The Karate Kid (1984) Retrospective

Greetings, Gothamites! 

Retrospectives are usually my way of revisiting older movies that I love and delving into the why. This time we’re doing something a little bit different and talking about my first viewing of what is arguably a cinematic classic.

Please be aware there are spoilers ahead for both The Karate Kid and Rocky.

Being a passionate cinephile, I am lucky to have a wide range of people with whom I can talk about movies and television shows. Recently, I was having a chat with a colleague who I regularly catch up with on the latest screen goss. He had been watching Cobra Kai and mentioned it called back a lot to original The Karate Kid movies. I said that was good to know because I hadn’t seen The Karate Kid and would need to watch that before I dove into Cobra Kai. 

Silence. The kind you only get when you have said something so dishonourable that you have horrified the person into stunned silence. Followed soon after by “What do you mean? How? You have to.” I agreed that I would.

Later that same day, I had the same discussion with another colleague who was watching Cobra Kai and who also informed me that I had to watch the first three movies then Cobra Kai.

This was echoed again by my BFF’s husband @truthfulnerd who also said the first three and then Cobra Kai was best practice. 

With three people whose opinions I greatly respect on film and television shows vouching for this path, who was I to argue? I was a little bit tentative, but only because I know some of the movies from childhood only stay beloved into adulthood due to nostalgia. I love so many movies that I know I would think are rubbish if I watched them now without the nostalgia effect. 

And yet. I am here to tell you that I freaking LOVED The Karate Kid as a 35 year old watching it for the first time. Loved it. Borderline obsessed with how much I loved it.

While most of the peripheral characters are pretty one-dimensional, Mr. Miyagi and Danny LaRusso are just so delightfully put together. They’re both so likeable and their relationship as sensei and student is incredible to watch blossom. 

Mr. Miyagi is hilarious, which isn’t something I was expecting. For some reason, parodies and references to him had imprinted him in my mind as a solemn teacher to a young punk. Thankfully, I was wrong on both counts. Danny is human and has a quick temper, but for the most part, he’s just trying to do what’s right. 

I wanted to like Ali more, and she is good, but for the most part she just seems to be a catalyst for the two rivals to become rivals and cause contention where possible. None of which are the fault of her as a character but the fact she is the primary reason for their beef does overshadow the character a lot.

There came a point, towards the end, where I thought with despair that the ending was going to be another Rocky. At the end of watching Rocky for the first time, I was flabbergasted that I had sat through all of that only for him to #$%&ing lose at the end?! Ugh. I reassured myself that, even if that were the case, at least the journey in The Karate Kid had been far more enjoyable. But then he won! Take THAT, Johnny Lawrence.

And can we take a moment to talk about the badass soundtrack? Every song feels right where it is, but the theme song ‘You’re the Best’ is just the perfect fit for The Karate Kid. It’s upbeat, inspirational and well put together — just like the film.

Now, full disclosure. I did watch the second film the very next evening. But then I skipped over the third to watch the first season of Cobra Kai. I will go back to watch the third before going on to the second and third season because I have already noticed a couple of references I would have appreciated more if I had’ve watched the third film. 

I wonder if karate lessons had much of an increase in demand after the release of The Karate Kid because it certainly made me consider it. You, like I, may not necessarily be able to take karate lessons, but I highly recommend taking a couple of hours to check out The Karate Kid. I know I will be again soon. 

If you have a different take or would like to chat about what you’ve been watching and reading, drop a comment here or hit me up on Twitter!


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