The film that cemented for many of us the awesomeness that is Karate, the film that made Ralph Macchio into an eternal teen movie star, the film that gave true meaning to fence-painting and car-waxing, the film that turned showers into a legitimate Halloween costume, the film that made children befriending strange old men totally ok...
I'm talking, of course, about The Karate Kid.
Here's a perfect example of what makes a great sports movie: a film which glorifies the sport at hand to the point where it really makes you feel like it's super-important and actually quite deep without really being about the sport itself and focusing on the characters and their story arcs. The philosophy at the heart of Karate is the key component which drives the film and gives this troubled Daniel-san focus. It's also the reason why good old Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) is as iconically loveable as he is in these movies, always dispensing abstract yet ever-valid wisdom and effortlessly kicking ass when he needs to. The real strength of this movie is its characters and their memorable portrayal by the entire cast. Both Macchio and Morita give really strong, real performances and their seemingly unlikely friendship is instantly believable. On paper, The Karate Kid is full of typical 80's teen movie clichés: over-the-top bullies/villains, a Halloween party, an intense contest at the end, a romance with the usual conflicts... and yet this movie makes all of it work brilliantly.
Sure, the flick is dated in that it's crazy 80's but its core morals and character relationships are so solid that they still feel relevant. This is a really fun movie with a lot of heart and some humour to it too. It definitely has some naivety to it but that only serves to show how Daniel grows up through this intense mini-adventure. Essentially, the scale of this whole plot is minuscule but it still feels epic somehow. Those bullies may just be random douchebags but you can totally see why they're a huge problem for Daniel. Martin Kove's nutty Sensei is also a genuine threat since his army-style take on Karate is harsh to say the least. Elisabeth Shue is also in this movie as Daniel's love interest because it's the 80's and a young romance must involve Elisabeth Shue at all costs.
There's a simple reason why the original Karate Kid is still just as good to sit through today and why it remains a classic and one of my personal favourites: it just gets everything right. It's a small story told really well and one which "gets" Karate and which cares about its characters.
And yes, I'm happy to report that the ending (and that darn "You're The Best" song) is just as cool as it always was.
Now back to my Karate training...
*sands the floor*