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John G. Avildsen
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, Randee Heller, William Zabka, Ron Thomas, Rob Garrison
Writing Credits:
Robert Mark Kamen

He taught him the secret to Karate lies in the mind and heart. Not in the hands.

Presenting the complete Karate Kid Collection, a rousing collection of four uplifting, coming-of-age adventures that will leave you cheering! Two teenagers learn important lessons in life, friendship and the art of self-defense from their wise mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Starring Ralph Macchio, Oscar®-nominated Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (Best Supporting Actor, The Karate Kid, 1984) and Academy Award®-winner Hillary Swank (Best Actress, Boys Don't Cry, 1999).

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$90.800 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $24.95
Release Date: 5/11/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director John Avildsen, Writer Mark Kamen, and Actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita
• “Blu-Pop” Interactive Feature
• “The Way of The Karate Kid” Featurettes
• “Beyond the Form” Featurette
• “East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook” Featurette
• “Life of Bonsai” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Karate Kid [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Brian Ludovico / Colin Jacobson (April 29, 2010)

With a remake on the horizon, the spring of 2010 felt like the right time for 1984’s The Karate Kid to hit Blu-ray. At the film’s start, high schooler Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) moves from Newark to sunny southern California, as his mother Lucille (Randee Heller) takes a good job in computers. When he arrives just before the first day of his senior year, Daniel’s outgoing nature helps him get invited to an end-of-summer beach party where he first encounters comely schoolmate Ali (Elisabeth Shue).

Daniel doesn’t know he’s flirting with the wrong girl until her bully ex-boyfriend Johnny (William Zabka) shows up with his gang of thugs. When Johnny becomes confrontational with Ali, Daniel steps in to defend her. A fight ensues, and when the dust settles, Daniel finds himself in a heap on the beach.

That’s just the first of several beatings at the hands of Johnny and his gang of thugs, all of whom are students at Cobra Kai Dojo, where Sensei Kreese (Martin Kove) teaches his students a special brand of martial arts: “strike first, strike hard, no mercy”. No matter how many beatings he gets at the hands of the blond mob, Daniel doesn’t back down. In fact, he plays a prank on Johnny at the school’s Halloween dance and ends up at the receiving end of a particularly brutal attack. Beaten to unconsciousness, a mystery hero saves Daniel from a coma or worse by jumping the fence and taking out the five Cobra Kais all by himself.

That hero? Mr. Miyagi (Oscar-nominated Pat Morita), the maintenance man at Daniel’s apartment complex. With Miyagi’s help, Daniel strikes a deal with the Cobra Kai: he’ll be left alone to train in Miyagi’s karate, so long as he enters the All-Valley tournament and faces them in the ring. Daniel and Miyagi undertake some now famous unorthodox training, all of which leads toward the big showdown with Johnny.

I wish there were more to say about The Karate Kid from a narrative standpoint, but the fact is that while this movie has become many things to many people, it certainly isn’t complicated or original. The Karate Kid is another iteration of the most recognizable themes in all of storytelling: the David and Goliath story. A smaller, weaker person stands up to incredible odds that he overcomes because of heart and mind. Be it On the Waterfront or Rocky, everyone can recognize the skeleton of these stories, but what differentiates the good from the bad is the meat of the films and the characters.

Starting with Daniel, we don’t find overly detailed characters. However, we connect with the lead immediately because we’ve all been that fish out of water. Daniel doesn’t let his circumstances get him down, even after getting beaten like a drum for the first few weeks of school. He is defiant to a fault while still chivalrous, respectful and funny. He’s a kid with a lot of qualities we all had, plus a few of the qualities we may wish we’d had.

Morita earned the film’s lone Oscar nomination. Morita’s Miyagi is basically a real-life Yoda, playing the dignified master with wisdom, grace and - perhaps most importantly - humor. Toshiro Mifune was originally supposed to play the role with a more militaristic and austere style, but Morita’s funny and human character works far better.

The villains are almost hilariously broad-stroked. Johnny is the bully we all hated and feared in high school, the boy who was more physically developed than the rest, stronger, athletic, good looking and arrogant. He seems driven by pure rage around Daniel and complete haughtiness around Ali. At every chance, if he isn’t beating Daniel up, he’s embarrassing and insulting him.

His Cobra Kai cronies are caricatures of the high school pack mentality, so much so that they’re almost laughable. There’s only one instance in the film where a Cobra Kai says “that’s enough” to Johnny. At some point, I think at least one of these kids would just say “Why do we care about this punk kid?” They become poster boys for ‘roid rage when we get to the finale.

Their master, though, is perhaps even shallower. Shallow though he may be, the inimitable Martin Kove plays Kreese just a hair shy of having him twist the end of his moustache and laugh in a foreboding crescendo as he ties Ali up on a railroad track. He represents the Dark Side of karate, the aggressive and seething anger of martial arts.

Kove also makes some of the most hilariously evil faces in movie history throughout the film. I often wondered why Kreese was so concerned over Daniel and Miyagi. The guy has a successful business and a lot of students who pay a pretty good penny to learn his style of karate - what does he care if Miyagi or Daniel want to live their lives? And isn’t he worried at least a little about the legal ramifications of teaching this way? If five of these kids put someone in a coma, how long until Cobra Kai Inc. is held liable? Kove’s Kreese doesn’t care one whit. Good for you, Marty!

The Eighties Movie has become a genre unto itself, boasting such classics as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science. Indisputably, The Karate Kid belongs in that same pantheon of film. Even though it’s not an original or unpredictable story, it’s a fantastic underdog movie that continues to draw audiences in and gets them to respond emotionally. <

With its core of good morals, some entertaining characters, a classic “final showdown” scene and some fine direction, The Karate Kid is true family entertainment. It’s fun enough to allow you to ignore its various flaws and enjoy the ride.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Karate Kid appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not a dazzler, the presentation satisfied.

Due to the nature of the source photography, sharpness occasionally was a bit iffy. This was an issue mostly in wider shots, as those could be somewhat soft. However, this wasn’t a real concern, as the majority of the movie boasted nice clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to become an issue, and edge enhancement remained absent.

Source flaws also failed to appear. To the joy of the anti-DNR (digital noise reduction) brigade, the movie came with plenty of grain. That wasn’t especially attractive, but it represented the original photography, so I didn’t mind it. Otherwise, the film lacked any signs of defects.

Colors looked surprisingly good. A lot of mid-80s flicks haven’t held up well in this regard, but Kid boasted a broad, lively palette that provided solid reproduction of the hues. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows looked clear and smooth. Again, the transfer didn’t look stunning in an objective sense, but it was more than satisfactory.

Similar comments greeted the peppy DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Kid. While not an action extravaganza, the soundfield delivered a good feeling for the various environments. Much of this stayed with general ambience, and various vehicles moved around the spectrum in a pleasing way. Music boasted strong stereo delineation and moved to the rears in a decent manner as well.

Otherwise, the back speakers didn’t have a lot to do. They concentrated on environmental material and never came to life in a dynamic manner. However, they worked fine for the material; they did what they needed to do.

The quality of the audio became the most impressive aspect of the track. In particular, music sounded great, as both the score and the many awful 80s pop songs appeared lively and full. Effects didn’t have much to do, but they were clear and concise, and speech seemed satisfying. The lines were consistently natural and accurate, without edginess or other problems. Given the movie’s age, I thought a “B+” was in order; this was a very nice soundtrack. MP> Karate Kid comes with a pretty good array of extras, most of which appeared on the 2005 DVD release. First up comes an audio commentary with director John Avildsen, writer Mark Kamen, and actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. All four sit together for their running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, sets and locations, stunts and karate, and general film notes.

While a peppy commentary, this one rarely becomes especially informative. Oh, we get decent bits and pieces along the way, but I can’t think of many genuinely interesting nuggets. Though it’s an enjoyable listen, it doesn’t tell us much.

For something new, we find an interactive feature called Blu-Pop. That’s a goofy name for the standard picture-in-picture program. “Blu-Pop” mixes text factoids with pop-up interview remarks from Macchio and actor William Zabka. The text components discuss basic facts about cast/crew and karate, while Macchio and Zabka go over characters and performances, cast and crew, and various aspects of the shoot.

This turns into a mini-commentary, and it’s a pretty good one. Both guys have some good stories to tell, and they flesh out their sides of the production well. We don’t find a ton of redundant info from the commentary, so “Blu-Pop” provides a satisfying overview.

A mix of featurettes follow. The two-part The Way of The Karate Kid runs 45 minutes, 25 seconds and provides comments from Avildsen, Kamen, Macchio, Morita, Zabka, and actor Martin Kove. The program looks at story and development, cast, characters and performances, Avildsen’s work as director, shooting the karate, and a mix of movie specifics.

With 45 minutes at its disposal, I hoped for a deep look at the production from “Way”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us a ton that we don’t already know from elsewhere, and it tends to seem a little soft in terms of content. It’s pleasant and reasonably informative, but it just doesn’t become memorable or especially rich.

Next comes the 13-minute, three-second Beyond the Form. It includes notes from martial arts master/choreographer Pat E. Johnson. He tells us about his work on the film as choreographer and trainer of the actors. He contributes some decent notes about the production, but he tends to wax philosophical about martial arts more than I’d like; really, in a show like this, we just want to know about the movie.

East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook lasts eight minutes, 17 seconds and offers info from Avildsen composer Bill Conti. They discuss the score for Kid and make this a pretty tight and informative glimpse into the craft of film composing.

Finally, Life of Bonsai goes for 10 minutes and gives us material from bonsai master Ben Oki. He chats about the art of trimming those little trees. His comments offer some minor insights into his work, but it’s more interesting to see the trees themselves.

The set ends with some Previews. This area includes ads for Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, Extraordinary Measures, Facing the Giants, and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. No trailer for Kid appears here.

After 26 years, The Karate Kid remains an enjoyable underdog story. Sure, it shows its 80s roots pretty heavily and occasionally borders on the cheesy side of the street, but it has a nice mentor relationship at its center that carries it. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio along with a fairly positive set of supplements. This Blu-ray brings home the film in a satisfying manner.

Note that you can buy The Karate Kid individually or as part of a two-disc boxed set. That package combines Kid with the sequel Karate Kid Part II. If you want to own both, it’s a good deal. Individually, the Blu-rays list for $24.95, but the boxed set runs $39.95, so you benefit from a $10 savings.

To rate this film, visit the Karate Kid Collection review of THE KARATE KID

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main