The Karate Kid (1984) IMDb

Categorization

Action, specifically pubertal martial-arts action in which the protagonist gets his driver’s license, a father figure, a nice car, a girl and victory, in that order.

Subject

A boy moves from Newark to California and gets bullied by some bigger kids for hitting on an ex. All of them know some karate, but their concept of it is butch and Americanized. The bullies win through numbers and practice. Fortunately, our hero’s new apartment complex has a Japanese janitor, sad and lazy old “Miajee”, pointlessly trying to catch a fly with his chopsticks and trimming strange little plants.

Commentary

The main source of interest here is the clash between American misunderstanding and the authenticity represented by Miyagi, but that authenticity is undermined by near-mystical healing powers and the Yoda-like humour of the old man, who makes endearing little comments like “yoshi”. Queer-theoreticians may have a field day here; a Swedish TV channel (ZTV) ran a trailer for this film in the 00’s, memorably set to the song The Look of Love and showing only the boy and the janitor in intimate situations.

fiction moving picture

Sequel:

The Karate Kid Part II (1986) IMDb