Enter the Miyagi-verse with 'The Karate Kid Collection'

Practice your "wax on" and "wax off" with Exclaim!'s handy series roundup
Enter the Miyagi-verse with 'The Karate Kid Collection'
In partnership with Sony Pictures

Before Johnny Lawrence opened his very own Cobra Kai dojo in 2018's nostalgic TV series Cobra Kai, there was Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid. While there have been many franchise forms — a surprising four video games, an animated series and a 2010 remake — it can all be traced back to one canon, known affectionately to fans as "the Miyagi-verse."

Of course, this paints a confusing picture of the Karate Kid series; but not to worry! Sony Pictures has brought together the first three films in the franchise with The Karate Kid Collection, a six-disc, 4K Ultra HD set for maximum enjoyment. Not unlike our trip to the Underworld, Exclaim! will once again break things down for you. Enter the Miyagi-verse!

The Karate Kid (1984)

If you were a kid in the '70s and '80s, you knew who Pat Morita was. If not by name, you saw him in tons of stuff, notably as the proprietor of Arnold's on the beloved sitcom Happy Days. When he was cast as Mr. Miyagi in 1984's The Karate Kid, it had that John Travolta / Pulp Fiction effect; it revitalized his career all the way to a Best Supporting Actor nom. But it also launched the career of Ralph Macchio, making him one of the most recognizable faces of 1980s mainstream cinema. 

Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, a teenager starting school in Reseda, CA. Before long, he's crushing on Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), and this leads to a schoolyard beating by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), a black belt from the Cobra Kai dojo. But fear not! Like a superhero, Mr. Miyagi intervenes and defeats Daniel's pursuers with ease. As it happens, Miyagi is the handyman in the building Daniel and his mom had moved into. It's here where they connect for the first time, and Miyagi eventually agrees to teach the bullied teen the art of karate. "Wax on," anyone?

At the risk of revealing a 38-year-old spoiler, Daniel takes it all the way to a tournament showdown with nemesis Johnny Lawrence. Through perseverance and the classic scissor-leg kick, Daniel is victorious against the comparatively vicious martial art of Cobra Kai. And just like that, The Karate Kid becomes a classic in the feel-good sports genre; the underdog kid who succeeds in the end, the triumph of heart over harsh violence. Director John G. Avildsen and screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen were approached by Columbia Pictures after the success of a little project named Rocky. The formula proved successful, and The Karate Kid would be one of the highest-grossing films of 1984.



The Karate Kid Part II (1986)

When sleeper hits awaken, there are sure to be sequels. So of course, 1986 ushers in The Karate Kid Part II. With the directing/screenwriting team of Avildsen and Kamen in tow, Part II once again follows Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi, but this time it's more about Miyagi's journey. We begin immediately following the All-Valley Karate Tournament at the end of The Karate Kid, where Johnny Lawrence's sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) attacks his star pupil in frustration. Miyagi has none of it, and humiliates Kreese with passive immobilization. While not pivotal to this story's arc, it may have laid the groundwork for the current Cobra Kai series, as a wakeup call for Johnny Lawrence. 

Six months later, Miyagi and Daniel are roommates. Yeah, that's weird, but it's because Daniel's mom needed to take a job in Fresno, CA. Complicating matters, Miyagi receives notice that his father is dying, so with Daniel in tow, he returns to his home village on Japan's Okinawa Island. All this sets the stage for his own confrontation. We learn that Miyagi left his home because he loved a woman who was arranged to marry his best friend, Sato. From this classic love triangle, Sato challenged Miyagi to a fight TO THE DEATH! So what did Miyagi do? Moved to California, of course. 

Daniel has his own adventure in Japan, with a baked-in antagonist and a new love interest. You can probably guess how that nets out. But as a 'martial arts drama', it works, and audiences responded to the tune of $130 million worldwide at the box office. That makes Part II one of the highest grossing films of 1986. As film historian Leonard Maltin wrote, the film was "made palatable by winning performances." But that box office haul? Delicious.



The Karate Kid Part III (1989)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and that's the general strategy behind The Karate Kid Part III. We return to Reseda, CA, to learn that Cobra Kai's John Kreese is cancelled after assaulting Johnny Lawrence. I mean, he beat up a kid, so yeah. Even the '80s saw that as unsavoury. We also get introduced to new villain Terry Silver, a wealthy businessman responsible for founding Cobra Kai. He aims to re-establish his dojo that once dominated the region by exacting revenge on Daniel and Miyagi. 

The Karate Kid Part III is a messy, but essential chapter of the Miyagi-verse. It's when we learn the most about 'kata', the Miyagi style of fighting, and we see more of the bonsai tree, a sort of MacGuffin. And, Cobra Kai offers a back-to-basics force to contend with. In the end, Part III didn't enjoy the box office success of the previous two. But it's a necessary instalment, clearing the path for other entries of the franchise.



The Karate Kid Collection from Sony Pictures includes more than just these iconic films. As we've come to expect, there are loads of added features to check out too:

The Karate Kid

4K ULTRA HD DISC:
  • Mastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with Dolby Vision
  • English Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + theatrical stereo audio
  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Remembering The Karate Kid" – A reflective look back with stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Martin Kove
  • Theatrical Trailer
BLU-RAY DISC:
  • Feature presented in high definition
  • English 5.1
  • Blu-Pop™ Pop-Up Track
  • Commentary with director John G. Avildsen, writer Robert Mark Kamen and actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita
  • "The Way of The Karate Kid" multi-part making-of featurette
  • "Beyond the Form" featurette
  • "East Meets West: A Composer's Notebook"
  • "Life of Bonsai" featurette

The Karate Kid Part II

4K ULTRA HD DISC:
  • Newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with Dolby Vision
  • English Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + theatrical stereo audio
  • NEW: Commentary with Ralph Macchio and Tamlyn Tomita
  • NEW: Deleted Scene
  • Theatrical Trailer
BLU-RAY DISC:
  • Feature presented in high definition
  • English 5.1
  • Blu-Pop™ Pop-Up Track
  • Original featurette: "The Sequel"

The Karate Kid Part III

4K ULTRA HD DISC:
  • Newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with Dolby Vision
  • English Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + theatrical stereo audio
  • Theatrical Trailer
BLU-RAY DISC:
  • Feature presented in high definition
  • English 5.1