I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Karate Kid (1984)

tn_karatekidTHE KARATE KID was such a phenomenon, man. It mainstream-popularized karate in the U.S. and was heavily imitated in everything from kid’s movies to sports movies to actual action movies. It was sequeled, next generationed, cartooned, action figured, parodied in REVENGE OF THE NERDS, postmodernly referenced and recently remade. It’s hard to remember what the context was then. I can’t really watch it without comparing it to martial arts themed movies made since then. But I’ll try to be nice.

mp_karatekidTHE KARATE KID is the story of a weiner (Ralph Macchio, TEACHERS) who moves with his mom from New Jersey to California. His neighbor invites him to a beach party where he becomes smitten with future Oscar nominee and PIRANHA 3-D star Elizabeth Shue. But then this big blonde kid named Johnny (William Zabka) shows up. He’s Shue’s ex-boyfriend, he gets in an argument with her about her radio (you know how teens are). Daniel either boldly or delusionally tries to stand up for the girl, so Johnny karates him and leaves him crying face down in the sand. And like those old Charles Atlas ads from the ’60s Johnny and his posse even kick sand in the kid’s face by driving by on their dirt bikes.

Johnny is what modern man calls a “total douchebag,” and he’s under the influence of a one-dimensionally evil ex-Special Forces sensei who preaches that “mercy is for the weak.” But in the interest of fairness it must be stated that Daniel (the weiner) basically demands to get his ass kicked through his activities at the Halloween dance. He sprays the bully with a hose while he’s on the shitter, and then runs off. I’m not saying Johnny didn’t deserve to be sprayed with a hose, I’m just saying that it’s not as if Daniel should be surprised that when he sprays this asshole with a hose the end result is getting karate kicked into a fence. I mean, if you don’t want to get stung you shouldn’t headbutt a hornet’s nest. I guess that’s why it’s not called THE COMMON SENSE KID.

But you remember what happens. The apartments he live in have this maintenance man (a really fucking terrible one, by the way – you hardly ever see him working, and when Daniel tries to get him to fix a sink he plays the language barrier card) named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita, COLLISION COURSE) who saves him from the beatdown, then sort of mistakenly gets involved in confronting the rogue sensei and next thing you know he decides to train Daniel in karate and enter him in a regional tournament to show those pricks a thing or two.

It’s easy to forget because he’s become so familiar, but Miyagi is a pretty great character. He scowls, speaks in froggy-voiced broken English, tricks Daniel into cleaning his car collection and painting his fence and house, but somehow seems charming and lovable behind that. Maybe it’s because if we were him we would also trick the little wimp into doing all of our chores, but then feel kind of bad about it and start being nice to him. I guess they considered Toshiro Mifune for the role, which I can definitely see working. But having the little wiseass in the role brings something different to it. Okay, it makes him more like Yoda. Or Mako, who was also offered the role. But it works, and his relationship with the kid is the part of this movie that stands the test of the time. I can’t really say the same for other aspects, including but not limited to music, acting, and karate.

Okay, maybe it’s not fair to hold this up to the standards of either actual karate or movie karate. But watching this movie now I have trouble buying into it. I figure the reason it caught on so big was the fantasy that the skinny little wuss can, through a few months of hard work, physically dominate and humiliate the shitheel that embarrassed him in front of girls. And it’s even better that he doesn’t have to bulk up through the Charles Atlas system. He just has to learn Ancient Eastern Secrets. Nerds love that shit, and anybody else enjoys a good underdog story.

If you want to dig a little deeper there’s a generational conflict like there was in FIRST BLOOD. The bad sensei Kreese is a Vietnam vet, Miyagi fought in “the good war” WWII. That’s one way movies explain different philosophies, based on what war they fought in. So the two fight about which direction to send the next generation in.

And like REDBELT, or like a metaphor about organized religion, or like a small band of rebels fighting against the Empire, Miyagi represents a humble practicioner who quietly holds up true, pure karate against the corruption of organized, Americanized, competitivized karate. When they show up at the tournament’s registration desk Miyagi is asked what belt Daniel has. The ranking of the belts is so important to these beach community warriors, but to Miyagi (an actual Japanese karate man) it’s so irrelevant he didn’t even think about it. So he has to call Daniel a black belt and steal a belt for him to wear.

I stand behind Miyagi’s philosophy, but I’m not sure the results support what he’s doing. I’m sorry, you look at this kid doing his fake karate and it’s not even remotely believable that he’s allowed in this tournament, let alone able to win it. He never looks like he’s skilled or strong enough to compete, and it’s not like he’s winning through cunning and smarts, because he shows up at the thing and has to have the scoring system explained to him by Elizabeth Shue. During the matches he wiggles his arms like a sissy, dances around like he was specifically reprimanded by Miyagi for doing, and ends up in tears two different times.

I was prepared to give Miyagi’s training methods the benefit of the doubt. Yeah, so Daniel does more waxing than kicking, he never spars with an actual opponent or even uses punching bags or dummies, and he’s not taught anything about the rules of competitive karate. But there is a training montage complete with inspiration rock soundtrack (“You’re the Best (Around)”). So maybe he learned the useful stuff in between edits.

But when you see how he fights at the end and how he wins it’s clear that Miyagi is no Yoda. He just got lucky with this kid. I’m all for the action movie tradition of a character learning a special move earlier in the movie and using it for the big win, but the thing with the crane kick is fucking ridiculous. You can’t tell me that blackbelt Johnny is gonna look at him standing in that pose and think “I don’t know why he’s standing like that, but one of the feet is in the air, that must be the one he plans to kick with so I think I’ll go ahead and line my face up right to where the other foot would kick if he were to suddenly do a crane kick, which obviously is not what he’s planning so I should be safe by doing that.” Look at this shit:

He ran right into that! What the hell is he doing? I guess maybe the idea is that Daniel didn’t win through skill or training but through his opponent’s almost impossible level of incompetence. That’s why it’s inspirational, because any one of us could’ve beat that asshole. He was destined to blow it eventually.

I could be wrong but it seems to me like THE KARATE KID has a reputation as more than just a cheesy ’80s movie, but as something of actual quality. Morita was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for it, which is cool. But I’ve talked to people who really like it as a drama. The obvious comparison is the earlier hit by director John G. Avildsen, ROCKY. In ROCKY I really believe that Rocky could win, but he doesn’t, and it doesn’t matter. In THE KARATE KID there’s no fucking way the kid would be conscious after his first match, and somehow he wins a whole tournament, the end. It leans a little away from drama and more toward unearned wish fulfillment.

I’d seen NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER more recently than THE KARATE KID, and I knew it was a rip-off, but it was funny to be reminded how much of a rip-off. They have the same business with moving into a house, making instant friends with a neighbor while moving the things in, checking out the local karate dojo but not being able to join because of a bully in the class who’s after the same girl, then having to train on his own and fight in a tournament. NO RETREAT does achieve its goal of having way better martial arts than THE KARATE KID, and also it has more breakdancing and ghosts. As far as professionalism in acting, cameras etc. though it’s pretty shitty by comparison.

One thing that’s interesting: THE KARATE KID was written by Robert Mark Kamen, who later became known as the guy who just writes Luc Besson productions. He wrote THE FIFTH ELEMENT, KISS OF THE DRAGON, THE TRANSPORTER, BANDIDAS and TAKEN. And hey, wait a minute – THE TRANSPORTER was even directed by Corey Yuen, who did NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER.

Here’s some circa ’84 white people karate competition I found on youtube:

You think Daniel could hold his own with those guys? I don’t, but we’ll see I guess. I’ll have to watch part 2 one of these days, maybe it’ll reverse the ROCKY series and have him lose in the second one.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, July 26th, 2010 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Drama, Family, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

100 Responses to “The Karate Kid (1984)”

  1. I’ve only seen part 3 of the series. I would love to see you do a write up on that one, I thought it was pretty bad.

  2. I loved this movie when I was a kid. It’s pure undiluted wish fulfillment. When I saw it again in my late teens, I was shocked to discover how bad most of the film was. But it was bad in a really fun way. There are few comedies that can make me laugh as much as the Karate Kid. It’s a time capsule of a film.

  3. All I have to say about the end fight is Holy Crane Kick Batman!

    I watched sidekicks the other day. Go Chuck Noris! This movie is along the same vane as the karate kid but I liked it quite a bit more.

    The karate kid, meh.

  4. You’re the best! Around! Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down!

  5. I remember really liking/being inspired by this one as a kid. I always liked how Miyagi was teaching Daniel all this karate w/out him even knowing it, w/ “paint the face” and whatnot. Plus, I thought dressing up as a shower was a pretty cool Halloween costume. Haven’t watched it in probably 20 years, so yeah, it probably wouldn’t hold up well.

    I feel like I’m always disagreeing w/ Vern, but I thought the crane kick was believable (I watched it again in the little YouTube embed). It looked more to me like he was charging in to just wail on him (’cause his sensei urged him to “finish him”), and he was so impetuous ’cause it didn’t even dawn on him what Daniel might be doing (or capable of doing) w/ that crane business–patience, timing, and execution vs. pure testosterone and might. Vern, I think it only seems obvious to you b/c you have the benefit of hindsight.

    If I remember correctly, Johnny played more or less the exact same character in “Just One of the Guys” and “Back to School.”

  6. Whatever you want to say about the rest of the movie (which, personally, I think is pretty good)–the scene where Miyagi gets drunk and talks about Manzanar internment camp and fighting with the 442nd RCT? That’s a great, great scene. I remember seeing Karate Kid in ’84 and that moment just absolutely came out and blindsided the whole audience. (Seeing Karate Kid and Ghostbusters in the same theater, on the same night–Karate first, then Ghostbusters. Leaving the theater that night, 8 years old, my mind was well and truly blown to smithereens. Whew…)

  7. My childhood came from the late 80s, but funny I don’t remember KARATE KID being part of it. Maybe its because I had ENTER THE DRAGON and that was enough for me.

    I do vividly remember the (quite awful) KARATE KID video game on the NES. Wow those programmers sure hated kids.

    Its a decent movie, more above average than the rest of these sort of pictures because of Morita and that character, you wanted to hang around and see what he does next. The rest was filler.

    Some weeks back at the local bargain theatre they showed the remake, and it was what 140+ something minutes long?

    What the hell? Look INCEPTION needed that time to tell its story and get the fuck out, but fuckin’ KARATE KID? Thats not just 30 minutes too long, but maybe even 45 minutes too much bullshit.

    That said, it wasn’t bad. Maybe what responded best was well, how many of us guys here grew up on Jackie Chan movies? Remember that first time you saw him do his ridiculously insane stunts and fights, repeatedly defying death for our amusement? So there is a dash of my childhood nostalgia because hey wouldn’t you hang with the guy to learn how to kick ass, or at least scale walls and slide down electricfied poles

    Also, how can the KARATE KID remake be called KARATE KID without any fuckin’ Karate?

  8. zdub – Never bothered with #3 (what else is there to that story?) but I had the misfortune of catching NEXT KARATE KID on TV, you know the one with a very young (and less horse face) Hillary Swank.

    Nostalgic Critic ripped it a new asshole so I don’t need to go into detail about its sillyness. Except I do remember one scene when he tries to get Swank to do the carwaxing shit again and she tells him to shove it, and hes surprised that his usual schtik didn’t work.

    Still, Morita before he died got to parody KID with that ROBOT CHICKEN appearance with the Fatone from NSYNC (no really thats his name) which was funny.

    I like ROBOT CHICKEN. I like robots humping washing machines.

  9. If you’re around 30 right now, THE KARATE KID, along with stuff like THE GOONIES and SHORT CIRCUIT, are remembered fondly and with much nostalgia. None were great films, I’d imagine, but I’m not going to go back and re-watch them now. Why spoil the memories?

  10. I liked The Karate Kid quite a bit then and even more now. I guess I never thought much about all the imperfections you brought up because the relationship between Mr. Myagi and Daniel San worked for me so well.

    The crane kick I guess is pretty stupid in hindsight but honestly it’s one of these suspension of disbelief things. The movie worked well enough for me to do just that.

  11. M. Casey – I dunno I loved MONSTER SQUAD as a kid, but I actually kinda like it more now after AICN helped that whole revival. Usual 80s kids movie bullshit, but alot of damn good (slick writing) moments. Its aged better than GOONIES if you ask me.

    As for SHORT CIRCUIT, I won’t bash a robot for liking the Three Stooges. He’ll grow up and go to the Marx Bros. eventually.

  12. M. Casey – Goonies is still awesome. (But what do I know? I still like Karate Kid) Short Circuit…not so much.

    Although I thought Short Circuit was pretty campy back then so when I watched it again years later I wasn’t that surprised to see it is STILL campy.

  13. If you liked Monster Squad you should try Killer Clowns From Outer Space. I never laughed so much in my life!

  14. yall ever notice how in kung fu flicks, two guys stand in place and block like a million fast blows from each other in an impressive show of timing and reaction? and then when you find a real video on youtube of a real kung fu fight, it always lasts about 5 seconds and consists of one guy running away from another guy, nobody blocks dick and then the guy running away gets kicked and falls down?

    there’s no disillusionment in my life more intense than when i first figured that out.

  15. I actually really like “Sidekicks”. Probably more than this, actually. Mako is no Mr Miyagi but “Sidekicks” features two very believable families with more human dynamics. Worth seeing if this is the kind of thing you’re into.

    But yeah, I gotta go with Vern on one thing: Miyagi is a great character. They shouldn’t have left Kreese’s comeuppance for the sequel though.

  16. I hear what Vern is saying about the crane kick not working. The totally bullshit movie move that always pisses me off is the Flying V from the Mighty Ducks movies. As a life long hockey player, it never ceases to crack me up watching the opposing team a) stand by and watch the entire opposing team skate behind the net, then b) skate backwards and allow the entire team to carry the puck up the entire length of the ice, without thinking to check or try to get the puck. Simply bullshit. The one redeeming thing in the third movie is the scene where the stupid ducks try that move, but then the other team just mows them down, takes the puck and scores.

  17. ten minute suit ups in cartoons and stuff. I could have shot and killed sailor moon before she was done puting her damn make-up on.

  18. Nice use of “shitheel,” a great word no longer in common usage.

  19. my favorite thing about this movie is the positive depiction of a Japanese character, which was kind of rarity in 80’s movies

    plus Pat Morita is just great in it

  20. M. Casey – you best be joking about The Goonies being dated son

  21. Verbal Hooligan

    July 26th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I believe his full name is William The Epitome Of An 80’s Douchebag Zabka. But I’m not real good with names.

  22. Man, I can’t believe some of you. The Karate Kid is an awesome movie. The karate tournament montage is one of the best, most exciting montages ever. I still listen that song to this day all the time. Also Vern makes it out where he is in the tournament and just mows down the competition. He gets his ass kicked in almost every match. However, all these kids are learning all these super complicated stuff but Miyagi teaches him the basics using techniques easy to understand. And he’s not an asshole like Kreese is to the kids.

    Also, Elisabeth Shue is cute as hell in this movie.

  23. Vern, this review crane-kicked my childhood.

  24. I always figured the point of the Crane-Kick is that it was dumb as hell. It’s the tournament equivalent of a guy in a street fight shitting on the ground and then punching himself while screaming “Come get me!”. What do you do with that? Common sense has gone out the window in this fight so you might as well charge straight ahead and get kicked in the face because shit just got real.
    Same principle behind drunken boxing.

  25. I remember somebody in the A-TEAM comments trying to convince me to watch this one. Vern clearly begs to differ. (Not that Vern ever begs.)

    Think I’ll stick with Vern.

  26. Loved this as a kid – I was nine when I caught it in the theater – and haven’t seen it for a LONG time. I’m sure most of it would be overflowing with 80’s cheese, but I suspect the nostalgia factor would get me through it. Also sure, for whatever reason that allows me to have my buttons pushed in this manner, that the last shot of Miyagi smiling would put a big old shit-eating grin on my face and I’d feel partially uplifted. So there’s that.

  27. Griff–

    More like I’m saying: I have a hard time believing THE GOONIES could ever possibly be anywhere close to how awesome I remember it being as a child, so I’m just going to let it go.

  28. Let’s be honest, I think we’d all rather see a Mr Miyagi movie filled with cryptic wisecracks and scenes where he fools neighbourhood shitheels into punching out the windows of their own cars and such. I have a fair degree of affection for this, but I don’t remember ever thinking it was “good.”

    I do remember enjoying the second one more, so I hope Vern’s planning to take on the whole series here so he can shatter my illusions too. On which note: after a lifetime of people quoting bits to me, I watched Goonies for the first time a couple of years ago. Not being eight, it was a truly dismal experience.

  29. Zabka fucking rules. I tried to get him to be in one of my short films once. It was the nicest “pass” I’ve ever gotten from an actor. Although he declined, he took the time to write a note of encouragement and really raise the creative team’s spirits. Viva la Zabka.

  30. THE KARATE KID cartoon (cf. the photo at the top) had a theme tune that had no words except “ahhhhh….Karate Kid!”

    (BTW, in slightly classier cartoon-related news, it was 70 years ago today that the first Bugs Bunny cartoon was released!)

    As for the actual movie, I like it. The remake actually looked pretty decent, but I was put off because a) they couldn’t go the whole trailer without including a (admittedly relatively polite) fart gag b) The soundtrack; Flo Rida and Jay Sean? Fuck that shit, I want some obscure pseudo-new wave MOR heart-wrenching ballads by someone called Commuter! c) I can deal with Will Smith at times, but no way do I want to encourage a new generation of him

  31. “and also it has more breakdancing and ghosts.”
    That line actually made me laugh out loud. I love NRNS.

  32. The movie does actually justify Daniel-san’s ineptitude to some degree during that montage – the song “You’re the best…around” quite clearly suggests that he is the best in the nearby vicinity…

  33. I still can’t believe a lot of people don’t think The Karate Kid is good but they sure did give a pass to Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat. Both of those movies are steaming piles of shit where The Karate Kid is like 80’s gold.

  34. Tango: I always thought that song was kind of a backhanded compliment. It should have been called “You’ll Do (I Guess)”.

  35. Yeah for a martial artist, Daniel certainly gets his ass beat a lot:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgL74ahg8rI&feature=channel
    bear in mine a lot of that is actually from the sequels, after he’s actually been trained.

  36. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2010 at 8:58 am

    I had such a crush on the girl from KARATE KID 2.

  37. OK. The crane-kick is awesome and I love how the movie just immediately packs up its things and goes home right after that happens. It’s a climax/exit and it leaves you buzzed and wanting more. Back when we were kids doing crane-kicks at each other on the playground, we all sort of knew it wasn’t a particularly effective fighting technique, but that was the joy of it. It was a joke, but there was also something vivid and affecting about it. It told us gentle grace beats brute strength and that’s a message I can get behind. This is Death Star Ewok dancing shit Vern, I’m surprised you’re not down with it.

    The Karate Kid isn’t Redbelt, doesn’t even try to be. If you’re going to focus on a word in that title, focus on Kid, not on Karate. This is a kid’s movie. It thinks like a kid. It understands like a kid. The whole thing is structured like some 8-year-old’s fevered hero/fear fantasy. What’s so great is how spiritual, and even mature, it gets within that. Most of that comes from Miyagi, who’s such a benevolent protecting force you can’t help but love him, but even some of the interactions between Daniel and his mom are pretty great in a quiet, familial way. The bit where Ralph Machio starts talking about this girl he’s been hanging out with, and eventually talks himself into admitting he loves her, has such a sweet, genuine energy to it, it totally wins me over. The whole movie is like that scene – dopey and kind with a big, open heart. The karate is just the side dish.

    This movie taught me what a bonsai tree is.

  38. This is another great example of what eighties cinema was best at: the Sunday afternoon movie. You know what I’m talking about. You’re tired, lazy, maybe hungover, and you don’t want to think too hard while you’re eating the chicken chimichanga you ordered from the Mexican place that’s run by Chinese people. You want a happy ending, you want some jokes along the way, and you don’t want the filmmaking to be too noisy or aggressive, but you also can’t focus that hard so you don’t want anything that’s so low-key that it could lose you in if your mind wanders. That’s where movies like The Karate Kid come in. The seventies were too slow, the nineties and beyond are too fast, but the eighties are just right.

    Or maybe I’m just too old.

  39. Stu: Daniel gets his ass kicked a lot but he’s been training for at best a year? And he’s fighting dudes who have trained their whole lives. So he IS the best because he still wins!

  40. I vote for “plausible” on the crane kick–given the situation. Arrogant snot has just cheated by sweeping the leg. Why? Because he’s annoyed that Dan is even there to stand up to him. Should be game over. Kid comes back out but is clearly favoring leg. Everyone’s cheering the kid, snot’s sensei is yelling to attack. Actually, the snot was pretty ego-damaged by the instruction to sweep the leg, and is both embarrassed he knuckled under pressure to do it and grudgingly respectful that the kid is back for another round. So it’s a high-tension situation for the arrogant snot. Suddenly the kid strikes a rather goofy disrespectful pose. What the hell?? HOW GAY IS THAT POSE!?! And what’s he think he’s going to do with it?! The balance is totally wrong for any defense or offense with the arms, his raised leg WAS JUST BROKEN so it isn’t like the kid can do anything with that, and he’s standing on the only leg he could attack with. If the kid counter-attacks with a kick, which is the only plausible move from this position, HE WILL BE FALLING UPON THE BROKEN LEG! The kid surely wouldn’t do that, right? Right?!

    If the snot had had more time to think rationally about it, he could have taken Daniel apart. But pressure plus weirdness plus ego plus shame equals loss. (I think Yoda said that in one of the prequels. {g})

  41. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Majestyk: In my experience, BACK TO SCHOOL has proven to be a very durable ’80s Sunday movie. But also ENEMY OF THE STATE from the 90s. I’m kind of ashamed of that last one.

  42. Meanwhile, my vote for the best Karate Kid movie (or equivalent thereof) which isn’t Karate Kid, is the anime “Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple”. Same basic concept, wimpy kid wanting to protect people decides to learn some karate, goes up against the goons in the local (school) dojo. But instead of Miyagi, the kid is trained by the secret crazy-elite dojo run by the grandfather of the girl he’s trying to impress and protect (who absolutely does not need his protection, since she was raised by her grandfather and his group, and can do freakishly awesome things just like the rest of them.) While part of the concept (and the comedy) is provided by the magical combat skills of Kenichi’s masters, the author makes a point of keeping Kenichi’s skills grounded in basic strategies and tactics lifted from karate, muay thai, and several other things of that sort.

    Loads of heart (and some relatively tame perversion–this being Japanese anime after all). I recently watched the whole first season and loved it enough that I’m eagerly awaiting the second season compilation.

    The main trope page at TVTropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KenichiTheMightiestDisciple

    (I know Vern doesn’t have a taste or time for anime, but other people here might like it. I was vibing hard on “The Karate Kid” while watching it, and was actually hoping Vern would review that movie so I could have an excuse to mention this. {g})

  43. Jareth – “Back to school”? What is this? I’ve never heard of it.

    “Enemy of the state”… Thought it would be great, actually received it with a huge “meh”. Not a bad film, but a waste of a great premise. I wouldn’t be “ashamed” of liking it, but I don’t think it’s a classic by any stretch.

  44. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Paul: I think it’s safe to say that anything by Tony Scott falls into the “not a classic by any stretch” category. He could probably name his production company something along those lines.

    BACK TO SCHOOL is a heartwarming coming-of-age story in which we learn that marine biology isn’t all about science.

  45. I hope this means Vern will review Karate Kid 3, or as I like to call it: Fuck Daniel-San, Terry Silver is an Awesome Dude.

    Man, Thomas Ian Griffith was pure gold in that movie.

  46. I also , as a child , was not really impressed by this movie. I remember going to school the next day and every child was doing that stupid crane move. I mean , come one , I totally agree with Vern on the final fight , it’s ridiculous. The bad guy is an amateur and the Karate Kid himself is a wuss , but I don’t hate the film , I really understand why it’s so beloved and I also liked Pat Morita . But , at the time this movie came out , I knew already Bruce , Jackie and 3 years before this there was Enter the Ninja , so , yeah , for me it wasn’t that big of a deal .Then , in 1985 , it was time for American Ninja , so I quickly forgot this even faster.

    Speaking of Pat Morita , I remember Him in Inferno , with JCVD . One of Morita’s lines was (in Italian) ” This guy is a pussy-magnet !” or something like that . I also remember ( but I may be wrong) , a woman wondering how big JCVD penis was . I hope that that writer won some kind of award that year.

  47. And this is what I remember of the fucking NES videogame:

    I never had a NES when I was a child , and to play videogames I always went to my friends houses . They were always playing Zelda or Mario ( or Sonic , if it was a Sega system), but they had other games that I was dying to play , like Megaman or Metroid . I always asked to try some new games but , no , “the system is mine and we’re playing Mario , motherfucker” was the answer . That’s why I hate those games . The one time I was asked to pick a game , I picked Karate Kid because it was the newest . Now , I want to punch Ralph Macchio in the balls every time I think of that fucking game.

  48. Jack: That’s funny, I forgot that Thomas Ian Griffith was the villain in KK3. I just watched one of his VHS-only movies last night. It was called BEYOND FORGIVENESS, and it wasn’t bad, as far as mid-nineties straight-to-video martial arts goes. It had some weirdness going for it, like the fact that Griffith is a Polish-American cop who goes to Warsaw to kill the organ traffickers who killed his brother. It’s got Rutger Hauer and John Rhys-Davies both playing Polish people (only one of them with an accent, though. Guess which one? I think you’ll be surprised) so you can tell this is a classy production all the way. You don’t get a lot of action movies about Polish people, so that was a nice change of pace.

    I’m easily amused, apparently.

  49. Jareth: BACK TO SCHOOL is excellent, if only to imagine what the parties must have been like with Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Downey, Jr., and Sam Kinison on the set (special guest appearance by Kurt Vonnegut). But for me, Rodney’s real masterpiece if EASY MONEY because he got to swear and do all the drugs he wanted. Underrated movie.

    If you’re not sold yet, you should know that Joe Pesci plays his sidekick.

  50. Fuck the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio is a little bitch and his skillz are weak.

    I’m a 3 Ninjas man.

  51. 3 Ninjas? Really? You might as well say you’re a big fan of drinking out of toilet bowls.

  52. We’re gonna need a better sarcasm detector around here. I think the batteries on ours burned out.

  53. (By the way, this is a catch-all in case Lawrence was the one being sarcastic.)

  54. Mr M: I think Easy Money was also the first movie to employ Joe Pesci’s gift for comically beating the shit out of people, but don’t quote me.

    This thread makes me want to do a Legend of Billie Jean/Band of the Hand double feature next weekend.

  55. I love joe pesci in “Eight Heads In A Dufflebag”. When he throws the grandma out of the van. funny as hell!

  56. marlow – I can’t speak for Band of The Hand (Never seen/heard of it) but I did have a strange urge to watch Legend of Billie Jean as well.

    That has passed though and since everyone hates The Karate Kid and Gonnies (it seems) I’m just bracing myself for the inevitable Gremlins backlash.

  57. An interesting thing about all the Karate Kid madness that was going on in the 80’s over here , is that it spawned his own Italian clone : The Boy in the Golden Kimono , aka Karate Warrior ( Il ragazzo dal Kimono d’oro , in Italian). It was very successful , they made 6 movies about this guy , and it started the career of Kim Rossi Stuart , now one of the most respected and serious actors working today in Italy .

  58. Bob Villa has won the thread. In My “Humble” Opinion. (Now THAT’S sarcasm if you like.)

    WHO THE FUCK HATES THE GOONIES? Show them to me and I will kill them with my mind.

    “Gremlins” was over-rated (although I have to say that when the horrible granny gets launched through the attic by a defective stairlift, I was laughing my arse off. Classic, classic comic moment in film. Almost as great as “They have weapons! So what? BLAM!!! Fuck.” in “Critters.”) A rare case of a sequel wiping the floor with the original – Gremlins, not Critters that is.

  59. Mark Twain once wrote something about how the world’s best swordsman doesn’t have to worry so much about the second-best guy, or the third-best. He has to worry about the guy that doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing or the proper way to fight, and will do any crazy thing with a sword and win by doing it wrong. I’m not sure I buy Twain’s specific example, but the point about watching out for guys who don’t know what they’re doing holds up, I think.

    I see Daniel’s victory as one of heart and stamina over technique. Do you think the other guys spent entire days sanding decks and painting fences? They don’t bicycle everywhere, either. They probably do a couple-three hours of training at a time, then ride home in their motorcycles. Daniel’s like those Special Forces guys who don’t have a lot of muscle, but they’re wiry and they have the mental and physical stamina to outlast you.

    Plus in tournament play, some top-seeded players can get knocked out early. Johnny and the other Cobra Kais got tired fighting guys like the grasshopper-karate guy with all of his spin-kicks.

    Then there’s the psychological factor. The Kais threw every dirty trick they could think of at him, and Daniel kept coming back. Johnny was psyching himself out, scared of his sensei, tired of fighting guys with flying kicks, demoralized by Daniel’s heart and tenacity, wondering what he really stands to gain. He’s not going to get the girl or anything; he has no self-respect to win. As Miyagi points out in the locker room, Daniel, just staying in the fight, has already won. I bet Johnny found himself staring at that ridiculous crane pose, and in that moment, he snapped. He saw a way to make it all be over, to give his moral failure a physical impact, punishing himself on the ball of the weiner’s foot.

  60. Holy crap, Kermit, I’ve seen that movie! I bought it on VHS for a buck under the title FIST OF POWER and put it on DVD. I had no idea that it was such a big deal in Italy. In fact, I didn’t even know it was Italian when I bought it, since the box says it was directed by “Larry Ludman.” I love it because, in true Italian fashion, it was so much more brutal than it needed to be. In Karate Kid, the humiliation was more hurtful than the beatdowns, but in FIST OF POWER this kid gets pummeled into a bloody pulp on a regular basis. Then he learns how to make his hand glow or something and everything works out fine.

    Mainly, though, I bought the movie because of the hilarious blurb on the box. Now, I’m not blaming you Italians for this, Kermit, since the box clearly states that it was printed in Venezuela. So basically what we got here is a Spanish translation of the plot of an Italian movie about an American kid who gets taught Chinese martial arts by a Japanese guy in Thailand. Obviously things are gonna get weird.

    I reprint it here verbatim:

    MANY FIGTH FOR MONEY…
    OTHERS FOR REACH THE GLORY…
    HE WILL FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE

    LIKE KARATE KID, COME IN TO US, THE STRUGGLE OF A AMERICAN YOUNG MAN IN A MYTHICAL OCCIDENTAL WORLD. FOR HIS IDEALS, HIS DREAMS, HIS RESPECT…FOR THAT HE WILL MUST BE TO BECOME IN A WARRIOR… iTHE BEST!. HIS TRAINER, A MASTER OF MARTIAL ARTS, HE WILL MUST BE TEACH TO HIM THE ART OF DOMAIN HIS TECHNICS, HIS ART, HIS MISTIC…..

    IF HE WANT MAINTAIN THIS IDEALS HE WILL MUST BE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP!

    I think I’m gonna have to track down those sequels now.

  61. “’Gremlins’ was over-rated”…And so the backlash begins. Thanks Paul.

    I must say though that I’m surprised that you prefer The New Batch to the original. I don’t necessarily disagree with you as I think the sequel is pretty brilliant in a lot of ways but I just never heard of anyone one liking the second one MORE is all. Usually you’re like me and love both of them, you love the first one and hate the second, or you just don’t care for either of them.

    As for hating The Goonies (perhaps hate was improper as I don’t want to put words in peoples’ mouths) you can read some earlier comments that make it seem that some think that Goonies…let’s say…doesn’t hold up very well.

    I thought Goonies had a wonderful sense of adventure and discovery as a kid. My brothers and I would go into this sewer near our hose in hopes of finding One-Eyed Willy’s treasure. (All we found though was a raccoon and some trash) I still feel it has that as I see it in my niece’s eyes when she watches it as well as my friend’s kids’. I can still enjoy it as well, not so much because of nostalgia, but more so because I can still tap into my inner child that just eats those types of movies up. The cool thing about Goonies (and almost any movie Spielberg was involved in at that time) is that it makes it that much easier to tap into that.

    Plus if the scene between Sloth and Chunk at the end when Chunk tells Sloth he’s going home with him so Sloth can, for once, be with a family that loves and cares for him doesn’t choke you up, then I would suspect you have no soul.

  62. Mr. Majestyk : Oh , yeah ! I totally forgot about the glowing hand ! And , if I remember right , there’s a demonstration where he and his master ( Master Masura over here ) are using the glowing hand to punch a goat in the head ! So it’s not only way more violent than KK , but there’s also animal cruelty as a plus !

    And that awesome translation in the back of your box is a perfect example of what we usually get here when it comes to dubbing and translations in general : a mix of asinine and fantastic , filtered through multiple cultures.

    If you want to see the sequels , I recommend only the second , because it’s the only one wiith Rossi Stuart . The others are non-canon , with a different actor as protagonist .

    I will now dedicate my life to MUST BE TEACH TO ME THE ART OF DOMAIN MY TECHNICS, MY ART, MY MISTIC !

  63. oh dear, the KARATE KID cartoon. Yeah moving on.

    Hey off-topic, but lets name cartoons inspired by movies which actually turned out to be good?

    For example: REAL GHOSTBUSTERS.

  64. RRA – I think you listed them all.

    Beetlejuice was okay from what I remember, so was Batman but I don’t know if you can count that one. The Clerks cartoon was pretty funny actually. I still put that in from time to time.

  65. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Majestyk: Joe Pesci? I’m so there. Appreciated.

  66. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Of course, you could have said Joe Piscopo and got an even more enthusiastic response.

  67. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Paul: It came up in another thread, but it bears repeating: some of us were a bit too old to appreciate GOONIES when it first came out; many of us had seen BRAZIL at that point in our lives. I use the plural “we” because, if I remember correctly, Vern also articulated a similar opinion. For us, we find the shrieking little brats insufferable. But we whole-heartedly support your enthusiasm for the film.

  68. Huh, no link to the William Zabka-directed No More Kings video where he plays a 20+ years later Johnny living in a trailer? For all I know, everyone’s seen it already, although I’m always a little late to these things and just saw it two weeks ago. Cute clip if you love KARATE KID and/or bands that wish they were Maroon 5:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFlQNtL8F9s

  69. Yeah, I’ll probly try to watch GOONIES again some day just because Quint and all his generation love it so damn much. But last time I did it really felt less like a fun adventure movie and more like being forced to chaperone a birthday party at Chucky Cheese’s while you have a hangover.

    I liked MONSTER SQUAD though. The kids don’t whine as much.

  70. Vern, love the site, you are my fucking hero. I just want to put this film out there because it looks badass…totally next on my Netflix. http://teaser-trailer.com/movie/ninja

  71. Red – I’m a fan of NINJA. Here’s my review:

    http://outlawvern.com/2009/12/26/ninj/

    Most people don’t seem to like it as much as me, and it’s since been topped by UNDISPUTED III (same director and star). But I think it’s an enjoyable ninja movie with lots of good fight scenes, a charismatic villain, a few nice absurd touches and a just-simplistic-enough plot. I especially love that they’re all fighting over a box of old weapons – no real significant threat to the world or anything, just a matter of honor and/or stubbornness.

  72. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen Gremlins in it’s entirety, or if I have it’s been a really, really long time

    *runs off to get the blu ray*

  73. RRA – I remember the Men In Black cartoon was pretty cool, of course it’s been over ten years since I’ve seen a single episode

  74. Vern and Jareth – PLEASE STOP RAPING MY CHILDHOOD! This is revenge for my deconstructing the shit out of “Hero”, isn’t it? Or possibly “The Mist”. Or is it THAT offensive to you that I think “Bad Boys 2” is a crime against cinema and humanity in general?

    More seriously – yeah I can kinda see your point about the kids. Let’s just say that I liked the move enough that it didn’t particularly matter to me. Unlike “Monster Squad” – does anybody even remember the kids who starred in that one? I’ve seen it twice and I couldn’t name or describe any of them except the little girl who befriends Frankenstein – I felt that “Goonies” had a great cast of outlandish yet relatable kids for heroes. Just the kind of kids you’d expect to go looking for a pirate ship using a treasure map, in fact. The ending is a little cheesy at times, sure, but sometimes a “feel-good” ending really does feel good.

    In fact, thinking about it, to the best of my recollection you’d have to go to Pixar to find a better kids’ movie. Or re-watch “Mary Poppins”.

    “Gremlins” vs “Gremlins 2″… there’s no contest for me. “Gremlins” was very much a slow-burn movie. Like “Monster Squad”, it relied on a cast of characters that, despicable old lady aside, I didn’t find particularly relatable or interesting. Gotta give Phoebe Cates props for a great comic turn, but other than that, it’s just not anarchic enough for me.

    So the sequel came along, took the same basic formula, and metaphorically beat the shit out of it with a frozen haddock. Instead of taking place in a village, it takes place in a huge skyscraper complex, which gives free rein for the writers to include just about every dumb concept they possibly can. A mad geneticist (played by Christopher Lee, no less) with a Bodysnatchers pod. Realistic-but-ridiculous public service announcements (“Would the owner of the car with license number 1AG 401 please remove it from the CLAMP parking garage. Your car is old and dirty.”) and more fantastic quotes than I can count. Gremlins interrupting the film itself, before being put in their place by Hulk Hogan. A scene from a West End musical. Gremlins that change sex, turn into electricity or become giant spider monsters. A frankly fantastic cast of characters – the grown-up manchild that owns the skyscraper, Billy’s red-headed co-worker who’s trying to sleep her way to the top, a vampire newsreader-wannabe, etc. Look, I could just go on and on and on, the plain fact is that I must have seen this movie at least thirteen times and I still laugh like a drain every single time.

  75. Yeah, I think the MEN IN BLACK cartoon was pretty good. I also really liked the THE MASK cartoon (not to be confused with M.A.S.K). way back when, and when I saw an episode recently it seemed to hold up OK. But then that (like GHOSTBUSTERS) was clearly a concept which had a lot more mileage than a single film. I also remember liking the DUMB AND DUMBER cartoon, but I don’t hold out much hope for that holding up. The beaver was a cute addition though. It’s wierd that Jim Carey’s first three hits all got turned into cartoons. I liked the TIMON AND PUMBAA cartoon more than THE LION KING, although I’m not sure if a cartoon based on a cartoon movie really counts. Do they even turn films into cartoons anymore?

  76. I gotta say, I am totally and completely in love with (evil Sensai) Martin Kove, from DEATH RACE 2000 to KARATE KID to CROCODILE 2: DEATH ROLL (aka CROCODILE 2: DEATH SWAMP). The guy just makes me happy every time I see him, and even when he’s in disasterously wretched films, he always seems like he’s trying to have a good time.

    I really, really want to cast him as the villainous Yeti Poacher who Seagal must fight to save his beloved Bhuddist monestary in my Seagal Yeti flick. I also want Irrfan Khan as his old CIA friend dragged back into the game. And I’d love to get Lance Henriksen back for a few scenes as the poachers’ shadowy financeer. Now that’s a fuckin Seagal flick.

  77. Subtlety,

    Not to mention LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, where a series of broadly comedic scenes with Kove clash horrendously with all the scenes of rape/torture/murder, somehow making the movie feel even more fucked up.

  78. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2010 at 6:56 am

    Mr. Subtlety: Who would you cast as the love interest? I mean the love interest for the Yeti, not for Seagal.

    Paul: I actually liked your comments on HERO. It’s a problematic film.

    In consideration for your fragile childhood, I’ll lay off the GOONIES bashing. I’ve been Bay-free since ARGMAGEDDON, but I think it’s probably easier to compare Bay to various dental procedures than to other films.

  79. – I remember The Goonies only as a surprisingly entertaining 80’s Kids Adventure movie. I was seriously surprised how big of a cult following it has in the USA. Here it’s just one of these movies, that run in the afternoon on TV every once in a while.
    – I recently re-watched the MIB cartoon again and can say it definitely still holds up. It’s not as good as The Real Ghostbusters, but lots of fun and pretty well written.
    – Gremlins rules! I recently watched both movies again and still love them to death. BTW, did anybody ever noticed how badass Billy’s mom is? She hears creepy noises from the attic and the first thing she does, is grabbing a knife and going upstairs. Then she gets a scared phonecall from her son, which gets interrupted. She goes back to the kitchen and sees a creepy creature with long claws and sharp teeth. Instead of screaming or running away, she takes her chance and turns on the blender when it climbs in. She doesn’t even wince at all the blood, but instead fucking stabs the next Gremlin to death! And then she sprays oven cleaner into the 3rd ones eyes and makes him explode in the microwave! And even then, she just grabs another knife, sneaks into the living room, sees something moving in a sock over the fireplace and starts to slash the sock! Okay, it was just a toy and she then gets attacked from behind and saved by Billy, but I’m sure if he came to her rescue one minute later, she had ripped out the Gremlin’s guts with her teeth and loved every second of it!

  80. Yeah the GREMLINS movies were good, and #2 if not as good as #1, still a fun clever pisser on the first movie and sequels in general.

    I mean when directors get carte blanche, they demand 3 hour running time or super expensive sets. Joe Dante wants Christopher Lee. and Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck. and Hulk Hogan. and Yogurt. and Shemale Gremlins.

    BTW I must admit that particular Hulk Hogan cameo was great. Even as a kid, I wondered why the Hulkster was wearing his WWF title belt in the movie theatre, along with the rest of his wrestling gear. I guess overuse of steroids tend to slowly fuck your reasoning skills over time.

    Or nobody (especially Vince McMahon) had the nerve to tell him no?

  81. I am so pleased to see that someone else on here like me loved the sequel more than the original movie. In fact, the sequel takes care of the whole “Crane Kick” bullshit by having Daniel get his ass stomped by the rival’s nephew when Daniel tries it.

    I kind of wish Vern would forget about “The Karate Kid” series and do a William Zabka Douchebag Trilogy (Karate, “Back to School”, and “Just One of the Guys”) review set instead.

  82. i also have more love for THE KARATE KID PART II than the original, for some reason. probably nostalgic reasons. it is even more cheesy, ridiculous nonsense than the original, but i guess it just takes me back to the summer when i first went to go see it. for some reason, i don’t remember seeing the first one in the theater, though i’m sure i did. it just didn’t leave as much of an impression on me (though, like any child of the era, i loved it). it was kind of ballsy to set the whole sequel in (hawaii subbing for) okinawa. “the glory of love” by peter cetera is currently a karaoke staple of mine. also, we talked about this on a thread a while back (one of the PORKY’S ones, probably), but i love when a sequel starts moments after the first movie ended and just picks up from there.

    as far as GOONIES goes, yeah i can’t help but have nostalgic love for that one, despite its many flaws. however, in the backlash against it i find people often forget a lot of the genuinely cool things about it:

    1) some good kid performances. my favorite has to be the guy who plays chunk. i actually think he is really good and displays a sophisticated sense of comic timing for someone his age. the scene in the fratellis’ van where he confesses to all of his sins is great. the guy who plays data is good, too. it could have been a really stereotypical and cheesy character, but he adds a special something to it that makes it work. sean astin and corey feldman are both pretty good, too. and as a plus, you get good teenage performances from young josh brolin and martha plimpton. and as an extra plus you got a great rich douchebag name in troy, played by steve antin (which makes me happy since he was in THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, one of my all time faves).

    2) the fratellis. great casting. joey pants is great as always, and robert davi is great as usual. with mama fratelli, they are a really fun trio, and not typical italian gangster-type villains like they could have been. they get a lot of good comedic moments.

    3) kids cursing. lot’s of “shits” and “tits” and what-have-yous in this movie. used to be normal in the 80’s, but now it’s rare outside of rated R movies aimed at adults (like THE SQUID AND THE WHALE or something). the kids in this movie talk more like real pre-teens than any kids in movies aimed at that audience today.

    4) a great adventure music score. that theme used in the opening credits is fantastic. used to get me so excited as a kid and still does now.

  83. ANoni: I don’t think I mentioned it, but I do love KK2 several degrees more than KK1 (not least because the crane kick is easily thrashed when Dan tries it).

    Tom: I didn’t recall Twain ever relating that quote; but I used to teach it regularly to my fencing students. Your extra analysis has just about convinced me that Dan’s opponent intentionally charged in EXPECTING to get wiped out, just to prove his own sensei wrong.

    (I have to admit, that’s probably over-thinking it. {wry g} Still, now my memory is trying to tell me there’s also evidence for it at the beginning of KK2…)

  84. I can see why people think Gremlins is better than G2 and vice versa: G2 is stuffed full of awesome, but G1 takes matters far more seriously. G1 works better than G2 as a conventional movie; but G2 works better as an unconventional movie (which is important because G1 was also unconventional.)

    Meanwhile, KK3 should have been about Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi having to deal with a new dojo in the area run by white supremacists. Insert layers of irony as necessary.

    (…wait, I’ve never seen KK3 or read much about the plot. Is that what happens???)

  85. Goonies is one of those movies I saw once as a kid and didn’t have any particular fondness for…saw it years later in college and loved it. I don’t know, it was just better than I had expected. Sure the kids are loud and annoying sometimes, but there’s some funny stuff in there. And we can all talk about how dark kid’s movies are with Harry Potter and all of that shit, but there’s something pretty disturbing about seeing them stick Chunk’s hand in a blender.

  86. I think GOONIES has withstood the test of time much better then the KARATE KID. I loved the KARATE KID growing up, but I have to admit that I think the recent remake is a better movie. I agree with Vern that the relationship between Daniel and Mr. M are the most effective thing about the original KARATE KID, and it is a decent kids movie but the fighting in that movie is joke. GOONIES is fun and pretty dark and twisted for a kids movies. I doubt it would get made these days, and if they did do a remake of it they would take all the good weird and dark stuff out.

  87. All right, Virgin Gary, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to add THE GOONIES to my netflix queue and get ready to rape my own childhood.

  88. Add me to the list of people who think GOONIES holds up. The villains are a hoot, the kids feel like real kids, and their problems are real. Their folks are poor working-class types getting shit on by rich assholes, and they’ll all have to move and never see each other again if they don’t do something about it. That’s a far cry from most kids movies, where it’s just accepted that everyone is upper middle class and has two cars and their only problem is the other kids are mean and the girl they like hasn’t noticed them yet.

  89. hey Pacman, I used to love the Timon & Pumbaa cartoon, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen it I can’t remember much about it, I’ll to see if youtube has any episodes

    also, no I don’t think they turn movies into cartoons anymore

  90. also speaking of The Goonies, I remember as a kid finding the upskirts of Kerri Green really interesting

  91. I have, for various reasons, read Hulk Hogan’s autobiography, and perhaps even more notable than the blatant “embelishments” is the part where he talks about filming GREMLINS 2, saying that he did it even though it didn’t pay much because it was directed by Steven Spielberg, but when he was on set Speilberg “didn’t even show up” and “some other guy was directing”. Did he _really_ not realise at some point in his life (maybe, I dunno, reading the title credits for GREMLINS 2 or something crazy) that Spielberg was the producer, and that “other guy” was the actual director, the not exactly obscure Joe Dante. You know him, Hulk, he’s the guy who made that other film. What was it called? Oh yeah, GREMLINS.

  92. Yay for the KK2 fans!

    As for movies-into-cartoons, Beetlejuice wasn’t a bad cartoon. It really expanded on that entire otherworld universe the movie only hinted at, and it did a really good job with it, too.

    And I, for one, would rather see more movies-into-cartoons these days than all these hideous live action movies made from classic cartoons. The Yogi Bear trailer sent shivers down my spine and put me in a bad place, I’m telling you.

  93. Like Rocky III, this was a movie I loved as a kid and then thought was cheesily flawed as an adult. Now as an older adult, I have to say this movie joins Rocky III as being even better than people give it credit for being. I was actually surprised at how strong the filmatism was – i never noticed how many truly arty long, long unbroken takes there are here (there’s even a one-take fight at the tournament with the camera spinning around the fighters that feels like proto-Creed). There’s fun, playful usage of depth of field and carefully choreographed things going on in the foreground and the background. There’s a scene with Daniel and his mom in a restaurant and Johnny’s gang in the background that literally feels like something out of a DePalma movie. (The skeleton scene also has a weird John Carpentery vibe and synth score that doesn’t appear any other time in the movie). But the true highlight is the Miyagi-Daniel stuff – the chemistry between the two actors is truly off the charts and most importantly, it’s given time to breathe. When I last saw ESB, I was surprised how little screen time Yoda and Luke share (there’s so much going on in that movie it’s understandable), and I was also surprised how little Mickey is in Rocky I. Here, they take their sweet time with the teacher/student relationship, and it’s why people love this movie so much. The famous wax-on/wax-off middle section feels like something out of a folk tale or a Bible Story – and I’m not kidding, it ends with one of the great twists in modern cinema. Even if you know what’s going on, you don’t know EXACTLY what’s going on, and when Daniel suddenly blocks Miyagi’s attacks (Macchio’s face really sells it), I got chills like I haven’t in years. What I wouldn’t give to watch this scene with an audience in the theatre in ’84.

    The movie’s not entirely without problems, the main one being that Zabka and Kove seem to be acting in a completely different movie than Morita and Macchio. They’re one-dimensional and over-the-top and come complete with a cheesy score that plays every time they show up – it’s entertaining and perfectly fine in another movie but in this one it’s so out of place – imagine the slow-burn drama of Rocky I but with Drago as the antagonist instead of Creed and you’ll get a sense of the tonal whiplash this movie has. But whatever- despite that, this movie hits on an entertainment and emotional level – it’s truly a legit classic and I’m glad I gave it another shot.

  94. Sidenote: Not to get into “obnoxious fan theory” territory, but me and my gf both independently came away from this viewing completely thinking that Miyagi taught Daniel the crane-kick because he knew the Cobra Kai might play dirty and leave him in a position where he has one injured leg. I’ve never noticed it until now, but Miyagi isn’t just a wise mentor, he’s practically Heath Ledger’s Joker in this movie. He’s not only good at everything, he’s always two steps ahead of everyone, and by that time in the movie, he had already met Kreese and seen what kind of people they were dealing with. Cobra Kai thought they were screwing the heroes over but they really screwed themselves. So it’s actually NOT the cliche of the “sports movie where they practice the impossible move and it pays off at the end” like The Cutting Edge or as mentioned above, The Mighty Ducks, it’s more of the “I was hiding a bulletproof metal thing under my shirt like Fistful of Dollars or Back to the Future III (spoiler alert).” You’ll notice from Miyagi’s dialogue with Daniel, that almost every line isn’t necessarily about teaching him to fight, but teaching him self-confidence. What better way to give him confidence than to tell him the crane kick is this mystical move that cannot be countered, when we can see it’s a ridiculous move that can CLEARLY be easily countered? You think if he didn’t tell Daniel that he would have even tried that shit?

    Also never noticed this – but after Daniel is injured by Bobby and is lying on the table, Miyagi at first totally WALKS AWAY with his mom and Ally! He could have easily healed his leg with that hand-thing, and he has no reason not to, but he was ready to leave Daniel lying there in defeat! How shitty would this movie have been if it ended that way! It’s only when Daniel tells Miyagi how much he wants this, how he coulda been a contenda and how he needs this for himself (a variation on Rocky I’s “go the distance” speech), that Miyagi knows Daniel has passed the final test and has fully committed to his actions. Earlier Miyagi stresses “Either karate “yes”, or karate “no”. Karate “guess so” gets squashed like grape.” This is a brilliant payoff to that speech and a great theme for the movie that people kinda forget. This is a fantastic script and I really hope Robert Mark Kamen can get back to writing those.

  95. Karate Kid II was the first movie I remember seeing in the theatre (I actually went to ROTJ but was too young to remember anything). At the time I thought it was amazing and an example of a perfect sequel – it takes the characters you love and puts them in new situations, it’s tonally consistent and has the same beats as part I but not so much that it feels like a rehash, it answers burning questions and fills in gaps from the first one, and it ups the stakes and scope the way a good sequel should. (like Aliens!)

    But it sadly doesn’t hold up today. Where you could tell KKI was written by an actual adult with a strong grasp on character development, structure and themes, KKII seems to have been written by a 10 year old. A very very talented 10 year old, don’t get me wrong, but everything is painted in such cartoonish, broad strokes, and the story seems like a kid on sugar going “and then….and then…..and then….”, basically making shit up as he goes along. (I guess you could pinpoint this movie as the beginning of Robert Mark Kamen’s creative decline, even though it’s miles above his Luc Besson output)

    It’s a miracle the movie is as effective as it is – the story, while absolutely ridiculous, feels simple and epic like a fairy tale. The love story is cute and sweet, the leads still have great chemistry, and the fight at the end is better choreographed and staged than most crap today. The scene with Miyagi and Daniel on the beach after Miyagi’s father dies might be the best scene in the whole series. So yeah, it doesn’t come close to part 1, and even though it’s an above average sequel, I guess I now feel like those guys who wish Rocky never had any sequels and they left well enough alone, if you know what I mean.

  96. The 1980s was the era of senseis who make their apprentices do a lot of physical labor and philosophizing, without ever being seen to teach them any actual fighting skills (see also THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK).

  97. Karate Kid III is such a bizarre movie I’m really not sure what I think about it. It’s a summer franchise movie that has hardly any action and a notable lack of crowd-pleasing moments. It makes its hero look like an absolute chump from beginning to end with no discernible talent or skills. It gives Miyagi absolutely nothing to do and no memorable lines. It callously writes off both characters’ love interests from Part II and then presents a new love interest who immediately friendzones the hero and then disappears from the movie.

    The entire movie is a succession of developments where Daniel goes behind Miyagi’s back to do something and then bad things happen. Alternating with scenes of Daniel going out with Robyn Lively and getting harrassed by the bad guys. (I’m not kidding – other than their first and last scenes together, I’m pretty sure every single one of their scenes together features a bad guy barging in and interrupting them. No wonder she peaced out of the movie).

    I absolutely cannot believe this movie is from the same writer and director as the first one, it seems to have come from another brain entirely. I suspect Robert Mark Kamen had a deadline to meet, so he shoehorned in a script he had lying around about a mountain rapelling treasure heist (using a bonsai tree as a Macguffin). Then he shoehorned in another script about Terry Silver, a Bruce Wayne-esque billionaire playboy who moonlights as a karate sensei and avenges his friend by taking down some guys with an incredibly complex and Machiavellian long con. It’s like Count of Monte Cristo or Dead Man Down or the Thomas Jane Punisher, except the targets are a clueless 17 year old kid and an old Japanese man. (I would give this movie all the stars if Daniel found out Silver was a bad guy by accidentally stumbling upon a corkboard of Silver’s 2 person pyramid of revenge, with pictures of Miyagi and Daniel connected with a red string).

    The central idea of Daniel being tempted by the Dark Side of Karate is not a bad one. Silver’s scenes with Daniel are great – Thomas Ian Griffith commands the screen and his dialogue is crackling and quotable. (and as Curt pointed out, Miyagi literally does not teach Daniel a single move this entire freaking movie.) But the last fight is so one-sided, and the villain comeuppance so brief and unsatisfying, the whole movie feels like a shaggy dog joke, whatever the hell that is. I will have to say, despite all this I actually did like the last 30 seconds of the battle, where the music suddenly gets awesome and Daniel overcomes his fear he never mentioned before, and has confidence on his face for literally the first time in the entire series. It seems like a payoff to a movie about something else entirely. And I also liked that it ended on a freeze frame of both Daniel and Miyagi- knowing that this is Daniel LaRusso’s last appearance makes the whole thing feel like a swan song. This is definitely nowhere as good as Rocky V (the other John G. Avildsen sequel everyone hates), but it has a certain gonzo charm. They shoulda just left it alone at Part I though.

  98. You guys seen this news? Could be really good or really terrible. I will have to sign up to this youtube red crap for like a month to check it out. I am very skeptical about the “thrilling fight scenes” though.

    ‘Karate Kid’ sequel series ‘Cobra Kai’ reunites Ralph Macchio, William Zabka

    The YouTube Red series "Cobra Kai" picks up the story of the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel three decades after the original hit movie.

  99. I feel like they’re just going to be making fun of the movie for 30 mins each episode.

  100. You’re the best! Around!

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