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  • by David C. Terr

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    the karate kid movie posterTitle: The Karate Kid

    Director: John G. Avildsen

    Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elizabeth Shue

    Release Date: June 22, 1984

    Running Time: 127 min

    Genres: Action, Drama, Family, Sport

     

    Commentary
    The Karate Kid is an inspirational story of a small teenage boy who gets bullied severely by several of his classmates and learns karate in order to get even with them. Pat Morita is excellent as his karate trainer, and Ralph Macchio does a very good acting job himself. The karate scenes are spectacular, culminating in the match at the end of the film.

    Plot Summary

    • Introduction: Daniel LaRusso is a teen from New Jersey whose mom gets a job in LA and decides to move there, though he is hesitant about the move. Upon moving to LA he immediately has trouble. He meets a very pretty teenage girl named Ali Millis (Shue), who becomes interested in him. Unfortunately, she has a very big, tough boyfriend with lots of other tough buddies. Daniel tries to protect Ali from these guys, but ends up antagonizing them, whence they give him a black eye.
    • School: Daniel ends up in school with Ali, as well as the jerks who beat him up. He shows up at the YMCA hoping to learn karate, only to learn in his horror that his adversaries are also in this class. Upon leaving, they knock him off his bike, making him fall into the ditch.
    • Miyagi: Daniel has a very nice old Japanese neighbor named Mr. Miyagi, who fixes his bike for free. Miyagi and he become good friends. Daniel's adversaries pick on him more and more severely, nearly killing him on Halloween, but Miyagi rescues him by beating up each of them. Daniel then asks Miyagi to teach him karate so that he can fight them back. After a great deal of persuasion, Miyagi agrees. He ends up entering Daniel in a karate tournament with them.
    • Training: By agreement, for the next couple months, they lay off Daniel while he's training. Meanwhile, Daniel ends up getting closer and closer to Ali, eventually falling in love with her.
    • The Tournament: Finally the big day arrives. Daniel challenges his adversaries one by one, beating most of them. One of them cheats however by performing an illegal kick, severely injuring Daniel. Miyagi fixes him up, however, with his special technique. Finally Daniel delivers a kick to the head of his final opponent and wins the tournament.

    Cultural Significance
    The Karate Kid was a huge success. It launched the career of Elizabeth Shue and helped make Pat Morita more famous. It also led to three sequels and inspired lots of paraphenelia, including the following:

    • action figures
    • head bands
    • T-shirts
    • posters
    • video game

    Movie Clips

    Here's the original movie trailer.

    Here's the karate tournament at the end of the film.

     


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