The Karate Kid
Directed by John G. Avildsen
Produced by Jerry Weintraub
Written by Robert Mark Kamen
Starring Ralph Macchio

Pat Morita Elisabeth Shue

Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography James Crabe
Editing by John G. Avildsen

Walt Mulconery Bud S. Smith

Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) United States/Canada

June 22, 1984 United Kingdom August 31, 1984 Australia September 27, 1984 Japan February 16, 1985

Running time 126 min.
Country United States
Language English


Gross revenue $90,815,558[1]
Followed by The Karate Kid, Part II

The Karate Kid is a 1984 coming of age-drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue. It is a martial arts film and an underdog story in the mold of a previous Avildsen success, the 1976 boxing film Rocky. It was a commercial success upon first release. It had favorable critical attention, earning Pat Morita an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.


[hide]*1 Plot

  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Reception
    • 3.1 Sequels
    • 3.2 Remake
    • 3.3 Awards
  • 4 Music
    • 4.1 Track listing for 1984 soundtrack
    • 4.2 Track listing for 2007 Varèse Sarabande score
  • 5 Cultural Impact
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


High school senior Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves with his mother (Randee Heller) from Newark, New Jersey to Reseda, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. Their apartment's handyman is an eccentric but kindly and humble Okinawan immigrant named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita).

Daniel meets a girl, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), a high school cheerleader; but earns the enmity of her ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), a karate student. Johnny is the best student at the Cobra Kai dojo, where he is taught an unethical, vicious form of martial arts. Daniel knows some karate from books and a couple nights experience from the YMCA, but is the victim of repeated beatings from Johnny and his friends.

When Miyagi witnesses one of the beatings, he intervenes and defeats all five Cobra Kai with ease. Awed, Daniel asks Miyagi to be his teacher. Miyagi refuses, but agrees to go with Daniel to the Cobra Kai dojo in order to resolve the conflict. They confront the sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove), an ex-Special Forces Vietnam Veteran who sneers at the concepts of mercy and restraint. Kreese and Miyagi agree to a match between Johnny and Daniel in two months' time at the “All Valley Karate Tournament”, where Cobra Kai students can fight Daniel on equal terms. Miyagi also requests that the bullying stop while Daniel trains. Kreese orders his students to leave Daniel alone, but threatens that if Daniel does not show up for the tournament, the harassment will resume and Miyagi will also become a target.

Miyagi becomes Daniel's teacher and, slowly, a surrogate father figure. He begins Daniel's training by having him perform laborious chores such as waxing cars, sanding a wooden floor, painting a fence, and refinishing Miyagi's house. Each chore is accompanied with a specific movement, such as clockwise/counter-clockwise hand motions. Daniel eventually feels frustrated, believing he has learned nothing of karate. When he expresses his frustration, Miyagi reveals that Daniel has been learning defensive blocks through muscle memory learned by performing the chores.

As Daniel's training continues "in the open" his bond with Miyagi becomes closer. He learns that Miyagi lost his wife and son in childbirth at Manzanar internment camp while he was serving overseas with the United States Army during World War II. The loss of his family and Daniel's loss of his father further strengthens the father-son surrogacy. Daniel also discovers that the outwardly peaceful and serene Miyagi was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism against German forces in Europe.

Through the teaching, Daniel learns not only karate, but also important life lessons, such as the importance of balance, reflected by the belief that martial arts training is as much about training the spirit as the body. Daniel applies the life lessons that Miyagi has taught him to strengthen his relationship with Ali.

At the tournament, Daniel surprises everyone by reaching the semi-finals. Johnny advances to the finals, scoring three unanswered points against a highly skilled opponent. Kreese instructs Bobby Brown, one of his more compassionate students and the least vicious of Daniel's tormentors, to disable Daniel with an illegal attack to the knee. Bobby reluctantly does so, injuring Daniel, but getting disqualified in the process. With Daniel unable to continue, Miyagi assures him he has already proven himself. Despondent, Daniel believes that if he does not continue his tormentors will have gotten the best of him. He persuades Miyagi to use a pain suppression technique to allow him to finish the tournament. As Johnny is about to be declared the winner by default, Daniel hobbles into the ring.

Kreese directs Johnny to repeat unethical moves to achieve victory. Despite the moves, and how many times Daniel is knocked down, he gets up again each time. Ultimately Daniel and Johnny are tied, both one point away from victory. Daniel, barely able to stand, assumes the "Crane Kick" stance, and delivers a blow to Johnny's chin, winning the tournament. Johnny, having gained newfound respect for his adversary, takes Daniel's trophy from the Master of Ceremonies and presents it to Daniel himself. Miyagi looks on proudly as Daniel celebrates his victory.


Main article: List of characters in The Karate Kid*Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso

  • Noriyuki "Pat" Morita as Mr. Kesuke Miyagi
  • Elisabeth Shue as Ali Mills
  • William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
  • Martin Kove as John Kreese
  • Randee Heller as Lucille LaRusso

Chuck Norris purportedly turned down the role of John Kreese because he did not want to portray a character that reinforced a negative stereotype of martial arts. However, Norris disputed this story during a February 9, 2006 appearance on The Adam Carolla Show. Norris insisted that he was not offered the role, and that he was already acting in leading roles at that time anyway.[2] Additionally, according to the special edition DVD commentary, the studio originally wanted the role of Mr. Miyagi to be played by Toshirō Mifune, but writer Robert Mark Kamen was opposed to that casting choice. Mako was also considered for the role of Mr. Miyagi, but was not available due to prior commitments to film Conan the Destroyer.

The Karate Kid was the first time Pat Morita was credited by his birth name, "Noriyuki", in decades. Producer Jerry Weintraub asked him to be credited that way so it would sound more ethnic.

[edit] ReceptionEdit

The Karate Kid spawned a franchise of related items and memorabilia such as action figures, head bands, posters, T-shirts and a video game. A short-lived animated series spin-off aired on NBC in 1989. The film had three sequels, and it launched the career of Macchio, who would turn into a teen idol featured on the covers of magazines such as Tiger Beat. It revitalized the acting career of Morita, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance as Mr. Miyagi; he had been known from his role on Happy Days as Arnold, the owner of the local hamburger hangout. ESPN's Bill Simmons called Morita's nomination "the 1984 equivalent of Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell being nominated for an Oscar in 2005".[3] Morita made other movies including the three sequels.

This movie ranked number 31 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[4] The film retains an 89% "Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[5] Roger Ebert called the film one of the year's best, gave it four stars out of four, and described it as an "exciting, sweet-tempered, heart-warming story with one of the most interesting friendships in a long time."[6] The New York Time gave the movie a positive review.[7]

[edit] SequelsEdit

  • The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)
  • The Karate Kid, Part III (1989)
  • The Next Karate Kid (1994) - Hilary Swank takes over as Mr. Miyagi's new student, Julie Pierce.

[edit] RemakeEdit

  • The Karate Kid (2010 film) (2010) - A remake of The Karate Kid[8] is in production, with an expected release in June 11, 2010 starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. Filming started around July and ended on October 16, 2009.

[edit] AwardsEdit

  • Academy Awards
    • Nominated: Best Supporting Actor (Pat Morita)
  • Golden Globe Awards
    • Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture (Pat Morita)
  • Young Artist Awards
    • Won: Best Family Motion Picture — Drama
    • Won: Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama (Elisabeth Shue)
    • Nominated: Best Young Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama (William Zabka)
  • AFI 100 Years... series
    • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers (100 Most Inspiring Movies) - #98

[edit] MusicEdit

The soundtrack album (containing songs from the movie) was released on Casablanca Records. Of particular note is Joe Esposito's "You're the Best," featured during the tournament montage near the end of the first film. Bananarama's 1984 hit song "Cruel Summer" also made its first U.S. appearance in the movie; however, it was excluded from the film's soundtrack album. Other songs featured in the film were left off the album, including "Please Answer Me," performed by Broken Edge, and "The Ride" performed by The Matches. "The Ride" has never been released on any album, but was made available on iTunes, and Rhapsody in April 2009 for the film's 25th Anniversary.[citation needed]

The instrumental scores for all four Karate Kid films were composed by Bill Conti, orchestrated by Jack Eskew, and featured pan flute solos by Gheorge Zamfir. On March 12, 2007, Varèse Sarabande released all four Karate Kid scores in a 4-CD box set limited to 2,500 copies worldwide.[9] This was the first official release of the original recordings — before, bootleg CDs would sell for $40–$120.

[edit] Track listing for 1984 soundtrackEdit

  1. "The Moment of Truth" (Survivor)
  2. "(Bop Bop) On the Beach" (The Flirts, Jan & Dean)
  3. "No Shelter" (Broken Edge)
  4. "Young Hearts" (Commuter)
  5. "(It Takes) Two to Tango" (Paul Davis)
  6. "Tough Love" (Shandi)
  7. "Rhythm Man" (St. Regis)
  8. "Feel the Night" (Baxter Robertson)
  9. "Desire" (Gang of Four)
  10. "You're the Best" (Joe Esposito)

[edit] Track listing for 2007 Varèse Sarabande scoreEdit

  1. "Main Title" - 3:30
  2. "Fight Nite" - 2:01
  3. "A Bumpy Ride" - 1:37
  4. "Dan Ducks Out" - 0:55
  5. "Bonsai Tree" - 0:43
  6. "Decorate the Gym" - 0:39
  7. "Miyagi Rattles Bones" - 2:21
  8. "Miyagi Intercedes" - 1:28
  9. "On to Miyagi's" - 1:33
  10. "The Pact" - 2:12
  11. "Feel the Night" - 1:56
  12. "Troubled Lovers" - 0:33
  13. "Japanese Sander" - 1:26
  14. "Daniel Sees the Bird" - 2:38
  15. "Fish & Train'" - 2:28
  16. "Training Hard" - 2:29
  17. "The Kiss" - 1:02
  18. "Japanese Hand Clap" - 0:40
  19. "No Mercy" - 0:23
  20. "Daniel's Moment of Truth" - 1:52

[edit] Cultural ImpactEdit

The Karate Kid helped popularise Karate as a mainstream activity in the United States.[10][11][12] The song "Daniel" by Bat For Lashes was inspired by The Karate Kid. An actor dressed as Daniel LaRusso is featured in the music video for the song.

The song "Sweep the Leg" by No More Kings was inspired by The Karate Kid. The music video features much of the original cast, including Ralph Macchio, Martin Kove, and William Zabka, who directed.[13]

Sweep the Leg Johnny, their name a reference to the film, was a Chicago-based math rock band in the late 90s/early 2000s.

[edit] ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Karate Kid". Retrieved 2007-03-13.
  2. ^ "Chuck Norris". Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  3. ^ "Holy trilogy of the 'Karate Kid'". ESPN. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  4. ^ 50 Best High School Movies
  5. ^ Rotten Tomatoes - The Karate Kid
  6. ^ "Karate Kid". Robert Ebert. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet (June 22, 1984). "SCREEN 'KARATE KID,' BANE OF BULLIES". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  8. ^ By. "Jackie Chan set for 'Karate' remake - Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  9. ^ "The Karate Kid". Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  10. ^ Schneiderman, R. M. (May 23, 2009). "Contender Shores Up Karate’s Reputation Among U.F.C. Fans". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  11. ^ "The Karate Generation". Newsweek. 2010-02-18.
  12. ^ "Cracking the Martial Arts Mold". Business News. 2010-02-18.
  13. ^ "Sweep the Leg! Interview with the real Johnny, William Zabka". Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-27.

[edit] External linksEdit