himself.
An absolute classic that oozes cool, The Karate Kid is an enormously entertaining watch, with all the sporting excitement of Rocky, the gripping drama of Rebel Without A Cause, and its own unique elegance. It may be simple on the surface, but this film has a universal appeal, and tells its story with such brilliant energy and heart throughout.
The true beauty of The Karate Kid, is its utterly wonderful combination of insightful, elegant drama and immensely entertaining action. That all comes together in the form of Mr. Miyagi and young Daniel LaRusso’s unique bond, which goes far beyond purely trainer-trainee, and taps into a really special place that few sports movies ever manage to do.
More than just a story about becoming skilled at karate and fighting to win a tournament, The Karate Kid is a gorgeous tale of growing up and understanding the ways of the world. In that, it’s a genuinely moving coming-of-age tale that touches on all the ups and downs of being a teenager, as well as the sense of achievement that comes with discovering who you truly are.
That makes it all sound pretty cheesy, and it’s fair to say that there are parts of this movie which are a bit on the cheesy side. However, there’s something about the drama in this movie that offers so much more than you’d expect at first, with gripping character development, engaging young romance, and above all a unique and wonderful bond between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel.
Alongside the elegance and moving nature of the film’s drama, The Karate Kid is full of brilliant entertainment from start to finish. With an effortlessly cool performance from a young Ralph Macchio, as well as a brilliantly serene turn from Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita, you really root for the characters here in a way unlike most other films.
The character drama and development plays into that just as much as the performances, and it makes for a really enjoyable, crowd-pleasing experience that will put a big smile on your face.
Not to mention the film’s classic 1980s style and enormously entertaining martial arts sequences, The Karate Kid really does have that special something, making it an effortlessly enjoyable and immensely memorable watch.
It’s heartfelt, fun, gripping and so, so cool, and a great watch for viewers of all ages, so that’s why I’m giving The Karate Kid an 8.0 overall.