30 January 2003 | Old Joe
The 'old one' taught him the secret to karate lies in the mind and heart. Not in the fist!
Having a man teach you a valuable art such as that of Karate, is invaluable especially if you are young, inexperienced and in a battle with people who you have no hope against. However viewers of the 'Karate Kid' get to learn a valuable lesson for life out of this story, that fighting is a waste of time, and with time and patience anything can be achieved. In addition viewers get to hear the cute pronunciation of `Daniel-san' by the great teacher!
Fatherless teenager Daniel is a new arrival in Los Angeles when he becomes the object of bullying by the Cobras, a menacing group of Karate students. Daniel asks his handyman Miyagi, whom is a martial arts master, to teach him how to fight. Miyagi teaches Daniel that karate is mastery over the self - mind and body - and that violence is always the last answer to a problem. Under Miyagi's guidance, Daniel learns the physical skills while gaining faith and the self-confidence to compete against the odds as he faces the fight of his life in the exciting finale.
I remember watching this film along time ago, but boy was it a thrill. Sure it didn't have 'big stars' or big action in it. One thing it did have was 'heart'. The character of Daniel was one person that typifies this. At no stage does this teenage loner from New Jersey ever give up, when at times that might have been the best thing for him to do. I feel that this story and character for that matter, is how we need to approach our own lives, because if you keep putting in the hard yards and stand-up for what you believe in, things will soon turn around.
The stars of this movie are not bad. Firstly main star Ralph Macchio was excellent as Daniel. I felt he brought the struggling teenage character to the screen perfectly. He is a very naïve and inexperienced young man, yet with time and patience he makes what was a terrible situation seem nothing big at all. I enjoyed Macchio in other movies including 'The three wishes of Billy Greer', a movie which again suited this tough actor, about a young man who is dying from premature aging, in addition to movies such as 'The last POW? The Bobby Garwood Story'. I cannot praise Macchio any higher.
Other stars are just as worthy. Pat Morita was wonderful as the wise and what I feel was the humorous `Miyagi'. His role was just as good as his counterpart Macchio, yet it was also very different. Miyagi is one person that does not like the spotlight, yet when his young friend is placed in a very precarious position in his new home town, he steps in and shows what a great Karate man he really is. Then you have the other side of this story, which of course has to have a girl in it, with Daniel striking up a relationship with the popular Ali Mills. Actress Elizabeth Shue, who has also had a somewhat 'celebrated' career, played Ali. She has starred in films such as the controversial 'Leaving Los Vegas', 'Back to the future II' and 'III' and the 1988 hit 'Cocktail'. Though there are times that you expect Daniel to never make it with Ali, in the end he does have a faithful person outside of Miyagi.
The bad guys are not bad in this film either, with that part of the cast including Martin Kove as the arrogant Karate Teacher John Kreese, who will stop at nothing to see the end of the fairytale of LaRusso and Miyagi. His main student and the person who wants Daniel's blood the most is Johnny Lawrence played by William Zabka, and although he has not go on to big and better roles, his bad guy role was enjoyable in the Karate Kid. I did read in one review on IMDb where a person claimed that the bad guys were not given enough of their own treatment. However I disagree, considering the bullying and beatings that Daniel receives, I feel that Daniel and Miyagi teach the 'Cobras' a lesson. Sure we don't get to see Kreese get what he deserves, but if you have not seen the second Karate Kid, then you will get to see what awaits this cruel and relentless individual.
The Karate lessons and fighting sequences in this film are incredible. I guess like Daniel, most of the fans of this film would assume that Daniel is not learning anything, yet being Miyagi's personal slave. However we get to see how intelligent this old Okinawa man is, through all of his work for Daniel he teaches him some very basic and vital Karate moves. I love the attitude that this movie brings to everyone, that fighting is the last option for any situation, whether it is verbal or physical. I think this is so true, as fighting gets people nowhere. It just makes life bad for both parties, again this movie shows this to be so true.
In conclusion, the Karate Kid is a truly great film, but perhaps I am showing what era that I grew up in? I cannot say that I totally agree with Karate, as it is a very Chinese practice, but if it is based around what Miyagi teaches, that is for self-defence, and then it might be ok. I am sure many moviegoers will never forget the finale to this movie, because I am sure I never will. The sequels which follow slowly start to lose there appeal with this story, but not to matter, if you are looking for a story which shows you that giving up is not really an option, then see what is so special about this story of a courageous Karate student and his clever teacher!
CMRS gives 'The Karate Kid': 5 (Brilliant Film)