The Karate Kid All-Valley Championship

I have mixed feelings about the idea of a remake of my favorite movie of all time, but I’m going to see it. I’ll post a review, but first my thoughts on the original…

I will always remember where I was when I first saw The Karate Kid. In the living room of a friend’s house I sat stunned in a black recliner, overcome by excitement, wonder, and amazement. The year was 1986 and I was 9. I had seen movies before, probably quite a few. This was the first time one actually captivated me.

I was at just the right age for the movie to be a perfect storm. I was old enough to be emotionally involved, but not old enough to see the big payoff coming. The scene where Mr. Miyagi reveals to Daniel that the chores he had been doing were actually karate training blew my mind. I volunteered many times that summer to wash my Dad’s car. I also stained our fence, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t need it. The movie’s soundtrack provided an inspirational backdrop for many football and basketball games in my backyard – I had to buy more than one replacement cassette tape. The tournament scenes were reenacted with friends and unfortunate little brothers who involuntarily ended up playing the part of Johnny Lawrence. Thousands have created their own Daniel Larusso or Cobra Kai costumes for Halloween, and all kinds of merchandise is still made and sold on eBay.

I don’t know how the film would have affected me if I were older when I first saw it. What I do know is that 25+ years after its release it’s still relevant. I don’t think a week goes by without the film being referenced in some way, whether someone is quoting or otherwise paying homage to it. Simply put, the movie is timeless. There is really nothing negative you can say about it. The screenplay, casting, and score are flawless. It doesn’t crutch on debauchery, crudeness, explosions, violence, or sex. The Karate Kid is pure story, characters, and heart – moviemaking at its finest.

I have concerns about the new one. For one, the kid is too young. I know Will Smith is pimping his son here, but really, why couldn’t they wait a couple years? He’s too small for the fighting scenes to have much impact, and he’s not old enough to have a love interest. What’s Daniel without Ali with an I? There is no way to emulate a unique character like Mr. Miyagi. It looks like a completely different movie, so I’m not sure why they had to steal the name. From the few things I’ve read so far (I’m trying to avoid reviews), the new one appears to be more a tribute than a remake, which is a good thing. It would be a huge mistake to try and live up to the best movie ever made.

EDIT: Indeed, the new one was more of a tribute than a remake. It wasn’t bad. Actually it stands on its own as another example of how many people were influenced by the original.