I happened upon the original “The Karate Kid” (1984) recently. When I was a tweenager, I suppose this was an uplifting tale of triumph against all odds. But viewing it as an adult, I had a few problems with the movie. Some things just didn’t make sense.
I’m going to go ahead and not count Mr. Miyagi kicking 10 guys asses at once in slow motion. I’ve suspended disbelief there, due to the “Asian-guy-with-martial-arts-skills-can-pretty-much-kick-anyone’s-ass-even-if-he-is-70-years-old-and-4-feet-tall” movie clause.
Here are the 5 things that I found most perplexing:
1) Bad Johnny from the evil karate school seems very upset after “sweeping” Daniel’s leg. Why the good sportsmanship all of a sudden? Wasn’t that guy and 9 other friends just beating the pulp out of a lifeless Daniel against a fence just the other night? And then was in turn beaten down by someone shorter and older than his grandmother? And didn’t this kid just steal his girlfriend? Not to mention that he’ll be upstaged two years later when Rodney Dangerfield does the “Triple Lindy” in his place in “Back to School”. There’s lots to be angry about here.
2) No one could be as big of a whiny bitch as Ralph Macchio. He’s either a complete puss in real life, or the most brilliant actor of our time. Well, that time, at least.
3) Elisabeth Shue is interested in Ralph Macchio. I guess this is the time honored lesson of “guy-who-whines-constantly-and-gets-beaten-daily-by-local-punks-can-still-act-like-a-jackass-to-the-hot-chick-who-has-an-evil-boyfriend-but-actually-still-agrees-to-speak-to-him-in-the-face-of-all-reason-and-then-they-end-up-together”. While it’s true that often a female is attracted to an international exchange student because of a unique accent, and will even turn a blind eye to any charges of possible genocidal activities in his home country, I don’t think “Jersey” is one of the romance languages.
4) Mr. Miyagi runs a tight ship at his maintenance job where Daniel and his mom live. His work habits are exceptional. He exhibits a meticulous attention to detail. Despite the low rent location, everyone’s toilets flush well. The air conditioning works in all of the units. There’s no black mold to be found anywhere. He even has time to carefully clip bonsai trees. Something like that takes real dedication. And the lack of a decent DVR.
He even goes as far as to fish Daniel’s broken bike out of the dumpster when whiny Ralph threw it in there because he got beaten up. It wasn’t the bike’s fault. It was obviously his lack of karate skills. Have some respect for your things, kid. I bet your single mom paid good money for that. Or at least found it in another dumpster. Show a little gratitude, would you?
Anyway, Miyagi fixes the bike, puts a horn and a basket on it. Plus some sweet handlebar streamers. This is all great. The problem is when you end up seeing Miyagi’s house. With all of the stuff I’ve mentioned above, he can’t seem to keep his own damn house together. He’s got a fleet of dilapidated classic cars that a sponge hasn’t touched in decades. Old paint on his house and fence. Unsanded decks. And he’s spending most of his spare time trimming a damn dwarf tree! Unless he’s been saving all of that stuff, waiting for a whiny kid looking to learn karate. So that he can teach him some profound lessons about chores and kick-ass karate ability. But when Daniel first asked him, he resisted. Was he just playing hard to get? He should have been thinking, “Finally, I can get the house presentable for guests!” It doesn’t add up. Who wrote this thing, the “Lost” guy?
5) Let’s be honest. No amount of training could have helped this kid.