Karate Kid, The (1984)

karatekid_004Ralph Macchio played Italian kid Daniel Larusso, a weakling adolescent who was forced to leave his friends and school in Newark and move to California when his mother took a new job there in a rocket computer company.

Daniel was bullied by a local gang called the Cobras, who worked out in a karate school, and so became determined to learn self-defence.

Aiding him in this goal were his two new friends: a pretty girl named Ali (Elisabeth Shue) - who was not only the most popular girl in the new high school, but also the ex-steady of the karate team's aggressive head honcho - and Mr. Myagi, a kindly old Japanese handyman (Noriyuki Morita ) who dispensed philosophy between instructions in spiritual enlightenment.

karatekid_019Through expert coaching, Daniel learned balance, touch, control, and spiritual as well as physical maturity, while the other boys in the karate school only learned kicks and punches as a way of pulverising their opponents.

The script was woefully formulaic and yet managed to press all the right emotional buttons with audiences.

The Karate Kid was a teenage Rocky (John G Avildsen directed both films) with the same flaws and the same uplifting underdog hero values.

A 1986 sequel followed, imaginatively named The Karate Kid : Part II.

Ralph Macchio
Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita
Elisabeth Shue

John G Avildsen