The Karate Kid (1984) – Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita

7.5/10 — The Karate Kid is a classic martial arts movie – along with its sequels it was responsible for making karate and martial arts in general a lot more popular around the world – building on top of all the Bruce Lee led Kung Fu hype from the decade prior.

It probably deserves an 8/10 for first time viewing, but I give it 7.5/10 to account for rewatchings from an action hero movie fan’s perspective. Pat Morita does a fantastic job as the old man (Mr Miyagi) who teaches karate to the lead actor; and Ralph Machio does a decent job as the lead actor playing Daniel LaRusso (‘Daniel san’), a boy who’s not very strong and can’t fight well but has a determined attitude and a sensitive mind capable of learning fast, especially under the tutelage of a great teacher like Mr Miyagi. Martin Kove also does a pretty good job as the aggressive karate teacher (Sensei John Kreese) who instructs the bullies, and William Zabka does a fair job as the leader within their crew and the main antagonist in this movie (Johnny Lawrence) who has a history with Daniel’s newfound girlfriend.

Pat’s character was based on Chōjun Miyagi, who is credited as the founder of the Goju-ryu, one of the most popular styles of karate, as well as Fumio Demura, a more accessible modern karate man who Pat spent a lot of time with in order to nail the attitude of this character.

The script writer Robert Mark Kamen really went to town with the creativity involved in teaching Daniel-san how to block punches by having him wax cars, paint fences, etc. This makes for a great scene where a frustrated Daniel-san learns what skills he’s unwittingly acquired, as Mr Miyagi also raises his voice for the first and only time in this movie. There are some brilliant scenes & clips throughout the movie, but there’s also a bit of drama that makes it a bit boring if you rewatch it too often.

Techniques

On a side note, the Wax On and Wax Off techniques are equal to Shuto Uki (knifehand block) in Karate; or Biu Sau (darting hand) in Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Paint Fence up and down would be the Cheung Kiu (long bridge) version of Tai Sau (lifting hand) and Gam Sau (pinning hand) in Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Sand Floor would be Gedan Barai (lowline sweep) in Karate; or Gaang Sau (ploughing hand) in Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The Crane Kick (Crane Technique) is based on a popular Karate move called Mae Tobi Geri 前飛蹴 (Front Jumping Kick) which itself, like all major forms of Japanese & Okinawan Karate as well as Wing Chun Kung Fu, stems from Fujian White Crane Kung Fu.