The Karate Kid (as part of the Karate Kid I & II Collector’s Edition) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 7, 2010 by Dennis Amith
An enjoyable, inspiring and timeless classic! “The Karate Kid” comes to Blu-ray and for fans of the film, this is the definitive version to own! Definitely recommended!
Images courtesy of © 1984 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Karate Kid (as part of the Karate Kid I & II Collector’s Edition)
DURATION: 127 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese and Spanish
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2010
Directed by John G. Avildsen
Written by Robert Mark Kamen
Executive Producer: R.J. Louis
Producer: Jerry Weintraub
Associate Producer: Bud S. Smith
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography by James Crabe
Edited by John G. Avildsen, Walt Mulconery, Bud S. Smith
Casting by Pennie DuPont, Caro Jones, Bonnie Timmermann
Product Design by William J. Cassidy
Set Decoration by John H. Anderson
Costume Design by Richard Bruno, Aida Swenson
Ralph Macchio as Daniel Larusso
Pat Morita as Mr. Kesuke Miyagi
Elisabeth Shue as Ali Mills
Martin Kove as John Kreese
Randee Heller as Lucille Larusso
William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
Ron Thomas as Bobby Brown
Rob Garrison as Tommy
Chad McQueen as Dutch
Tony O’Dell as Jimmy
Israel Juarbe as Freddy Fernandez
Julie Fields as Susan
Karate Kid I From Academy Award®-winning director John G. Avildsen (1976, ROCKY) comes the highly entertaining, coming-of-age classic that will have you cheering! Starring Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita in his Academy Award®-nominated performance (Best Supporting Actor, 1984) as Mr. Miyagi. Karate II Returning with Daniel (Ralph Macchio) to his Okinawa home for the first time in 45 years, Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita) encounters Yukie (Nobu McCarthy), the woman he left behind when he immigrated to America.
A fatherless teenager faces his moment of truth in THE KARATE KID. Daniel (Ralph Macchio) arrives in Los Angeles from the east coast and faces the difficult task of making new friends. However, he becomes the object of bullying by the Cobras, a menacing gang of karate students, when he strikes up arelationship with Ali (Elisabeth Shue), the Cobra leader’s ex-girlfriend. Eager to fight back and impress his new girlfriend but afraid to confront the dangerous gang, Daniel asks his handyman Miyagi(Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita), whom he learns is a master of the martial arts, to teach him karate. Miyagi teaches Daniel that karate is a mastery over the self, mind, and body and that fighting is always the last answer to a problem. Under Miyagi’s guidance, Daniel develops not only physical skills but also the faith and self-confidence to compete despite tremendous odds as he encounters the fight of his life in the exciting finale to this entertaining film.
The early ’80s was a time when coming-of-age films and underdog turned victorious style of films dominated the box office. One of the films that captured the attention of many and still is a time classic today is the 1984 film “The Karate Kid” directed by John G Avildsen (“Rocky”, “Lean on Me”, “Inferno”) and a screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen (“Gladiator”, “Taps”, “Lethal Weapon 3”, “The Fifth Element”).
The film was an amazing hit at the box office, making over $90 million, receive rave reviews from critics and would later spawn several sequels, a television show and would earn actor Pat Morita an Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor” and elevate the popularity teen-hearthrob Ralph Macchio to great heights.
With the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid” starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, what best to reacquaint audiences of the first two films (the third and fourth films were panned) which makes its HD debut on Blu-ray with a special “Karate Kid I & II Collector’s Edition”, the Blu-ray release of the film will also be sold separately.
The film is about a teenager named Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchip) who moves to Los Angeles along with his mother Lucille (played by Randee Heller) from New York. Not as thrilled about moving to California like his mother, Daniel meet s a new friend at his apartment complex who invites him to the beach for a get-together.
While at the beach with his new friends, he sees Ali Mills (played by Elisabeth Shue) and for Daniel, it’s like love at first sight. But unfortunately, things don’t go to well for Daniel as her ex-boyfriend Johnny Lawrence (played by William Zabka) and his friends arrive and disrupt their fun. Daniel tries to defend her but Johnny is experienced in martial arts and easily beats Daniel up.
And things don’t go as well when Daniel starts attending his new high school. Although he is happy to see Ali there, Johnny and his friends, who are also members of the Cobra Kai karate group start bullying Daniel. One night as Daniel was riding his bike and heading home, Johnny and friends once again bully Daniel and shove him while on his bike and Daniel ends up takes a tumble off the road downhill in which Daniel is injured and his bike is all bent up.
His mother is shocked that life in Los Angeles is not going so well for her son and Daniel wants to go back home. The landlord Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) sees what is happening with Daniel and ends up fixing his bike and from that point on, Daniel and Miyagi become good friends.
But during the night of the Halloween dance, Daniel goes to get revenge on Johnny by getting him wet with a hose and as Daniel tries to runaway and head back home, Johnny and his friends catch up to him and deliver a major beating. But out of nowhere, Miyagi shows off his martial arts to defend Daniel and beats Johnny and his friends and saves Daniel.
Daniel is tired of being bullied and learning martial arts from a book and pleads with Miyagi to teach him karate. Miyagi obliges as long as Daniel follows his rules. When both Miyagi and Daniel go to talk with Johnny’s martial arts teacher John Kreese (played by Martin Kove) for his students to stop attacking Daniel, Kreese is not amused and threatens Miyagi.
Miyagi and Kreese agree that they will settle their differences at the martial arts tournament. If Daniel wins, his students must not touch Daniel but Kreese tells Miyagi, if Daniel is beaten by his students, it’s open season not only on Daniel but also on him.
Mr. Miyagi trains Daniel in karate and prepares him for the martial arts tournament. Mr. Miyagi trains Daniel his way, his style through what would appear as housework. For Daniel, he can’t understand why Mr. Miyagi is making him waxing the car, sanding the wood and painting the house but quickly learns that all the work he has been doing is actual training.
But with all the training he gets from Mr. Miyagi in the short amount of time, will it be enough for him to defeat his opponents at the martial arts tournament?
“The Karate Kid” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). Before I watched this film on Blu-ray, I had the opportunity to watch the 2005 DVD version and the first things that caught my attention was how the film looked its age. But I have seen how older films can look incredible on Blu-ray and with “The Karate Kid”, although the opening sequences may show its age, the film looks absolutely beautiful for a 26-year-old film.
A lot of early ’80s films didn’t exactly utilize the best film stock and sometimes the film quality looks DNR’d or a bit cloudy and waxy. This was not the case of “The Karate Kid”. Detail is much more apparent with the objects and surroundings and also there is a good amount of grain with this release.
Outdoor sequences look quite vibrant and reds, yellows and orange colors look quite nice and some colors really do pop. Blacks are nice and deep and overall, this is the best I have seen of this film and probably the best picture quality of “The Karate Kid” we are going to see of this film in a long time.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Karate Kid” is presented in English, French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. For the most part, the majority of the film is dialogue driven. I noticed the music such as Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” really sound quite nice in lossless, especially Bill Conti’s music which definitely sounds great in HD.
There are some moments with crowd ambiance or clanging when Daniel is trying to jump the fence but the majority of the surround that one will hear is during the tournament when the audience definitely is heard all around you. So, the majority of the surround channels are utilized towards the end of the film.
“The Karate Kid” comes with the following special features (presented in standard definition):
- Blu-Pop (TM): Activate the exclusive Blu-pop feature to reveal pop up trivia, interviews and more secrets from the film! Watch Ralph Macchio and William Zabka discuss their experience of working on “The Karate Kid”.
- “Beyond the Form” Featurette – (13:03) Pat E. Johnson, martial arts master and choreographer explains what karate is and how he wanted to make the karate look realistic in “The Karate Kid” and training the talent.
- Commentary with Director John G. Avildsen, Writer Robert Mark Kamen and Actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita – The original director’s commentary from “The Karate Kid” 2005 DVD release. It was great to hear all three together and to hear Pat Morita reminisce about those years and have a lot of fun. Really fun commentary, especially in regards to the filming of the tournament.
- “East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook” – (8:17) Composer Bill Conti talks about composing a movie and what he wanted to accomplish with “The Karate Kid”.
- “Life of Bonsai” Featurette – (10:00) A featurette about the bonsai tree.
- “The Way of the Karate Kid” Part 1 Featurette” – (23:59) Robert Mark Kamen talks about writing the screenplay for “The Karate Kid”. Direct John G. Avildsen and Robert Mark Kamen talking about the cast, Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita talks about auditioning for the role. The cast talks about being part of the film and working with director John Avildsen.
- “The Way of the Karate Kid” Part 2 Featurette” – (21:25) The cast talk about director John Avildsen’s talent. Also, information on the filming of the martial arts tournament.
“The Karate Kid I & II Collector’s Edition” comes with a cardboard slipcase which contains both Karate Kid films on Blu-ray.
“The Karate Kid” was one of those inspirational coming-of-age, underdog becomes victorious films that were so indicative of the ’80s. Along with films such as “Vision Quest” and “Revenge of the Nerds”, “The Karate Kid” was a fantastic film that definitely made me and many of my classmates want to sign up for karate class.
Ralph Macchio wasn’t this hulking actor, known for his work at the time on TV series such as “Eight is Enough” and the film “The Outsiders” (1983), Macchio does a fantastic job playing Daniel,a skinny guy who learns martial arts from a book and we sympathize with him as he is a person who is constantly being bullied, getting beaten up by the jocks and I can easily remember the audience in the theater in applause after Daniel’s crane-kick. The other time I ever recall seeing this was for “Rocky IV”. But really, when you think about the character, I don’t know anyone at that time who could have played a convincing Daniel. Macchio was perfect for the role!
Pat Morita did a wonderful job playing Mr. Miyagi. Having watched Morita play Arnold on “Happy Days”, it was great to see him in such an important supporting role and although it would seem both Mr. Miyagi and Daniel would be like oil and water, the two manage to have great chemistry onscreen. One of the most interesting lines from the film was when Miyagai talks about Okinawa as his country and I’m sure many people caught that and said, “Okinawa is not a country”. But this was smart on Robert Mark Kamen’s part as a writer (especially leading to the second Karate Kid film) as Okinawan’s viewpoint towards Japan and how natives of the island have looked at Okinawa as a separate nation especially since the culture and language is much different than Japan.
As “The Karate Kid” proved to be successful and has done well for the careers of Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue who plays the love interest would also benefit from the film’s popularity and eventually would lead to major roles in “Adventures in Babysitting” (1987) and “Cocktail” (1988).
And also credit has to go to Billy Zabka (who plays Johnny Lawrence) and the guys of Cobra Kai. You couldn’t help but hate these guys as they were the epitome of jock bullies that were so full of themselves. Their performance helped elevate Ralph Macchio’s game and made you want to see the underdog come victorious. And add Martin Kove as John Kreese, the necessary evil who dictates how his students should fight in the tournament.
For many people who grew up during the time “The Karate Kid” was in theaters or watched it ad infinitum on cable, sure the film is definitely nostalgic but even 26-years-later, the film still manages to hold up quite well and is still as enjoyable as when I first watched it in 1984. And to make things much more impressive, the film looks and sounds great on Blu-ray.
“The Karate Kid” has everything that people – young and old can appreciate. An enjoyable, inspiring film that will no doubt continue to entertain future generations. It’s pretty surreal to read the various message boards from people who were not even born with this film came out but yet has as much as passion as one who did grow up around that time period.
Overall, if you are a big fan of “The Karate Kid”, this Blu-ray is definitely worth owning. And if you enjoy the second film as well, “The Karate Kid I & II Collector’s Edition” is the version you most like would want to buy. Nevertheless, “The Karate Kid” is a definite classic and is definitely recommended!
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