The Karate Kid is one of the classic movies of the 1980’s. It inspired boys (and girls as well) from middle school to college to take karate lessons and stand up to bullies — the latter being a common theme of the movie that many kids could relate to.
If you’re not familiar with the film, it’s centered around Daniel LaRusso, a teenage boy who recently lost his father, who moves with his mother from New Jersey to California. Daniel quickly makes some new friends and is invited to the beach where he meets Ali Mills, the school sweetheart. In an act of chivalry to protect Ali from her ex-boyfriend, he inadvertently makes enemies with a gang of karate students from the notorious Cobra Kai dojo and that’s where the fun begins.
The boys torment Daniel though violent acts of bullying, to the point where Daniel is on the cusp of needed medical attention. Fortunately, he is rescued by Mr. Miyagi, the handyman from Daniel’s apartment complex. Mr. Miyagi becomes a father figure to Daniel and brings him to the Cobra Kai dojo to negotiate a truce. It is decided that the bullying will stop so Daniel can train for the local karate tournament and Miyagi, an accomplished martial arts master, agrees to train Daniel.
The training scenes start out a bit frustrating for Daniel who wants to learn how to kick and punch, but instead is forced to learn the fundamental skills such as blocking techniques. In fact, the scene where he confronts Miyagi about his methods is somewhat reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s frustration with Yoda in “The Empire Strikes Back.” When I took karate (yes, I was inspired by the film), the first thing I was taught was how to block.
In the tournament, Daniel surpasses everyone’s expectations and makes it to the finals. However, he suffers a serious knee injury courtesy of an illegal move by his Cobra Kai opponent during the semi-finals. In another memorable scene, Miyagi tells Daniel that he has nothing left to prove so it’s okay for him to forfeit the final match and go home. Daniel, however in an act of true perseverance, decides to fight in the match stating that if he doesn’t, the Cobra Kai will know that they go the best of him and the bullying will start up again.
The following video shows the climax of the film.
This film is full of inspirational moments and valuable life lessons. In the end, Daniel is not only victorious, but finally earns the respect of his Cobra Kai bullies — his main nemesis, Johnny Lawrence, insists on personally presenting Daniel with his trophy and says “you’re alright LaRusso, great match” as he shakes his hand.
Some interesting facts about the movie:
- The tournament features several prominent martial artists including referee Pat Johnson who is a 9th degree black belt.
- Although the film ends with a close up on Miyagi’s proud face (which is a fitting ending), there was an additional scene shot that occurs in the parking lot where Daniel and Miyagi are confronted by the Cobra Kai master. This is a great scene and was eventually used in the opening of The Karate Kid Part II(which is my favorite film in the series).
- Daniel’s winning move is the Crane technique which was made up for the movie. It’s actually bad karate technique as it leaves the body wide open for attack.
- The song during the closing credits is “Moment of Truth” by Survivor. It has an 80’s feel to it, but it makes for great workout music if you like that style.
Overall, The Karate Kid is an entertaining movie that is sure to inspire. It’s available on DVD.