The Karate Kid — A Retrospective

Trapped in a house full of munchkins with a sinus headache and feeling decidedly less than lerious, I am reminded that I have yet to do a movie review of The Karate Kid.

I’m worried that once the night-time cold medication kicks in, I’ll be unable to remember all the details of the film that was such an integral part of my formative years. I must get it all down now. It may be hard to believe, but the following synopsical-review is from memory, with no source material of any kind. I have not seen the movie since I was a junior high student in Southern Alberta. Calgarians like sanding the floor and martial arts.

The film has an amazing cast including Elizabeth Shue and Daniel Laruso, also known as Daniel Son. According to the film, wise old Japanese men think every young boy is their son. It takes place in New Jersey or California. Come to think of it, everyone is blond in the movie and my mom is not blond and she’s from Jersey so either it takes place in California or it was directed by The Beach Boys or my mom is lying about her place of birth.

No, I think Daniel Son grew up in New Jersey and he moved to California with his mom in their station wagon so he could listen to Cruel Cruel Summer (not the Ace of Base version. It hadn’t been invented yet.) on a ghetto-blaster while people played soccer on the beach and ground his face into the sand.

His mom has a bad perm. Good then, bad in retrospect. Their station wagon has wood paneling and needs to be pushed to start. He works as a waiter/butler guy until he gets fired for throwing spaghetti on rich people and he’s skinny but highly attractive to 13-year old girls. These factors combine to make him a total loser and therefore the ideal underdog romantic leading man.

Come to think of it, I’ve always liked em skinny…and I’ve always liked em named Daniel.

So he gets beat up a lot. He walks to school. He gets beat up. He eats lunch. He gets beat up. He wears the coolest Halloween costume in history (a bubble-blowing shower stall) and consequently gets massacred. Everyone at his school goes around at night dressed up like skeletons and they’re all karate black belts at a local dojo where the sensei’s life’s work is to train evil high school skeleton bullies to rule the world.

They do.

Daniel-son gets saved by his apartment janitor. Oh. That also makes him a loser. He lives in an apartment and has come in contact with a janitor. I think you’re still okay if you happen to periodically rub shoulders with a butler but janitors are right out.

Luckily the janitor is a karate master who has been chillin’ in the basement, carving miniature shrubberies, eating flies with chopsticks and waiting for his next pupil to surface. He owns a beautiful home and a fleet of vintage cars but has no one to wax the cars, sand the floor or paint the fence. He sees Daniel as an ideal slave and sufficiently unwilling apprentice. It’s no fun to train a student who comes to you willingly. Half the joy of mentoring someone is humbling them into submission, while mumbling incoherent sound bites of ancient wisdom and watching them do all of your housework.

In some ways, I see The Karate Kid as a flawless parenting guide.

Another truth I found in this movie that’s served me well is that the best person to date is your boyfriend’s arch-nemesis. It ups the drama and you get to scream more. By the time the next movie comes around, you’ll probably be dating HIS nemesis so that he’s free to move to Japan and date Mr. Miyagi’s zucchini-farming relatives.

As he does his sanding, waxing and painting, Daniel-Son becomes a karate master and scores a sweet ride with which to take Elizabeth Shue on a date to a montage of amusement park rides.

My throat hurts.

He ends up facing down his enemies in the ring at some big tournament where the evil dojo master encourages his legion of Aryan-Nationesque foot soldiers to maim Daniel slowly so that he ends up like the black knight from Monte Python by the end, spurting blood and standing on one leg. The baddest high school dojo kid is encouraged to “SWEEP THE LEG” and others heckle to “put him in a body bag.”

Mr. Miyagi performs some black magic in the locker room and Daniel wins the fight, the respect and the girl, who proceeds to run him over with an overpowering hug. The skeletons cry, Mr. Miyagi almost smiles and someone in a suit gives Daniel Son the Stanley Cup.

A few more things I remember are that no one is impressed with Daniel Laruso’s fabulous BMX stylings. I’m not sure why. I think they forgot they were in the 80s. I also think there is something about Mr. Miyagi being a widowered WWII vet and I’m fairly sure someone burns his house to the ground. When this happens, Daniel Son may or may not yell “NOOOOOOOO!” and cry a lot.

It’s a good one. Rent it this weekend. No, I was not paid by The Karate Kid or any of its subsidiaries to write this post.

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33 Responses to The Karate Kid — A Retrospective

  1. Steph says:

    You are hilarious!!!

  2. Tess says:

    why watch when you have recapped it so well?

    wax off

  3. allysha says:

    I’m with Tess. I just had the whole movie replayed in my mind while I read that and got a good chuckle. I have a sore throat, too. So I hope we get better, soon.

  4. jeana says:

    Love your movie reviews. You are so stinking funny.

  5. Julie Q. says:

    You make me laugh. You make me cry. Such a *sniff* touching review. *sniff, sniff* Darn I’ve got a cold too.

    Wax on…wax off…wax on…wax off…

  6. You know what always bugged me about that movie? Elizabeth Shue was BIGGER than Daniel Son. That always distracted me terribly.

  7. KimC says:

    Once again I’m wiping spit off the monitor and explaining to the kids why I was sitting alone in my bedroom, laughing maniacally. Thanks for that.

  8. Shalee says:

    Okay, I loved that movie. I so wanted to take martial arts after seeing it. I had the crane kick down PAT baby!

    And because I’m weird to the nth degree, I had the hugest crush on Ralph Macchio. The freakiest part is that although he is 10 years older than me, he still looks younger than I do. Do I know how to pick em or what?

    I feel like catching flies with chopsticks now.

    Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.

    Oh, and feel better.

  9. Shannon took my comment. I thought, when she knocked him over with her hug, “Well of COURSE she knocked him over… she outweighs him by 30 pounds.”

    I’m linking this to my faves. 🙂 Love it. And then I’m going to go wax, paint, sand or Banzai-tree-trim something. That movie is so inspiring.

  10. Sketchy says:

    This movie is the sole reason we love the Bonsai Gardens in our local Botanical Gardens…BONSAAIII!

  11. Amy says:

    2 important parts to not forget….the date night at “Golf n Stuff” and “Sweep the leg!!”

  12. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    Um, not to rain on anyone’s parade but Mr. Miyagi wasn’t calling him “Daniel Son.” He was calling him “Daniel-san.” -San is a common Japanese honorific suffix.

  13. Anne/kq says:

    I was just gonna say that, DoE.

    That and were we talking about the Aryan Nation? I wasn’t sure.

    I never saw the movie– but I read the book. In retrospect, this wasn’t the world’s greatest reading material. But it was there. (At my daycare.) And I’d read everything else. I’m a bibliophile, and I can’t see a book and not read it.

  14. DoE and Anne, tee hee hee. I totally know that. I was writing it the way I remembered it as a 10-year-old. 🙂

    And thanks for the spelling correction. I don’t often read or write about that group. I’ll go change it.

  15. Anne/kq says:

    You’re welcome. I wouldn’t hear about them much either, if I could help it. Unfortunately, my younger brother has some undesirable attitudes and beliefs right now. 🙁 I am hoping he will outgrow them. He at least knows enough to not talk that crap around my kids if he wants to see them, and to restrain himself around me.

  16. Amanda says:

    That was hilarious! It takes me back to the lazy, care free days of being a kid.

  17. Rachelle says:

    Ah, the movies of our childhood. How come I never liked this movie?

  18. You are completely mental. I love you. That is the best review ever!

  19. Amber says:

    Ahhh, blast from the past from a fellow Calgarian.

    Daniel-son. Yum Yum!!!

  20. Michelle says:

    One of my favorite 80s movies–wax on, wax off.

  21. wendy says:

    I remember getting to tag along with my big sister and her cool friends to go see this at the movies. Anne – I also read the fake-o book. Why? I don’t know.

    I rented it for my 12 year old to watch this summer. We giggled through it, and I would just like to mention that though the girl is bigger than him, it’s hard to tell how much of it is height and how much of it is her hair. She also appears to be about 5 years older. I think I need to see if I can find the others in the series – how many were there? 3?

  22. No Cool Story says:

    I just had the craziest vision ever: you (Queen of Blogtopia) writing synopsical-reviews and me, little me, smiling and being happy forever and ever until the end of time.

    I loved it 😀
    Dude, you rock!

  23. Tressa says:

    I love that movie muchly….my brothers & I watched it over & over & over…though I do believe it’s EliSabeth…because if I ever had a girl, I loved EliSabeth for her middle name 😉

  24. sarah hart kingston says:

    I love this movie. I rented it a couple of years ago, just to be silly, and I was suprised that’s it’s actually good. We’ve seen it a couple of times since, but it doesn’t have quite enough karate-action for my 4-year-old. He’s not quite to the “formative years,” when he will be capable of remembering things, so I will try again when he’s about 8. (I’m glossing over the fact that I’m constantly trying to teach him and the 2-year-old that violence is not an acceptable way to respond to others.)

    And good job on the memory. I think you must be superhuman. Oh, wait. I already knew that.

  25. Adam says:

    Can’t breathe!! Too busy laughing!!! We watched that movie too many times to retain our sanity. Love the results on your blog though.

  26. surcie says:

    Dude, you make me want to see it again!

    Have you seen “The Outsiders”? One of my favorite 80s flicks. I know I’d love your review of it.

    Just read your post on the flood festivities. I hope you’re finally beginning to dry out.

  27. Chrissy says:

    I watched “Say Anything” this afternoon. It brought back sooooo many memories.

    Was “Karate Kid” the one with “The Glory of Love” song by Peter Cetera? Or, was it the sequel? We danced to that song at our wedding. I was such an ’80’s kid!

  28. Leslie says:

    Thank you for a wonderful trip down memory lane. I think my brother and i watched this movie every afternoon after school for like a year (we had one of the very first VCRs and HBO). We also tried to kill each other with our awesome karate skeelz learned from watching the movie a thousand times.

    “The Glory of Love” was in the sequel.

  29. Your memory for detail is simply uncanny! You’ve captured the very ESSENCE of this film. Amazing.

  30. EmLouisa says:

    Okay. Seriously. I am laughing so hard I’m almost crying. You are too funny! TOO FUNNY, DYM! I also loved Karate Kid. And we are always yelling to “put him in the body bag” at our house. I am not sure why. And admitting it kind of makes me feel like we are doing something wrong. Maybe we are. Hmmm….

    Off to ponder my soul…

  31. Carrie says:

    This is my first time here, love it so far!! And what a coincidence.. Today I linked here from Antique Mommy, but I read Elizabeth, at Motherhood is not for Wimps every day, so I know you from the site blog. AND, I was just floored when you mentioned that you have lived in Calgary, I live in Lethbridge, and grew up in Magrath. WOW, that’s weird, and I also thought you looked a bit familiar in your pic on the parenting site! Do you know anyone from lethbridge and area?

  32. mother of the wild boys says:

    DYM, I fell into the blogger black hole this month, and so I’m just catching up with you. Thanks for recaping my all-time favorite movie, you did a great job! Karate Kid is now on DVD if you are interested.
    By the way, we refer back to Karate Kid in our family quite often. Two of the most common occurances are:
    1-when one of our (wild) boys gets hurt doing a dumb move, and we know that he’ll be ok but he’s crying, we always do the Miyagi “black magic” move complete with sound effects to get them smiling again. It actually works!
    2-If my husband or i notice one of those kids who is either a) highly obnoxious or b) very blond with the light eyebrows and the crazy-blue eyes, we always point them out to each other by saying, “Look, it’s the ‘Put him in a bodybag Johnny’ kid!”

    Ps- our oldest boy has light blond hair, almost unnoticable eyebrows, and his eyes are sometimes crazy-looking, and he can be obnoxious. Moral of the story: Don’t make fun of someone unless you want to end up with a kid just like them!

  33. People who understands bonsai knows that practices of wiring is used not to bind the tree and restrict growth, as is sometimes imagined, but to redirect growth.

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