The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid

Infobox Film
name = The Karate Kid

caption = "The Karate Kid" movie poster
director = John G. Avildsen
producer = Jerry Weintraub
R. J. Louis (executive producer)
Bud S. Smith (associate producer)
writer = Robert Mark Kamen
starring = Ralph Macchio
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita
Elisabeth Shue
Martin Kove
William Zabka
Randee Heller
music = Bill Conti
cinematography = James Crabe
editing = John G. Avildsen
Walt Mulconery
Bud S. Smith
distributor = Columbia Pictures
released = June 22, 1984
runtime = 127 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget =
gross = $90,815,558 cite web | | title=The Karate Kid | url= | accessdate=2007-03-13]
followed_by = "The Karate Kid, Part II"
amg_id = 1:26948
imdb_id = 0087538

"The Karate Kid" is a 1984 film directed by Phillip Ali, and starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue. It is a martial arts film and an "underdog" story much in the mold of a previous Avildsen success, the 1976 boxing film "Rocky". It was a great commercial success upon first release, and has retained its popular following. It also received a favorable critical attention, earning Pat Morita an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.


Teenager 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. The family has travelled in search of a new beginning, after the death of Daniel's father. Their new apartment's handyman is a kindly and humble Okinawan immigrant named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita).

The last night of summer, Daniel and his new friends from school travel to the beach; a girl named Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) catches Daniel's attention. Her ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and his friends accost Ali. Daniel attempts to intervene and ultimately fights with Johnny. Although he knows some karate—learned from books and at the YMCA in New Jersey—Daniel is easily defeated by Johnny, who is better trained.

Unwittingly, Daniel has made an enemy of the Cobra Kai karate dojo's best student. The Cobra Kai dojo teaches an unethical, vicious form of martial arts. Johnny and his cronies thereafter torment Daniel at every opportunity. When Daniel retaliates with a prank at a Halloween dance party, he is pursued by Johnny and four of his Cobra Kai associates (dressed in skeleton costumes), who proceed to beat him severely. Johnny ignores his fellow Cobra Kai student Bobby's advice to discontinue the beating. As they're arguing, Mr. Miyagi appears to be scaling the fence behind them. Just as Johnny is about to give Daniel another blow, Mr. Miyagi jumps off the fence and shoves Daniel out of the way. In a surprising display of karate skill, Mr. Miyagi defeats all 5 Cobra Kai titles with surprising ease. Awed, Daniel asks Mr. Miyagi to be his teacher. Mr. Miyagi initially refuses, but then realizes that his intervention will inevitably result in Johnny and his friends taking further revenge on Daniel. He agrees to go with Daniel to the Cobra Kai dojo to see if they can resolve the conflict.Daniel and Mr. Miyagi confront the "sensei" of the Cobra Kai dojo, John Kreese (Martin Kove), to stop the harassment. However, Kreese, an ex-Special Forces Vietnam Veteran, sneers at the concepts of mercy and restraint, and has indoctrinated his philosophy into his students. Kreese, who fought in Vietnam, appears somewhat bigoted against people with East Asian features (in the first two sequels , Kreese refers to Mr. Miyagi as a "Slope"). Mr. Miyagi announces that Daniel will enter the “All Valley Karate Tournament”, where Cobra Kai students can fight Daniel on equal terms. Mr. Miyagi also requests a "truce," that the bullying stop while the boy 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.

Mr. 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 many cars, sanding a wooden floor, painting a fence, and painting the house encircled by the fence. (The chores are Daniel's "payment" to Miyagi for the training.) Eventually, Daniel becomes frustrated, believing that he has learned nothing of karate, whereupon Mr. Miyagi reveals that Daniel has unknowingly been learning defensive blocks, through muscle memory learned by doing the chores.

Daniel then learns that Mr. Miyagi lost his wife and son in childbirth at Manzanar internment camp while he was serving overseas with the U.S. 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 Mr. Miyagi was a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism against German forces in Europe. A brief flashback by Mr. Miyagi implies that the decoration was for killing many Germans, and details are not otherwise specified.

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 Mr. Miyagi has taught him to strengthen his relationship with Ali.

At the tournament, Daniel surprises everyone by reaching the semifinals. Kreese instructs Daniel's semifinal opponent, Cobra Kai student Bobby, to disable Daniel with an illegal attack to the knee. One of the more compassionate Cobra Kai students, Bobby initially resists (also knowing that such a move will disqualify him), but Kreese insists that Bobby put Daniel "out of commission." Bobby reluctantly complies.

With Daniel injured and unable to continue, Mr. 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 therefore persuades Mr. Miyagi to use his special 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. He manages to earn two quick points at the beginning, but a minor nose injury to Johnny forces Kreese to take a timeout.

As Kreese examines Johnny's nose during the timeout, he orders his student to fight without mercy, telling Johnny to "sweep the leg," targeting Daniel's previous injury. Johnny blanches at the order, knowing that he can win with such an unethical move, but wants to do so fairly in the ring. He reluctantly obeys Kreese and does what is ordered, knocking Daniel to the floor. Though in great pain, Daniel refuses to stay down.

In the final scene, 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 squarely to Johnny's chin, winning the tournament. Johnny acquires respect for Daniel as a result of Daniel's win. With respect and without malice, Johnny takes the trophy from the emcee and presents it himself to Daniel.

Meanwhile, for all the adoring crowd and the trophy, the greatest reward for Daniel is the sight of Mr. Miyagi's face beaming with pride at his student's triumph.


*Daniel LaRusso: Ralph Macchio
*Mr. Kesuke Miyagi: Pat Morita
*Ali Mills: Elisabeth Shue
*John Kreese: Martin Kove
*Lucille LaRusso: Randee Heller
*Johnny Lawrence: William Zabka
*Bobby: Ron Thomas
*Tommy: Rob Garrison
*Dutch: Chad McQueen
*Jimmy: Tony O'Dell
*Freddy Fernandez: Israel Jurabe
*Jerry: Larry B. Scott
*Mr. Mills: William Bassett
*Referee: Pat E. Johnson

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 cite web | | title=Chuck Norris | url= | accessdate=2007-03-15] . Additionally, according to the special edition DVD commentary, the studio originally wanted the role of Mr. Miyagi to be played by Toshiro 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 the "Conan" sequel, "Conan the Destroyer".


"The Karate Kid" spawned an entire franchise of related items and memorabilia, such as action figures, head bands, posters, T-shirts, a video game, etc. A short-lived animated series spin-off aired on NBC in 1989. The film also 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 previously been best 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". [ [ Bill Simmons: Holy trilogy of the 'Karate Kid'] ] Morita made several other movies including the three sequels, one of which would help launch the career of two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank; additionally, it launched the career of Elisabeth Shue. It has also been credited for both advancing the art of bonsai and for renewing youth interest in martial arts, with an emphasis on personal discipline rather than the often gratuitous and cinematic violence for which martial arts films are known. The characters of Daniel and his mother are also noteworthy as positive media portrayals of Italian Americans.

This movie ranked number 31 on "Entertainment Weekly"'s list of the [,,1532588,00.html 50 Best High School Movies] . The film retains an 88% freshness at [ Rotten Tomatoes] .


*"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.


*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

References in popular culture

* In the Disney movie Hercules, Hercules is depicted doing the crane kick from the beach scene during his training to become a hero.
* The Chicago based math rock band Sweep the Leg Johnny named themselves after the famous line in the movie.
* In the episode The Fight of the US version of The Office, Kevin says "Sweep the leg" while Michael and Dwight spar
* LA-based band No More Kings released their single named "Sweep the Leg, Johnny" [ [ Sweeptheleg.Com ] ] after the line from the movie. The video for the song, written and directed by William Zabka, features a reunion of most of the original "Karate Kid" cast including Macchio, Zabka & Kove.
*The rock band "Alli With An I" took their name from a quote during the soccer tryout scene.cite web | | title=Michael from Alli With An I | url= | accessdate=2007-03-26]
* Scottish grunge band "Cobra Kai" took their name from the movie, and have stated in interviews that they chose it because they like to "feel like the bad guy"Fact|date=June 2008.
*In the Disney Channel Original Series The Proud Family, there is a clear reference to The Karate Kid when Penny Proud becomes a student of karate and is forced to perform laborious tasks such as waxing cars and painting and in the end learns proper blocks and attacks.
* In the Kevin Smith movie "Dogma", when God (played by Alanis Morisette) is about to revive Bethany from the dead, Metatron (Alan Rickman) comments "Wax on, Wax off" as Alanis/God claps her hands together in a similar manner that Mr. Miyagi did when he was about to heal Daniel's knee.


The original 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 original soundtrack album as well, including "Please Answer Me," performed by Broken Edge, and "The Ride" performed by The Matches. Other than its in-film appearance during the beach scene when the Cobra Kai arrive by motorbike, "The Ride" has never been released on any known albums.

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 worldwidecite web | | title=The Karate Kid | url= | accessdate=2007-03-15] . This was the first official release of the original recordings — before, bootleg CDs would sell for $40-$120.

Track listing for 1984 soundtrack

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

Track listing for 2007 Varèse Sarabande score

#"Main Title" - 3:30
#"Fight Nite" - 2:01
#"A Bumpy Ride" - 1:37
#"Dan Ducks Out" - 0:55
#"Bonsai Tree" - 0:43
#"Decorate the Gym" - 0:39
#"Miyagi Rattles Bones" - 2:21
#"Miyagi Intercedes" - 1:28
#"On to Miyagi's" - 1:33
#"The Pact" - 2:12
#"Feel the Night" - 1:56
#"Troubled Lovers" - 0:33
#"Japanese Sander" - 1:26
#"Paint the Fence" - 3:11
#"Daniel Sees the Bird" - 2:38
#"Fish & Train'" - 2:28
#"Training Hard" - 2:29
#"The Kiss" - 1:02
#"Japanese Hand Clap" - 0:40
#"No Mercy" - 0:23
#"Daniel's Moment of Truth" - 1:52


* Since the film was to be called "The Karate Kid", Columbia Pictures had to get permission from DC Comics for usage of the name of the Legion of Super-Heroes comic book character Karate Kid. Although the film version did not resemble the original comics creation, DC did get acknowledgement during the end credits.
* In Japan, "The Karate Kid" was retitled "Best Kid" (ベスト・キッド/"Besuto kiddo").
* David Schwimmer, famous for his role in "Friends", makes a quick walk-on appearance as a student.
* The "Crane kick" technique does not exist in any form of Karate or Kung Fu. It was specifically invented by Darryl Vidal — one of only three legitimate black belts on the cast or crew — for the film. Vidal has stated that the Crane kick has "very little practical application".
* Darryl Vidal can be seen in the movie as the semi-finalist in the All-Valley Tournament who was defeated by Johnny. Vidal was also Pat Morita's stunt double for the scene in which Mr. Miyagi is demonstrating the Crane technique standing on the post on the beach.
* The uniforms, patches and headband were originally purchased at Valley Martial Arts Supply, a martial arts supply store in North Hollywood, California. The headband was actually a simple suggestion to accessorize the plain white uniform. The purchaser went into Valley Martial Arts Supply and bought an assortment of uniforms and patches. He asked what patches should go on a white uniform. The owner informed him that traditionally, the Okinawan karate white uniform is basically unadorned. Maybe a name or school logo embroidered, but that is it, very plain and stoic. The owner then suggested a headband as a gimmicy accessory, but not really traditional in any way. She then showed him a few options and they settled on the non-descript sushi chef headband. Who knew it would eventually become such an iconic symbol.


External links

*imdb title|id=0087538|title=The Karate Kid
*amg movie|id=A26948|title=The Karate Kid
*rotten-tomatoes|id=karate_kid|title=The Karate Kid
* [ Filming Locations]
* [ The Karate Kid Website]
* [ Lane's The Karate Kid Page]

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