The Brilliance of The Karate Kid, by the Mr.

Dana and I just watched The Karate Kid, a brilliant movie for so many reasons:
• Mr. Miyagi, one of the greatest mythical characters of all time (how good is this guy at karate, if he can wipe out 5 Kobra Kai black belts in 30 seconds? Is there anything higher than black belt?)
• Johnny, the ultimate 80’s movie bad guy. And his awesome pompador haircut.
• Daniel’s mother, with that great New Jersey accent and that beater station wagon. She makes a mysterious exit from the plot about halfway through the film though, only to make a token appearance at the All Valley Karate Tournament.
• An evil Vietnam War vet-turned Sensei, who is basically the anti-Miyagi. I think he may have been a take on the Rambo character, only he really is a bad guy who turns teenagers into bad guys.
• “Fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?” “NO, SENSEI!!”
• “You’re the best, around! And nothing’s ever gonna let you down!”
• “Johnny, get him a body bag!” (on that note, I challenge any of our readers to visit this site for longer than 30 seconds and tell me you don’t start to get creeped out: http://gethimabodybag.ytmnd.com/)
• The entire tournament, culminating with that Crane Technique kick to Johnny’s face. The director pulled out all the stops in that final scene, including Mr. Miyagi’s magical healing powers and the evil sensei’s schemes. The payoff at the end was great.

The film does have its funny oddities as well:

• The entire cast of high school-aged actors are clearly all in their 20’s. I think Hollywood has gotten better about this in the past 20 years.
• The fact that Mr. Miyagi is apparently a horrible employee. This isn’t originally my idea, I listened to a Sports Guy podcast on ESPN where they mentioned it. The pool is in horrible shape, and Miyagi’s in his workshop shaping banzai trees. And then you go to Miyagi’s house, and the place is spotless. Tarnishes the Miyagi mystique a bit, if you ask me. But the pool shot was funny.
• A screwy timeline. Miyagi doesn’t begin teaching karate to Daniel until the beginning of November, because it’s the school’s Halloween party where Miyagi defends Daniel from a 5-on-1 attack. The All Valley Karate Tournament takes place on December 19, so Daniel basically learns a high level of karate in 6 weeks. We think he did most of his training during the Thanksgiving break, because that’s where he came to Miyagi’s house for several days in a row and spiffed the place up in order to learn karate. By my estimation, Daniel spends at least 4 of those weeks learning to defense and balance. Then for two weeks he finalizes the basics, learns to punch, and picks up the Crane Technique (which I saw a kid try in a fight in grade school once, but to no avail. “If do right, no can defend,” says Miyagi).

In closing, I’d like to mention something that my friend Brett and I talked about a lot in college: you can literally watch this movie from the perspective that it’s about Johnny and not about Daniel. Johnny is starting his senior year, has all sorts of plans to make it go well, has lots of friends, etc. Then some kid moves in from Jersey, starts hitting on his girlfriend, and acts like he knows karate. Watch the movie again sometime, and tell me that Daniel isn’t provoking a lot of those confrontations with the Kobra Kai, especially at the Halloween party. But by the end of the film, it’s Johnny that wants to present the All Valley trophy to Daniel in a gesture of true sportsmanship. Johnny learns a valuable lesson. Daniel learns that you can cram a few karate lessons in over the course of six weeks and beat a bunch of guys that have probably been training for over a decade. But hey, I still love Karate Kid. It’s a top 5 sports movie.


Jean said...

Hahahaha... great post. I don't think I've ever seen the whole movie. Now I must.

And I see no problem with learning advanced karate in six weeks (and really the bulk of it in two). Haha! Oh, movies.

Philbot said...

Casey.... a confirmed nerd. I have seen the "Get him a Body Bag" site before, but for nostalgia went to it again. Jake(6) and Drew(3) were watching it with me and 20 seconds into it, Jake said 'Dad that's really annoying.'

Karis said...

So funny! It must be in the air. Since Braedon started Karate we have been living Karate at our house..Then my mom bought us the dvd..then it was on t.v. Then your post! What's up?? Classic movie. We watched the "body bag" part at least 5 times. Gotta love it!

teresa and the boys said...

When all of my friends were swooning over Kirk Cameron, Jon Bon Jovi, and Michael J. Fox, I... I was writing "Mrs. Teresa Machio" on all of my brown-paper-bag-covered text books. I'd have hidden in that shower curtain with him any day.

Fun post, Casey!

Southwick Family said...

Keep the posts coming, Casey! I want to know what Dana's take is on the movie. I watched the Karate Kid movie everyday after elementary school (from a VCR tape that my parents had copied) and I remember in college that Dana would sometimes break into her "Put him in a Body Bag" imitation. So obviously, she was into it as well. Dana? Dana?

Darci said...

I never thought I could find someone who is "enjoys" K.K more than my husband. HILARIOUS!

dana said...

Kristen, YES, I did have a thing for Karate Kid in college and still do! But to be honest, I really don't have much more to add. I agree with all his points!

Although I will add:
* how great is the restaurant scene where Daniel sees Johnny kissing Alli? He turns to walk away, runs into the server and has a big fall and then ENTIRE restaurant turns, points, and laughs and laughs. So unbelievable. The whole irony of it though, is that Daniel is dressed like a server. Why in the world is he wearing white pants with a white shirt (and a red Members Only jacket)?? Great date outfit.

Sweep the leg!

Casey said...

Something I wish I had added to my post:

There's a guy that makes it to the semi-finals of the tournament, and he's doing all sorts of acrobatic moves and kicks and stuff. Honestly, he looks like a video game character, because his moves were maybe more artistic than effective. When he gets to the semi-finals, Johnny just destroys him. As a kid, I remember thinking, "man, in real life I think that guy would have won the whole tournament". As an adult, I've gone the other way with it. He's a cirque d'soliel performer. I'm not sure he even knew karate.

Toughskins said...

One of the great movies of all time, but I can only watch it from Johnny's point of view these days.

I do not like that Laruso kid.

Jessica said...

Great post! It has been *MANY* years since I have seen the movie, and I liked it, but still have some uncomfortable memories of it. One: I believe there is a scene where Mr. Miyagi is drunk, sad about his dead wife or something. As a seven-year-old, I was very ill-at-ease during this occurence- didn't his mother teach him alcohol was bad? Also, Johnny (who I found hot in a frightening sort of way) got kicked in the nose a time or two and never bothered to wipe away the blood, but let it run down his face. Was quite uncomfortable with this as well. He could at least use his sleeve, I reasoned. Finally, the hideous apartment building they moved into. To this day, I can't see apartments in the valley without studiously inspecting them and wracking my memories to decipher if I have finally found it.

Miriam Oh said...

i really enjoyed reading that analysis. very nicely presented too.