The Karate Kid (1984) Review: Between Self-Defense and Self-Proving


 Long before the remake in 2010, “The Karate Kid” had already stolen the hearts of audiences when it first appeared to the public in 1984. This film managed to present an entertaining and philosophical element of martial arts.

Besides being made a remake, "The Karate Kid" has also become a franchise through a number of sequels and series, one of which is "Cobra Kai" which is still airing today. This film also succeeded in making karate so popular in America.

The 1984 version of "The Karate Kid" tells the story of a transfer teenager named Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) who often gets bullied by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and his friends. Daniel always failed to avoid the bully Johnny, until one moment he was saved by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) who is none other than the manager of the apartment where Daniel lives. In addition to saving Daniel, Miyagi also later became Daniel's karate teacher.

"The Karate Kid" 1984 is presented with a forward flow through a fitting flow. The premise of the story is simple, namely about proving the self of a teenager who was bullied. As for what makes the premise interesting is the medium of proving the teenager's self, namely karate. A new thing for the size of American films at that time.

The first 30 minutes of the film will show scenes of bullying experienced by Daniel. After that, the audience will listen more to Daniel's karate learning process. In this film, karate is not only a complement to the story, but also part of the story itself. Karate is also shown in two ways in this film, namely the pragmatic side and the philosophical side.

The pragmatic side is represented by the Cobra Kai karate school where Johnny studied. In that place, karate was taught as an art to attack opponents mercilessly. While the more philosophical side is represented by Mr. Miyagi. According to Miyagi, karate is a martial art that is used to protect oneself, not attack others. Karate is also not about winning and losing, but about balance and surviving. Besides offering karate from a philosophical point of view, Mr. Miyagi also displays an unusual training method.

(Spoiler alert)

Instead of teaching Daniel how to fight in karate, he ordered Daniel to do a number of menial jobs, from washing cars to painting fences and houses. This made Daniel annoyed, but the annoyance disappeared after he was told indirectly what the teacher meant. (Spoiler end) .

The two karate philosophies were then brought together in a karate tournament presented in the final third of the film. In this tournament, many karate scenes were shot intensely, especially the matches played by Daniel and Johnny. To make it even more exciting, the scenes were then reinforced with musical presentations curated by Bil Conti. The music presentation uses a lot of 80s nuances, one of which is the song “You're The Best” by Joe Esposito. The song is also the main soundtrack of this film

Towards the end, the karate match scene was given a little drama element, in order to raise the emotions of the audience. The film was then closed with a dramatic match and a heartwarming ending, although the ending was a bit short.

In terms of acting, Ralph Macchio is able to play Daniel LaRusso who is clumsy, a bit timid, and a little stubborn. He is also able to demonstrate Daniel's clumsy karate moves. All of these achievements were extraordinary considering that at that time Ralph was a debutant. Pat Morita also managed to play the role of Mr. Miyagi is wise, a role that is actually far from the image of Morita at that time which tends to be attached to comedic roles. His success as Mr. Miyagi earned him an Academy Award nomination in 1984.

In addition to performing well for their respective roles, the two are also able to create interesting chemistry. Seeing the togetherness of the two characters they play makes the audience feel that they are not just teachers and students, but also fathers and children.

Several other casts were also able to perform well, one of which was Martin Kove. Although he doesn't appear too often, he manages to play the character of John Kreese, the leader of Cobra Kai who is tough and always justifies any means to win.

The 1984 version of “The Karate Kid” is both a classic and the parent of the The Karate Kid franchise itself. This film has a simple premise, is entertaining, and has philosophical elements, especially about karate. This film can be seen again on Netflix.

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