Almost 40 years later, The Karate Kid still packs a punch


The Karate Kid is a classic coming-of-age film that not only popularized karate and martial arts, but also created a franchise that has stood the test of time.

If you’re an actor, you know you’ve achieved cult status in your own right when strangers on the road shout lines at you from one of your movies. And on more than one occasion, Hollywood actor Ralph Macchio has had fans screaming “Why don’t you go back to Reseda?” and “Give him a body bag!” to him, no matter where he is in the world.

References are from the 1984 film, The Karate Kid, which catapulted Macchio into stardom. In the film, he plays a skinny teenager named Daniel LaRusso, who moves from New Jersey to California with his single mother after the latter loses her job. Not happy to leave his childhood friends behind and settle in a small apartment in the low-end neighborhood of Reseda, Daniel glimpses hope and happiness in the form of Ali Mills (played by a young Elisabeth Shue) who lives in the upscale part of town called Encino Hills and studies at her new high school. However, Ali’s wealthy ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence, who also attends the same school, along with his friends, begins to bully Daniel (which we can all relate to) – even beating him repeatedly by using karate taught to them by their sensei John Kreese at a local dojo called “Cobra Kai”.

Johnny, played by William Zabka, is arguably the baddest protagonist of the 1980s; sporting his red leather jacket and blowing dust circles on his dirt bike, followed everywhere by his trusty Cobra Kais, he is Kreese’s most accomplished student and a force to be reckoned with, both on and off the mat. Still clinging to Ali, he uses his karate skills to intimidate, torment, and scare Daniel away from her.

What sets The Karate Kid saga apart from other films like Three ninjas step back, Rockyand Drunken Masteris the bond that the characters of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso share throughout.

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