The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures: 1984 - 1986
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 127 minutes - 113 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Ralph Maccio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Elizabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka, Randee Heller, Tamlyn Tomita, Nobu McCarthy,
Directed by: John G. Avildsen
Music by: Bill Conti
Written by: Robert Mark Kamen
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 11, 2010
"Karate lies in the heart and mind. Not in the hands"
The Karate Kid: There is more to karate than fighting. This is the lesson that Daniel (Macchio), a San Fernando Valley teenager, is about to learn from a most unexpected teach: Mr. Miyagi (Morita) an elderly handyman who also happens to be a master of the martial arts. So when he rescues Daniel from the Cobra Kai, a vicious gang of karate school bullies, Miyagi instills in his young friend the importance of honor and confidence as well as skills in self-defense, vital lessons that will be called into play when a hopelessly outclassed Daniel faces Johnny, the sadistic leader of the Cobra Kai, in a no-holds barred karate tournament for the championship of the Valley.
The Karate Kid Part II: Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita re-create the roles that brought them international acclaim in The Karate Kid, when karate student Daniel Larusso (Macchio) accompanies his wise and whimsical teacher Mr. Miyagi (Morita), to his ancestral home in Okinawa. For the boy, it's a journey to an exotic new world, offering new clues to his mentor's secret past. For Miyagi, it's an opportunity to see his father one last time and to rekindle a romance with his childhood sweetheart (Nobu McCarthy). But Miyagi's return also re-ignites a bitter feud with long-time enemy Sato (Danny Kamekona) - a feud that involves young Daniel in a brilliant collision of cultures and combat. Now, far away from the tournaments, the cheering crowds and the safety of home, Daniel will face his greatest challenge ever when teacher becomes student, and the price of honor is life itself.
I saw The Karate Kid in the theater when it was originally released back in 1984. I remember thinking at the time that the name sounded juvenile and perhaps a little corny. That changed after I saw it. I was twenty years old and easily connected with the archetypes featured in the story. Being someone who likes to root for the underdog Daniel Larusso was both sympathetic and likeable. He had a tough row to hoe being raised by a single parent, moving away from his life/friends and ending up in a place with a new set of rules that required learning via trial by fire. Unfortunately for him this comes in the form or running afoul of a group of hard cases from the Valley who love to practice the teachings of their Cobra Kai Karate Dojo sensei John Kreese which is simple, “an enemy deserves no mercy”. The problem is that these impressionable nimrods have no inkling what the term enemy means and decide that currently Daniel fits the bill. Of course not all the blame rests with sensei Kreese as these five bullies lead by Johnny love to inflict pain on poor Daniel.
The turning point for Daniel not only in this situation but in his life is when he meets Mr. Miyagi the maintenance man at his apartment complex. Mr. Miyagi and Daniel become acquainted when he fixes Daniel's bike after it is damaged by a run in with the Cobra Kai. It isn’t until Mr. Miyagi steps in to save Daniel from a severe beating that he discovers that Mr. Miyagi knows Karate. Daniel convinces Mr. Miyagi to train him, which results in his entry in a local Karate tournament in which the members of the Cobra Kai are competing. Daniel will quickly need to absorb the teachings of Mr. Miyagi through rather unorthodox means if he is to qualify. He will ultimately come to understand that Karate is in the heart and the mind, not in the hands.
The Karate Kid II picks up at the end of the first film (right after the tournament) and finds Mr. Miyagi receiving word from his village in Okinawa that his father is dying. He feels compelled to return there but there are things in his past that make him hesitant. He left behind Yukie, the love of his life and a bitter rivalry with Sato once his best friend. He decides to make the journey and Daniel who currently has issues he would like to leave behind, opts to accompany him. Once they arrive Mr. Miyagi reconnects with Yukie, who never married.
Daniel learns about Mr. Miyagi’s past, sees the Miyagi family dojo, and gains more of an understanding of who his friend is and was. Unfortunately Sato carries a steadfast grudge against Miyagi and means to satisfy it by challenging him to a fight which he feels is long overdue. Daniel, being Daniel, comes into conflict with a rather nasty bully, who just happens to be Sato’s nephew. Amidst all of this he meets Kumiko, a girl from Mr. Miyagi’s village who teaches him not only about their native customs but that romance can blossom despite cultural differences. When the conflict between Sato and Miyagi comes to a head it is Daniel who shows them the meaning of compassion, honor, and sacrifice.
I am a fan of both films. The original Karate Kid is the better of two with a deeper story, memorable characters and the enriching establishment of the relationship between Mr. Miyagi and Daniel. It is an uplifting film with a coming of age story that touches on multiple subjects, including bullying, teen romance, and the importance of friendship and proper guidance. There are memorable moments, quotable lines (“Yeah Johnny! Get him a body bag!!”), and an exhilarating finale that caps things off. Watching it today it’s a little dated and some of the dialogue is corny but I find it a nostalgic and enjoyable movie with a timeless appeal.
The Karate Kid II is more of a guilty pleasure that lacks the originality and depth of The Karate Kid. I like the similar nature of the script in that it builds to a climax with the underdog versus villain theme. Yuji Okumoto is really very good in the role of Chozen, Sato’s nephew and Daniel’s nemesis. It’s a bit melodramatic but there is plenty of action and the romance between Daniel and Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) is charming and nicely integrated. The memorable “Glory of love” theme song by Peter Cetera was a number 1 hit and received an Oscar nomination for best song. The Karate Kid and the Karate Kid II are popular among fans for their uplifting stories, thematic strength, and memorable characters in Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi. They have a timeless appeal that I am glad to be able to share with my own children. Their release in high definition on Blu-ray from Sony allows fans the opportunity to enjoy them looking and sounding better than ever.
The rating is for thematic material, teen violence, brief language and bullying.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Karate Kid comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.3 Mbps. The Karate Kid part II comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.
In looking at each of these films on Blu-ray they share nearly identical properties therefore my comments will apply to both. The nature of the photography rarely affords three dimensional imagery and lucid textural detail. Regardless these are strong encodings that render these films quite well. Each boasts clean, well rendered primary colors and a pleasing mix of secondary hues that mate well with the source material. Fleshtones are on the warm side with a lifelike luster that capably describes the varying complexional types featured among the cast. Resolution is above average with appreciable delineation and varying degrees of refinement that can be scene/camera angle dependent. Black levels are slightly elevated which leaves dark sequences tend to exhibit very good balance between light and dark content while lacking punch. Contrast is stable which gives a fair degree of pop to colors and brighter sequences without white washing detail. Grain is present and moderately textured over the course of the presentation. There are instances where it becomes noticeably more prominent but I didn’t find it to be overtly distracting. Both prints appear to be in excellent shape with an end result that positively reflects on each in high definition.
The DTS-HD lossless soundtracks made the most of the source elements present in these 20 plus year old recordings. Dialogue is crisp, well intonated and mixed to a prominent position within the front soundstage. Sound effects and panning sequences emanating from the main channels are seamlessly integrated with discernible separation and fair sound field penetration. The 1980’s techno/pop music and Bill Conti’s score didn’t have the feeling of authority and quantifiable dynamics that you might find with today’s digital recordings but they exerted tangible influence with crystal clear instrumentation. There is no subterranean bass contained here however low frequency presence is detectable where appropriate. The surround channels are effectively used for ambient spatial cues that provide a good sense of envelopment.
In comparing each of these to their standard definition counterparts the differences in both audio and video quality are measurable. I am pleased with their overall quality and consider each a worthy successor to the DVD.
The Karate Kid:
This titles includes Sony’s exclusive Blu-Pop, a pop up picture-in- picture features with interviews, trivia, fun film facts, martial arts info and anecdotes from the actors.
- Director, writer, cast commentary
- The way of The Karate Kid Parts 1 and 2 – 45 minute featurette broken into two segments that include cast/crew interviews and behind the scenes/director home video footage
- Beyond the form – 13 minute featurette on martial arts and its use in the film
- East meets West: A composer’s notebook with Bill Conti – 8 minutes
- Life of Bonsai – 10 minute feature
- (HD) Previews: Hachi: A dog’s tale, Extraordinary measures, Facing the giants, The Water horse: legend of the deep
- BD-Live enabled
Karate Kid II:
Includes Sony’s exclusive Blu-Pop, which in this case features text based trivia, and fun film facts (no video/PiP)
- The “Sequel” – 6 minute featurette
The Karate Kid and the Karate Kid II are popular among fans for their uplifting stories, thematic strength, and memorable characters in Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi. They have a timeless appeal that I am glad to be able to share with my own children. I am happy to report that their debut on Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment finds them looking and sounding better than I have seen them on home video. The Karate Kid contains a great set of bonus supplements (the same as those found on the 2005 Special Edition DVD release) which gives fans a great look behind the scenes with plenty of vintage footage, recent cast/crew interviews and Sony’s new Blu-Pop interactive feature. The Karate Kid II contains a brief making of documentary and a scaled down version of Blu-Pop that offers only text based data which is disappointing but not a deal breaker. This two disc set is a worthy successor to any previously released standard definition version and is a must have for fans. Enjoy!
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