Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) is the new kid in town. Daniel and his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), have just moved in to Reseda from Newark. Their new life in California will require them both to adjust in order to succeed. Daniel quickly befriends a group of local boys and one night at the beach he meets Ali (Elisabeth Shue), who he quickly becomes enamored with. This new friendship doesn’t sit well with Ali’s ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and begins to continuously harass Daniel. During a Halloween dance, Daniel pulls a prank on Johnny and the persecution begins. While getting a beating, Mr. Miyagi, an apartment building maintenance worker, steps in and saves Daniel from further punishment. From this point on Daniel’s life is set to take a different route, Mr. Miyagi agrees to teach Daniel the art of Karate to defend himself from the bullying and participate in the All-Valley Karate Tournament.
The Karate Kid is another prime example of the great 80s filmmaking. The film didn’t just appeal to one particular crowd it has a very inspirational theme that is sure to move anyone. The underdog story has been told so many times and yet The Karate Kid still manages to capture the attention of those who saw it when it was originally released. The film is quite long, clocking at nearly 2 hours, and paced at a slow pace. That’s not a bad thing though as the character development is exceptional. The chemistry between Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita is exceptional and it’s evident throughout the film. Pat Morita was the key for this film to succeed; his presence brought some good structure for the film and helped to shape it until the climatic end in the Karate tournament.
Ralph Macchio might not be a name that many new viewers will recognize as he didn’t really do much after The Karate Kid, but his performance as the scrawny boy who keeps getting bullied is played accordingly. As I previously mentioned Pat and Ralph shared a good and it only helped understand his role. The bond between master and apprentice is clearly shown to the viewer with each actor providing good performances to complement each other. But all this couldn’t be over without having an equally inspiring score to keep the blood pumping during the climatic ending. Everything around the film just simply screams the 80s. Everything from the 80s is captured exceptionally to say the least. This fan favorite is sure to please the fans for sure.
The Karate Kid arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG 4-AVC encode framed at 1.85:1. This will be one of those films that will probably annoy certain viewers, why? Some viewers have high expectations on video transfers and sometimes fail to acknowledge different aspects. This film is not meant to look like any of today’s films and with this being said let’s begin. First thing you will probably notice right from the beginning is the amount of grain the film has. Obviously, this is just to keep the original look of the film. Colors remain very neutral lifelike, they don’t stand out or but they aren’t lackluster. Reds do look a bit overdone and ten to stand out more than all over colors. Black levels are well reproduced. Detail reproduction is exceptional, nothing eye popping, but it looks good throughout. The image has a few soft spots in several scenes, there is a heavy layer of grain as previously mentioned, and has a few other issues, minor issues, but overall The Karate Kid looks very good on Blu-ray.
The Karate Kid arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. I personally think this could have a nicer rear support sound, but fact is the film is over 20 years old so with that being said the final product sounds great. Dialogue can sometimes appear to be overwhelmed by the surrounding action, but for the most part it’s clear. The fronts are constantly being used and feature some great directionality. The rears are rarely used, but when called upon they do a great job. Is not the best sounding Blu-ray, but considering the film’s age, it sounds great.
The Karate Kid contains a good amount of supplements. It’s nice to see a fan favorite catalog receive a decent treatment in the supplement department. While not on high definition they can all still be enjoyed. Check below for the list of supplements.
Audio Commentary – features Director John G. Avildsen, Writer Robert Mark Kamen, Pat Machida, and Ralph Macchio. This isn’t as informative, but nevertheless it offers some good commentary from the filmmakers and actors.
The Way of the Karate Kid: Part 1 – features more commentary from cast and crew and deals with everything surrounding the film like the plot, the shooting, casting, etc.
The Way of the Karate Kid: Part 2 – features a look at the director and his views for the film among other things. Part 1 and Part 2 are definitely worth a look.
Beyond the Form – features around the training of the cast, the art of Karate, and much more.
East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook – features Composer Bill Conti speaking about the score of the film.
Life of Bonsai – features Ben Oki speaking about the tree that is featured in the film.
Blu-Pop – This is a new feature from Sony and it displays trivia and cast commentary in pop up screens as the viewer is watching the film.
Previews – features movie trailers for “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”, “Extraordinary Measures”, “Facing the Giants” and “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep”
The Karate Kid is possibly one of my favorite films of all time, it’s not perfect and not the movie of the year either, but contains such a great inspirational story. The Karate Kid features an incredible performance from Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. This Blu-ray release is exceptional featuring a good video and audio transfer that is sure to please the fans. The supplements included are worth the while so I suggest for everyone to give them a try. The Karate Kid is highly recommended.
The screen captures are only a small representation of what the Blu-ray looks like and are not representative of Blu-ray’s true quality.