Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD debut of this coming-of-age classic — from Academy Award®-winning director John G. Avildsen — that is celebrating its 35th Anniversary.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1984
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 127 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC - HDR10
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Ralph Maccio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Elizabeth Shue, Martin Kove, William Zabka
Directed by: John G. Avildsen
Music by: Bill Conti
Written by: Robert Mark Kamen
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: April 16, 2019
"Karate Lies in the Heart and Mind. Not in the Hands"

“Celebrate the 35th anniversary of the coming-of-age classic — from Academy Award®-winning director (1976, Rocky) John G. Avildsen — that will leave you cheering! There is more to karate than fighting. This is the lesson that Daniel (Ralph Macchio), a San Fernando Valley teenager, is about to learn from a most unexpected teacher: Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat " Morita in his Academy Award®-nominated performance [Best Supporting Actor, 1984]), an elderly handyman who also happens to be a master of the martial arts. His training and these vital lessons will be called into play when an outmatched Daniel faces Johnny, the skilled leader of the Cobra Kai — a vicious gang of karate school bullies — in a no-holds-barred karate tournament for the championship of the Valley.” – Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

I reviewed The Karate Kid when it released on Blu-ray in 2010 and have included comments from that review here. The rating for the film is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video, Dolby Atmos mix and new bonus content are contained below.

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 that 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 that 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 the five bullies, led 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 Daniels 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 is popular among fans for its uplifting story, thematic strength, and memorable characters in Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi. It has a timeless appeal that I was glad to be able to share with my own children. Its release on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment allows fans the opportunity to enjoy it looking and sounding better than ever

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

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.**

UHD Presentation: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

The Karate Kid comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

The Karate Kid recently underwent a 4K re-mastering and its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from that process.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. The Karate Kid has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

Looking at the film's opening moments in New Jersey and upon their arrival in California, the improvement in depth and delineation is noticeable but, not staggering. Things do get better though. Grain is intact, occasionally rising to more obvious levels but, never to a distracting point. The Karate Kid isn’t an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements. The cinematography benefitted from the enhanced resolution and warmer chromatic accents. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition. While the increase in resolution isn't always on display, I believe that this is innate to the photography. The wide-angle shots that take place at the Mr. Miyagi’s compound, the beach and during the tournament looked great.

Color reproduction benefited from the wider color gamut, especially blues, and reds which pop nicely. High dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. Its application is appropriately applied here, keeping within the boundaries of the film’s cinematography and visual aesthetic. Hands down, this is the best The Karate Kid has looked on home video. Kudos to Sony for giving this the treatment it deserves. Hopefully we can expect continued support of the Ultra HD releases from their extensive catalog.

Dolby Atmos:

The new Dolby Atmos mix uses the entire platform so as to broaden the soundstage. This includes off camera sounds and low-level ambience. The music is mixed over the sound field, adding natural depth to its orchestrated elements while complimenting the film’s thematic details. This is done to very good effect, correlating with the onscreen events quite nicely as the most minute audio cues are fully realized. I appreciated the fact that the sound designers didn't go overboard with the freedom of object versus channel- based mixing. The soundtrack retains much of its original essence with the Atmos mix adding a noticeable increase in scope.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Karate Kid Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The Karate Kid Blu-ray
     ALL-NEW: “Remembering The Karate Kid” – featuring new interviews with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Martin Kove (on the 4K UHD disc)
     “Blu-Pop™” Pop-Up Track – Activate the Blu-Pop feature to reveal pop-up trivia, interviews and more secrets from the film!
     Commentary with Director John G. Avildsen, Writer Robert Mark Kamen and Actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita
     “The Way of the Karate Kid” Multi-Part Making-of Featurette
     “Beyond the Form” Featurette
     “East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook”
     “Life of Bonsai” Featurette
     Theatrical Trailer (on the 4K UHD disc)
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

The Karate Kid is popular among fans for its uplifting story, thematic strength, and memorable characters in Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi. It has a timeless appeal that transcends generational boundaries. It’s making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that features beautifully restored Ultra HD video, a complimentary Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and new and legacy bonus content. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the upgrades this release is highly recommended. If you aren’t, and already own the previous release, the decision to upgrade for the additional features/restored video will depend on how important that is to you.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems