The Karate Kid

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The Karate Kid series of movies stars Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the humble caretaker of a building complex who befriends a teenage boy, Daniel-san. Producer Jerry Weintraub said, "The affection that grows between the fatherless boy and the older man is a beautiful thing. Many young people, even with natural parents, would like to have the understanding that Daniel receives from Miyagi." [1].

1984 movie

Moving from New Jersey to California with his single mother, Daniel is a fatherless boy who fails to understand the social rules of his new school. But he's a bright kid who knows how to learn: start with the basics, like juggling a soccer ball without hands.

He falls afoul of Johnny a high school senior who presses his attentions on Alli, a girl who broke up with Johnny "weeks ago" (she broke up, "he didn't"). Sporting a black eye, he meets the fix-it man a of his new residence (Mr. Miyagi) who sees him practicing Karate moves out of a book. Miyagi's charming broken English belies his shrewd sense: "What happened eye? ... Lucky not hurt hand."

Daniel's mom is keen on the move to California and on her new job. She can't relate to Daniel's need to protect himself or to learn Karate; she can only relate to the "girl situation".

Miyagi teaches Daniel karate in a subtle, puzzling way. Basic blocking moves are disguised as movements of waxing a car, sanding a floor, painting a fence and painting a house. Thinking he's never going to learn and thing and that Miyagi is just taking advantage of him, Daniel is about to quit. He confronts Miyagi, who shouts "Wax on!" (the signal to move his right arm in a clockwise circle) while taking a mock swing at him. Daniel blocks the blow perfectly. After a few similar exchanges, Daniel realizes that his yard chores actually made him rather proficient in self-defense.

Meanwhile, Daniel has fallen in love with the ex-girlfriend of the leader of a group of relentless bullies taught karate by an ex-military man whose creed is "No mercy". To make peace, Miyagi arranges a truce so that Daniel can train for an upcoming karate tournament, where all differences are to be settled.

The movie has several interesting contrasts. Daniel's mother is as typical woman; she doesn't want him fighting, she'd rather tolerate sub-par social or living conditions. Miyagi teaches Daniel to be confident and stand up for himself. Daniel's mother has a car that she never fixes; it usually needs a push start. one of Miyagi's old cars is good enough for a magnificent gift.

Part II

Okinawa kerr.jpg

The second part continues seamlessly from the end of the tournament, much the same as Rocky II continues where Rocky I left off. Miyagi confronts the evil karate teacher, and gives him a "worse punishment" by showing mercy to the man who does not believe in forgiveness. The nose-tweaking scene is not to be missed!

Then Miyagi gets the news that his father is dying. He flies to his hometown, a tiny village in Okinawa which he had fled 45 years ago. A pacifist, Miyagi chose not to fight the wealthy Sato to prevent an arranged marriage with Yukie. The lesson for Daniel is not to put passion over principles.

Daniel decides to tag along, and the pair (master and pupil) are met at the airport by Sato's nephew, who kind of kidnaps them to a meeting with Sato. Once again, Miyagi chooses not to fight.

Reaching the village, they arrive at Yukie's house where Daniel meets Yukie's beautiful niece Kumiko. As Mr. Miyagi and Yukie rekindle their old romance, the teenagers start to fall in love (typical Hollywood boy-meets-girl plot). She starts to teach him the o-bon dance, they go sightseeing to an ancient seaside castle, she reveals her ambition to become a ballerina.

Sato's nephew Chozen, who took an instant dislike to Daniel, loses no opportunity to harass him and Kumiko. He bothers the pair when they are dancing in the village. Daniel then discovers he's been cheating the local vegetable farmers with false weights [1] In the city, Chozen coerces Daniel into betting on an ice-breaking contest, but Daniel wins $1,800.

Follow up

In the third and fourth movies, story values are thrown out and the films focus more on fighting, earning little money at the box office and low ratings from the critics. The aging Ralph Macchio's attempt to play Miyagi's protégé fails, and he is replaced by then-unknown Hillary Swank for the final film.


  1. Actually, the weights aren't metal and would therefore register more weight, not less, but you got to give them dramatic license.