The Karate Kid I & II - Collector's Edition John G. Avildsen

The Karate Kid I & II - Collector's Edition John G. Avildsen
While not the most quotable teen movie of the '80s, The Karate Kid still had quite an impact at the time. From the "wax on, wax off" scene to Ralph Macchio's championship-winning Crane pose, it was a film that struck a chord with audiences back in 1984 when it first hit screens. There's a remake coming out this summer starring Will Smith's kid and Jackie Chan, making this an even better time to watch the original, now on Blu-Ray, if only to ensure that you don't get an urge to see the new version. Even after 26 years, The Karate Kid remains a great movie. It manages to surpass the usual teenage film nonsense by creating characters that are very easy to care about. Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) moves to a new town with his mother, and has difficulty fitting in. He finds himself bullied by the ex-boyfriend of the girl he likes and tries to learn karate to deal with it. Enter Mr. Miyagi (played wonderfully by Pat Morita), the eccentric handyman in their apartment building who trains Daniel via a series of apparently menial chores that also turn out to teach not only karate, but other valuable life lessons. While it sounds a little clichéd, it rises above thanks to the great performances. Morita is a revelation and deserved his Best Supporting Actor nomination for that year's Oscars, and it's the friendship between the two main characters that drives the film. The story is skilfully written to ensure that it's pretty much impossible to root for the wrong side. Daniel is bullied, beat up and generally put upon until his chance for redemption at the tournament at the end of the film. And best of all, it makes the happy ending an absolute necessity, which doesn't come across as cheesy no matter how predictable. It's a warm, satisfying movie. Also included in the box set is the follow-up from 1986, The Karate Kid II. The sequel picks up right where the first finishes and follows a similar plot, but transfers the action to Japan where Mr. Miyagi visits his dying father, bringing Daniel along for the ride. It relies on all the usual tricks to set up a final battle, with Daniel catching the eye of a girl, alienating a gang and so on. It doesn't add to the first movie and lacks much of the genuine sweetness that made the original film work. It's definitely the lesser of the two. Both films look pretty good on Blu-Ray, considering their age, and the sound is perfectly good, although there's hardly anything to test it. Both discs have a "Blu-Pop" feature that throws trivia bubbles on the screen from time to time, and also contains onscreen interview clips with Macchio and other cast members. The first film has a commentary track with the director, writer and two main stars, plus a quartet of decent featurettes, including a fascinating one on cultivating bonsai trees. The second film only has a short behind-the-scenes feature, which isn't particularly interesting, but at least they didn't include the third movie in the series or the even worse fourth movie starring a then unknown Hillary Swank. (Sony)