back when the original karate kid movies showed
I kinda think that everybody loves a good underdog movie.
The Karate Kid (1984) is in my opinion one of the best feelgood movies of the '80s. It's a classic coming-of-age, character development plot, a sort of Cinderella story complete with a Fairy Godmother type, but with a lot of testosterone.
It had two of the most memorable movie characters - the nice-guy antihero Daniel played by Ralph Macchio; and the steady, wise sensei Mr. Miyagi, played by Pat Morita. Morita's Oscar-nominated Miyagi became a sort of legend; he set the tone for movie sensei roles.
It became so popular that wax on, wax off and the crane pose became a sort of Gen-X inside joke.
A sequel came out in 1986 and a Part 3 in 1989 - those probably weren't as inspiring or compelling as the first movie (Part 2 was particularly mushy) but were just as loved.
(In fact they were so loved, producers coughed up The Next Karate Kid in 1994 to milk the fans - sans Daniel and starring a then-unknown Hilary Swank. An utter flop. I don't even consider it as part of the franchise. The trilogy is fine)
I think one reason why The Karate Kid was / is so lovable (despite it's unimaginative title) was because everyone could relate to Daniel, the underdog. We were drawn in by Daniel's nice naivete and were hooked by his need to be something more. It tickled the dreamers and idealists in us as we watched him grow with the aid of an unlikely but awesome mentor, until in the end he kicked a** and showed those nasty rich guys who used to pick on him - all while still staying unbelievably nice.
Weren't we all tense and inwardly cheering with the crowd while he was doing that crane thing in the end?
And of course, the lovable antihero got the girl (played by Elisabeth Shue, who always seemed to play leading man's girlfriend in '80s and early '90s movies).
The movie even came with an unforgettable pop-rock soundrack - how much more '80s could you get than Moment of Truth? It was really fitting for the story. But the hopeless romantic in me liked Peter Cetera's uber-cheesy Glory of Love in the sequel: I am a man who will fight for your honor ... I'll be the hero you've been dreaming of ... Tsss. I don't even remember the theme song for the third movie.
The Karate Kid is forever enshrined; it had / has the right combination for a must-watch, must-have family classic. (It's been Robot Chicken-ed, and that says something). It's one of those movies I wouldn't mind marathoning over and over again. It's something from my childhood that I would love to bequeath to the next generation of children.
But wait - the plot thickens ...
Some time ago when I heard that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith were producing a Karate Kid remake, I was less than excited. Remakes have often been cataclysmic letdowns.
On top of that, I felt like they were defiling a well-respected memory, taking advantage of an already-existent fanbase and attempting to milk Gen-Xers by playing on their nostalgia. The movie was even using the same title though it featured kung-fu and not karate. I was especially offended when I found out that it was starring the Smiths' own son Jaden, who I thought awfully young for the lead -- and was this kid supposed to be a bigger star than Mr. Jackie Chan to be given top billing? They were even using Jackie Chan to draw viewers.
I made up my mind that this Kung-Fu Kid movie was going to utterly suck and I wasn't going to watch it.
It's just that the Hubby and I were hanging out with his parents last Sunday and they wanted to watch it, so we gave in and bought tickets.
... And boy, I was not disappointed.
The Karate Kid (2010) rocks! Props to! [NO SPOILERS HERE] Finally, a remake at par with the original.
This 2010 movie works on the same plot, and I'm glad for that, even if it was about kung-fu. It's minus the corny '80s dialogue of course, but I noticed it stuck with a huge bulk of the script, infused with some elements that were obviously Will Smith in attitude. It paid homage to original Karate Kid trademarks such as wax on, wax off and the old catching-a-fly-with-chopsticks trick, but those were not presented at all in the expected cliche way. Dre Parker (the new Daniel, played by Jaden Smith) did not have a crane thing at the end, but he did have something else that might be a little less dramatic but just as good.
And yes, it's fitting for Jaden Smith to have top billing.
It's just as entertaining and inspiring as the original Karate Kid, but perhaps a bit more exhilarating because of the faster pace. I'd love to watch it over again, even just for the martial arts sequences (and those Chinese boys really steal the show - those kids are unbelievable). I've been telling my friends to watch it.
But nothing will ever compare to the tandem of Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi of course.