The Karate Kid (1984)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice solid movie

Some '80s romance cheesiness

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Karate Kid

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Martial Arts/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  June 22, 1984

MPAA Rating:  PG


Hey…I’m from New Jersey…

Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and his mother (Randee Heller) have left their home in New Jersey for sunny California.  Daniel is trying to make friend and meets a girl named Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue).  Daniel has a problem though…he’s become the target of a group of bullies led by a boy named Johnny (William Zabka).  Johnny is a karate fighter from the Cobra Kai dojo, and Daniel finds himself beaten daily…when Daniel learns his building’s handyman Keisuke Miyagi (Pat Morita) knows karate, he begins a unique training that could take him to the top.


I’ll put you in a body-bag!

Directed by John G. Avildsen, The Karate Kid was a small film that hit big.  The movie was a big box-office draw and received positive reviews from critics.  The movie had to get permission from DC Comics to use the title due to the Legion of Super-Heroes character the Karate Kid who DC owned the rights to (there is a thanks in the credits).  The film started a franchise and earned a Supporting-Actor nomination for Pat Morita for his role as Mr. Miyagi (losing to Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields).  The film was remade starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan in 2010.


Get that finger out of my face…or I’ll break it off!

The Karate Kid was huge.  It was one of those movies that everyone was quoting, imitating, and talking about.  I can recall renting the movie multiple times back in the day when you would rent instead of buying.  I always associate Footloose with this film in that it was one of those films my sister would check out that I was ok with watching.

The movie has a ton of memorable moments (and some memorable ’80s music).  Daniel’s training with “Wax-on, wax-off”, “sand the floor”, and “paint the fence” became classic lines form the move.  I particularly always liked “put him in a body-bag Johnny” from one of the obnoxious Cobra Kai in the final fight.  The romance is so-so, but the bullying, the training, and fighting really are fun and memorable.


Who needs the body-bag now Johnny?!?!

Honestly, the film looks pretty good.  The cinematography and style of the film is quite nice.  I don’t know if it was growing up with it, but it seems to be a bit classier than some of the big summer movies today.  It also seems to be a step above the romance movies of the time.  Some of the training scenes on the beach and water look fantastic.

The movie really strives from the sometimes very dim Daniel (honestly Daniel…where do you think his wife is?  Just ask again…) and his relationship with Miyagi.  Both Macchio and Morita have never been better and the odd pairing seems natural and realistic.  The movie also has the great bully of Johnny and the Cobra Kai, and Randee Heller is great as Daniel’s mother.  Elisabeth Shue is good as Ali but it is amusing how much effort Daniel puts into getting with her only to have her leave immediately in The Karate Kid, Part II (Shue had to return to college).

Re-watching The Karate Kid now, the film has an endearing quality to it.  The movie has a very ’80s feel to it so younger kids might find it too dated.  If you grew up in the ’80s, returning to this film has a nice familiar feel to it that is comforting.  The Karate Kid was followed by The Karate Kid, Part II in 1986.

Related Links:

The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)

The Karate Kid, Part III (1989)

The Next Karate Kid (1994)

The Karate Kid (2010)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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