Late to…HEY, where is MY sensei? A review of Karate Kid

Late to…HEY, where is MY sensei? A review of Karate Kid

Prologue by Patrick Matthews, owner of Screenland Crossroads:

No mercy.

Karate Kid is the first film I saw as a kid to make me feel like I had a chance. If Daniel, this whiny little pissant momma’s boy, could beat some of the coolest guys in town… I guess I could too. Yeah I’ll say it, the Cobra Kai were awesome. If I were the Cobra Kai I would probably kick the shit out of Daniel too. Despite that, Daniel still won me over by the end of the movie and to this day I still can’t really explain why. Perhaps I could never be like a member of the Cobra Kai so I had to settle for being a “Daniel.” Maybe it was because he wore a shower curtain to a costume party or befriended an old Japanese man who cleaned the pools. Whatever the reason, it gave me hope that the little guy could beat the cool kids.

There is nothing groundbreaking about Karate Kid but simply put, it’s one of the best sports movies ever made. Throw in pre-Adventures In Babysitting Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove hamming it up as John Kreese, an 80’s soundtrack that can’t be beat, and MF’ing William Zabka and you’ve got a true classic.

Young hearts beat fast,
Driving down the road.
Rubber, plastic, metal, glass.
Why did you have to go?
Young hearts die young

On a “WHAT?! You haven’t seen ______???” scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest level of shock, disappointment and sad): I suppose I can give Laura a pass for missing this one growing up since admittedly it IS a “guy” movie at the core. However, since it was recently remade (to this day I still refuse to see it, just like the upcoming Footloose remake) I’m surprised she didn’t seek it out sooner. I hope that it can resonate with Laura like it did me, even if she is watching it at an older age.

Go, find balance.

LTTM review:

After Kevin read my review of Big, he told me that we were watching Karate Kid next and if I didn’t like Karate Kid… “well, I don’t know what I’ll do.” My friend Annie hadn’t seen Karate Kid before so she came over and we watched the movie together. Annie happened to take some incredible notes from statements the three of us made, and they are much more entertaining than any review I could write. So I’ll type those out instead:


  • Didn’t know “Wax On, Wax Off” was from Karate Kid until Ralph Macchio was on “Dancing with the Stars” and they referred to it constantly.
  • Super jealous of the mom’s poncho.
  • Are there people in movies named Johnny who aren’t assholes?
  • Note to self: call Kevin ‘Kevin-san.’ Not funny, but sounds cool.
  • During the date scene, Laura and Kevin start talking about the movie Fear and the song “Wild Horses” and the scene on the rollercoaster. That doesn’t sound fun.
  • Wondering about the “Hare Krishna” joke and how it played in the midwest in the 1980s.
(and then she drew this picture of a girl at the arcade wearing a vest that said ‘Flip Flirt’)


  • “…Is that a pig having sex with another pig on that guy’s shirt?” (Referencing the ‘Makin Bacon Shirt…and EW.)
  • “Oh…BABY Elizabeth Shue.” [Editor’s note: Now I understand why all the boys I know have a crush on Elizabeth Shue. She has, um, large boobs.]
  • Thinks Johnny looks like a bigger Draco Malfoy. (Annie: “I think you mean Draco looks like a smaller that guy.”)
  • Mr Miyagi: “To make honey, young bee need young flower, not old prune.” Laura: “Gross.”
  • Not a fan of sake.
  • I love that the end credits show that there was a guy in the role of “Chicken Boy” and a stuntman named Buck McDancer.


  • “It’s almost as if I’m 10 years old again, and watching this with Tommy and Mike and their sister Michelle, and we’re at a pool party.”
  • Sings along to every musical cue at the beach party.
  • Answers “NO SENSEI!” with the dudes at Karate.
  • Kevin lived in Okinawa for a year. He mentioned this thrice in the “bonsai tree” scene. I think it’s funny and Laura pretends to be annoyed.
  • Kevin yells, “CALM DOWN AND LISTEN TO THE LYRICS!!” Then he sings along (Young hearts beat fast).

Overall, I LOVED the movie (A+++++, would watch again). I’m a sucker for David versus Goliath stories, especially when they star Japanese men who remind me a lot of Yoda. That, and Ralph Macchio is very, very cute. Annie made me watch some DWTS clips after the movie and he looks about as old as he did during the original Karate Kid. Do I watch the second and third movies now? We’ll see!

Face palm moment: A personal face palm moment was when I realized that Martin Kove looks like John Travolta (mixed with Patrick Swayze, added Annie). If you don’t know by now, I am VERY anti-John Travolta. Seriously. I won’t watch Pulp Fiction ever. I know, I know, it’s a GREAT movie and I’m REALLY missing out and can’t I JUST THIS ONCE make an exception. No.

Favorite part: As Patrick mentioned, my favorite part HAS to be the shower curtain costume. I love costumes and that was just brilliant. Also, probably the Makin’ Bacon shirt. Okay, ALL of the fashion from this movie except for Daniel’s plaid shirt and camouflage pants. Tim Gunn would never let you out of his house dressed like that.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: Karate Kid is like the Goonies, where even if you haven’t seen the movie you know a quote is from the movie. That said, the following Chris Brown lyric jumped out in my head during the movie: “She wax it all off; Mr. Miyagi.”

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 9 out of 10, mostly because of the freeze frame on Mr. Miyagi’s face at the end of the movie. I still think that the crane kick by Daniel to win the match should have been in slo-mo and Kevin was greatly offended by that suggestion. Still, it would’ve been sweet. Otherwise, I really love this movie except for the fact that Kevin is going to walk around saying “Get him a body bag!” and “Troubles with Johnny?” for the next week or five.


  • Thank you for giving it a 9. A few things:
    -I still want to play soccer with Elisabeth Shue (spelled with an ‘s’, don’t disrespect the name).
    -Me and my friends always talked about going as a shower curtain and Cobra Kai in skeleton costumes for Halloween. We never did it. I regret that.
    -I had one more thing but I forgot what it was…

  • Ali with an “i” was one of my first movie girlfriends and, as you so astutely said, inaugurated my love of Elizabeth Shue that continues to this day. In case you were wondering, she attained her zenith of hotness and desirability in The Saint. It’s science.

    I think it kind of gets lost in the Zabka-induced shuffle, but Pat Morita is so good in this and well deserving of his Oscar nomination.

  • “You’re the Best” is the anchor song in my running/workout iPod mix. It’s clinically proven to increase the strength, endurance, and mental focus of anybody who listens to it.

  • So glad you liked the movie because it would have probably been bad if you didn’t. 🙂 Still can’t believe you won’t watch Pulp Fiction, no offense, but what is it with people that won’t give a movie a chance because they don’t like an actor in it, even when it is critically acclaimed and most everybody is telling you it’s a great movie? John Travolta is part of a huge ensemble of actors in this movie, it is NOT a John Travolta movie, it is a Quentin Tarantino movie that he happens to be in. You need to suck it up, swallow your pride, have a Royale with Cheese, and enjoy a great movie!

  • okay, so i could be called a bad friend for not checking out your blog earlier, my only excuse being that i rarely spend much time on the interwebs outside of ebay. i finally checked out your site though after seeing the facebook post and have to thank you for the hours of entertainment! i couldn’t stop reading, this blog cracked me up and brought back lots of memories of seeing some of these films for the first time, mainly at the theaters at their initial release, which is embarrassing for me to admit but if you are not afraid to admit that you hadn’t yet seen them then i shouldn’t mind ;). your post on the karate kid in particular flooded me with memories though i have not seen the film since it first came out. in 1984 i was eleven and i had not yet personally come out though i recall a prepubescent crush on mr. macchio. heck, even the bad guy with sprayed on perspiration was kinda hot to me at the time as i recall but as patrick mentioned i think the underdog kicking ass was what made the movie memorable for me and also gave me hope. in my case it was knowing already at age 11 that as a gay male and “the only gay in the village” that i would have many obstacles to face in which i needed to remain strong and i knew that if ralph could do it that i would also survive. this was a time when there were no “coming of age” gay youth related films which seemed to be a dime a dozen a decade later, for me this film filled that role, funny how this was referred to above as one of the best sports films yet it had such a different meaning and played such a different role for me. in addition this movie introduced me to bananarama…at the time i was the “techiest” kid on the block and recall recording off of the radio with a tape deck with microphone the song cruel summer and then with the assistance of a dual cassette-decked “ghetto blaster” i recorded the song back to back on a loop over and over and tortured everyone i knew with it, at least for that summer. i also believe that the film gave me a lifelong love for urban living, southern california and japanese gardens! with all that said, thanks for the memories and kudos on the highly entertaining blog project, i will be tuning in more often! – jack

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  • Pretty much my entire high school wrestling career was filled with us yelling, “Put him in a body bag, Johnny!” over and over again.

    You comparison of the great William Zabka to Draco is horribly offensive. Dude was the villain in Karate Kid, Just One of the Guys and Back to School…possibly the greatest three year stretch in movie villain history.


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