'80s Flashback: Stand Up to Bullies with The Karate Kid
When parents ask me for classic movie suggestions, one of my go-to movies is The Karate Kid (directed by John G. Avildsen). It’s rated PG (parental guidance suggested for mild violence and language), but most of us who hail back from that era watched it at a pretty young age.
The message of the film is fantastic. It teaches lessons in patience, morals, and friendship while offering a heart-warming story for the entire family.
Unlikely Heroes and One Super Awesome Mentor
Teenager Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) befriends Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki Morita) who becomes a role model, father figure, and friend. Coming from Newark to California, newbie-at-school Daniel finds himself constantly bullied by a group of trendy blonde martial art brats. That’s where karate expert, Mr. Miyagi, comes into play: teaching Daniel how to defend himself and stand up to his attackers. Daniel has a lot to learn from his new mentor who has seemingly endless knowledge, incredible karate skills, and an unfathomable amount of patience.
A Coming-Of-Age with a Twist
Throughout the movie, we see Daniel develop his karate skills as he practices with Mr. Miyagi daily. We also see Daniel grow as a person – showing determination, compassion, and some much needed patience.
The middle of the movie has a lot to do with Daniel and his love interest Ali (Elisabeth Shue) as he attempts to win her over as they go on typical dates to the arcade and whatnot. But the karate theme and Daniel’s journey throughout will really win the kids.
An Epic Battle of Good vs. Evil
At the end of the movie, Daniel is ready to take on his main aggressor and the leader of the pack aka Johnny (William Zabka) in an epic karate battle. Johnny’s coach (and dad) just so happens to be a drill-sergeant type who will do anything to win – including going after Daniel’s injured leg in a forbidden move called “sweep the leg.”
Just when you think Daniel is done for, the unexpected happens and he wins the fight. Okay, maybe it was a little expected. Of course he wins, it’s a family-friendly, heart-warming, cheesy movie from the 80’s! But still amazing and a definite must-see classic!
Catch Daniel as he becomes a karate champion with the aid of his Yoda-like master, Mr. Miyagi while trying to get the California dream girl and avoiding a band of style-conscious bullies in The Karate Kid.
When you finish it, you might be wondering if you should jump into the sequels that followed. The answer is no. While they aren’t terrible, they went slightly off the rails and can be tossed into the pile of movies that can easily be forgotten. However, the original is definitely a keeper, a classic, and a must-see.
What’s your favorite 80’s action flick?