Recently I saw a movie that totally rocked my world. I just know it is going to be a huge success and is going to get a lot of buzz. Is it Academy Award material? Probably not, but The Karate Kid introduces us to a world-class actor in Ralph Macchio is a big plus for movie goers now and in the future. This guy has action star written all over him!
The story begins when young Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) arrives in California from his home state of New Jersey. All seems to be going good, even though young Daniel is bummed about moving. I mean, who wouldn’t be bummed about moving to California from New Jersey? Great people on the Jersey shore. I once got drunk in Jersey, bad situation and I don’t want to get into it.
Basically, Daniel goes through what all kids go through when starting a new school in this movie. You know, stuff like getting the most popular girl in school to like you, getting her jealous ex-boyfriend pissed at you, and playing soccer on the beach. And this is all in the first half hour! Heart pounding story telling, but on a side note…Ralph Macheo must have had to take weeks of soccer lessons for this role. What crisp moves!
The biggest issue for young Daniel is that he really got on the bad side of the ex-boyfriend Johnny (played by William Zabka) with the whole “I’m better at beach soccer then you incident and oh by the way, your girlfriend Ali is pretty hot so I’m going to keep talking to her” act. This of course causes Johnny to become enraged and lash out at Daniel in the most obvious of ways…With vicious Karate kicks and punches. Oh and of course, he has an entourage that also knows this art and likes to help him in his attacks on Daniel. Boo Johnny, Daniel is just a guy…who loves a girl…Leave him alone!
Now this is where the story begins to turn really dark. Apparently Johnny and his cohorts belong to some club called the Cobra Kais. Club? How about a cult of evil! Pheeewww. The hate speech and intimidation from this group could really rub some people the wrong way. Especially these days with bullying being such a hot button topic.
However, all hope it not lost because Daniel soon befriends Mr. Miyagi who is played by Pat Morita. Mr. Myagi is really the super hero of this movie as he takes Daniel under his wing to teach him many life lessons, not to mention karate as well. Mr. Miyagi bravely confronts the leader of the Cobra Kais and secures a once and for all showdown at the All Valley Under 18 Karate tournament which is for some reason set right before Christmas? The season of giving…as long as giving is a nice round kick to the ear!
The real curve ball that you don’t see coming in this movie is the way that Mr. Miyagi chooses to train Daniel. Mr. Miyagi must have been upset or tired from his job at the apartment complex because he has Daniel come to his house in the middle of an oil field. It was actually kind of scary because here is a young boy alone with a much older and clearly dangerous man, but it turned out that Mr. Miyagi just needed some help washing his cars, painting his fence, sanding his deck, and painting his house. Well of course this pisses off Daniel, who at this point is probably wishing he was being molested instead of working so hard. And now the curve ball, while Daniel complains to Mr. Miyagi about the slave labor, Miyagi drops the biggest bombshell of the movie on him! Spoiler alert folks, the chores were actually teaching Daniel karate! Talk about a breath-taking moment in cinematography! I think we will all be remembering the words “Wax on, Wax Off” for years to come!
So Daniel and Mr. Miyagi train and train for this tournament and show up pretty spaced out and confused for some reason. Maybe it was both of their first time at a tournament? You would have thought that a bad ass like Mr. Miyagi would have known what was going on. Did he just expect to show up and have Daniel start kicking ass? Duh, there is always paper work involved. Either way, the tournament gets going and Daniel of course is awesome and works his way all the way to the semi-final rounds where he has to face one of Johnny’s friends in a match, Tommy.
Again, the movie takes a huge dark turn where the leader of the Cobra Kais, John Kreese instructs his student Tommy to break Daniels leg or something so that Johnny can easily win the tournament again. After some half-hearted complaining by Tommy, the bullying campaign continues and of course he hurts Daniel badly and ends up getting himself disqualified from the tournament. Frankly, I’m sitting in the theater saying to myself, “There is no way Daniel can compete after that! Way to ruin a good movie!”
Spoiler Alert: Daniel appears down and out with this mysterious leg injury. But little do we know that along with Mr. Miyagi being a karate bad ass, he is also some magical medicine man or shaman or something. He summons some secret Japanese power by rubbing his hands together and then proceeds to lay hands on Daniel. I didn’t really like the overly religious message in this part of the movie comparing Mr. Miyagi to some miracle man like Jesus, but I will give the director some creative license cause he has hit a home run so far.
Magically Daniel is well enough to fight. To everyone at the tournaments (and the movie theater I might add) surprise. The big match starts with Daniel and Johnny trading points and shots. A very violent battle indeed. Well clearly, Johnny begins to get worried that this Daniel guy, his chore-based karate, and his magically healed leg are becoming a problem because he initiates a vicious attack on Daniels knee. Crap!!! How can Daniel overcome two leg injuries in one tournament? I’ll tell you how, with the best karate finishing move I have ever personally seen.
Let me tell you folks, if you have never seen the crane technique in action, you are going to be amazed.It looks like something out of those old Mortal Kombat video games you used to play at the pizza parlor. If the United States Special Forces are not using this in the field, they are really need too. Cause there really is no defense for it. Needless to say, Daniel is able to use this advanced Karate technique and unleashes a furious kick to Johnny’s face, which secures him the championship. The crowd cheers, I jump up and spill my popcorn, and Johnny accepts Daniel not as his enemy but as his peer. Even through violence we were able to find love.
My final thoughts on this move were that it was so well put together. What really brought the story together was the music. Getting top acts like Bananarama and Joe Esposito to lend their talents to the soundtrack is outstanding negotiation on the music teams part. All of the songs really kept me tapping my toes and added to the story line. I’m telling you, that song “You’re the Best” from the tournament montage has a real chance at going platinum. Seriously, pick up the soundtrack!
So guys if you are looking to take your lady to a great movie, you could really do worse than the Karate Kid. It has action, love, and life lessons inside it that will really bring you closer to your lady. This is one of those movies that I would love to see them make at least one or two sequels too as there is so much to the Daniel and Mr. Miyagi relationship that needs to be explored. For me, the Karate Kid is two big thumbs up!