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The Karate Kid 1

zeezack's picture

Ah the 80’s. God I love that decade. Ok so I was only aged 0 to 8 throughout the whole thing, but god damn it I have very fond memories of that time. One particular summer memory was sitting on a neighbour’s porch playing with 'Karate Kid' figures. Now looking at this movie now it doesn’t exactly seem like what I’d call an action figure movie, but in all fairness that probably happened with Part 2. Having said that however Part 1 is what I would call an 80’s classic, whilst maybe no masterpiece, as pure 80’s throwaway entertainment, this ranks very highly. The film has an extremely basic plot and that’s probably a good thing because any film that tries to be intelligent and features lots of people fighting each other is fighting a losing battle (well apart from the matrix!). Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio in probably his best role) is the new kid in town and things are not running smoothly. After he and his mum movie in to a run down California apartment, Daniel is soon invited to a beach party where he meets the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately the girl of his dreams also happens to be the ex girlfriend of a bullying gang leader of karate students, known as the Cobra Kai. After being beat the shit out of several times, Daniel tries to find a place to study, but runs straight in to the dojo of his bully run by the bad ass hard nut teacher Kresse (played by Martin Kove in s very cool bad guy role). He then tries to teach himself karate, and in so doing runs in to the wise handyman Mr Miyagi. After being helped by the wise master, Daniel goes with Miyagi to face his bully and master Kreese in his dojo, and soon Daniel is roped in to competing in the All Valley tournament. Now Daniel has two months to train karate, get the girl, and win the tournament. To say this movie is very familiar is an understatement. Anyone who has seen a Rocky film will recognise the stereotypes of underdog fighter, mean opponents, corrupt trainers, and wise friends, as well the obligatory love interest. However this shouldn’t really come as a surprise as the guy who directed this also did Rocky. This film is not quite as exhilarating as his earlier masterpiece that’s for sure, but it comes very close, and has aged just as well. The acting from all the leads is very good, and the chemistry between them can b e felt, and dare I say Martin Kove as Kreese was one of the better bad guys with too little screen time in such a movie, his line of 'Finish him' in the films closing scenes really hits the note of a true bad ass who only wants to win, even if it means destroying the enemy to a pulp! The wise Mr Miyagi is also very memorable and never has 'Wax on, wax off' sounded better out of someone else mouth in a movie, despite its simplicity; it is still a very memorable line. The emotional scene when he gets drunk is also very memorable too, sealing the friendship between him and Daniel. Elisabeth Shue’s character is a bit of a let down however, she always seemed to be using him just to get back at her ex to me, and her friends just reek of very materialistic spoilt brats, man were they annoying! Still its not Dan’s fault, we all fall for girls that aren’t always as great as they seem. The script of the movie is also very well done with many memorable lines, and a fair number of showdown scenes, that are still quite realistic, far more than say in Part 3 which degenerated in to pure cheese. The soundtrack of this movie is also not to be underestimated, not very often these days do you manage to get so many uplifting songs and montage scenes in to movies and I miss them an awful lot. 'You’re the Best', 'Cruel Summer' and 'Moment of Truth' are all songs in the movie that are great for the action, and will send you straight back to the 80’s! The movie is so reminiscent of the decade that even one of the lines is 'Hey it’s the 80’s!' which makes you chuckle a bit considering how long ago that is now. The main theme tune by 'Rocky' man Bill Conti is also pretty memorable and particularly holds well during the training and penultimate fight scenes. The films ending is also very satisfying and although plans were made for it to originally be extended, I’m glad they saved the extended footage for the opening of part 2, it would have made the movie a lot less uplifting otherwise. All in all, although this isn’t the best karate movie ever made, it is one of the best 80’s movies ever made and for that reason I recommend it.

"When an enemy stares you in the face, on the street, he deserves no mercy"