The Karate Kid

Daniel Larusso's gonna fight? Daniel Larusso's gonna fight! Now isn't this what it's all about, folks? You KNOW IT!! How's the leg, son? ...All right, he's being a man! The final fight will determine our new All Valley champion!!

From The Karate Kid 1984

The Karate Kid was released on June 22, 1984. It was a coming of age story which introduced a relatively unknown actor, Ralph Macchio, to the world as Daniel Larusso. Daniel is a poor kid in a working class neighborhood who is bullied by his peers, until he comes under the eye of a local handyman/martial arts master Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, played by Pat Morita. The central premise of the movie is that there is a lot more to martial arts fighting than just fighting. He must learn self discipline and self control over himself before he can hope to master his fighting skills.

The movie features an underlying story of love and jealousy. Daniel falls for a nice and attractive popular girl by the name of Ali after transferring to a new school. It isn’t long until her jealous boyfriend, and leader of a local gang name The Cobras, is gunning for him. In one dramatic scene, the Cobras surround Daniel and beat him unconscious until Mr. Miyagi steps in and fights the group off. Miyagi reluctantly decides to train Daniel in the ways of martial arts fighting so he can defend himself, but Daniel struggles and grows frustrated when he seems to be spending more time trimming bonsai trees and waxing cars rather than learning to fight.

Miyagi continues to teach the important lessons to Daniel of balance in both his personal life and his physical self. This teaching philosophy is in direct opposition to that of The Cobras who are taught to win at any cost, even if it means cheating. The two philosophies come to a head during a critical final fight in a local martial arts championship which pits Daniel against Ali’s ex boyfriend Johnny Lawrence. After cheating and spraining Daniel’s ankle, Mr. Miyagi gives him a chance to forfeit, but Daniel pushes on and uses a creative move to end the fight in a dramatic finish featuring good over evil.

This movie really reaches out to the audience and encourages you to root for the poor underdog. The audience grows with Daniel as he learns patience and self discipline, and then reaps the rewards for his hard work. These are classic values that underlie much of our society, and they come through loud and clear throughout this picture.

The Karate Kid is a typical good versus bad movie with focus on karate. However, this 1984 blockbuster touched the hearts of many and had a whole generation fascinated with martial arts, which prompted its sequels. This may be because the movie portrayed a teenaged boy’s attempts to stand up against the bullies, and many youngsters must have identified with the feelings of the kid, as well as idolized him.

John G. Avildsen directed the story written by Robert Karmen. Ralph Macchio fits the role of teenager, Daniel LaRusso, to the hilt. Daniel and his mother arrive at Reseda, near Los Angeles, California, from New Jersey. Soon the newcomer befriends Ali Mills, a girl in the neighborhood. Elizabeth Shue plays Ali Mills’ role. However, Ali’s ex-boyfriend Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka, does not appreciate the new friendship that is developing between the Daniel and his ex girlfriend. Johnny is also a karate student, and therefore, he tends to be belligerent. To top it all, he is also the best student at the Cobra Kai karate dojo. Johnny is being trained in unethical way of using the art, and has no compunctions in using the skills for wrong purposes.

Daniel takes a beating, and is saved at the nick of time by Miyagi, played by Pat Morita. Daniel is impressed and approaches Miyagi to teach him the art. Though Miyagi initially refuses to accept him as student, eventually he relents. He, however, makes Daniel do some mundane chores, which Daniel does not feel is really helping him learn the art. But soon he realizes that each repetitive action that he is performing while doing these chores is in fact a movement of the martial art.

An All Valley Karate Tournament is held, and Daniel takes part in it, and wins right up to semifinals, when Johnny’s teacher, Kreese, orders one of his other students, Bobby Brown, to injure Daniel on his knee. Bobby is not too happy to do it, but he does it, nevertheless. At that point of time, Miyagi wants his student to retreat as the tournament no longer remained as tournament, but Daniel insists that Miyagi use special skills to enable him to take part in the final. Finally, of course, Daniel defeats Johnny. The film has music by Bill Conti. It is produced by Jerry Weintraub, and distributed by Columbia Pictures.

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