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John G. Avildsen
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue
Writing Credits:
Robert Mark Kamen

A martial arts master agrees to teach karate to a bullied teenager.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend:
$5,031,753 on 931 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
German DTS-HD MA 5.1
Czech Dolby 5.1
Hindi Dolby 1.0
Hungarian Dolby 5.1
Italian DTS-HD MA 5.1
Korean Dolby 2.0
Polish Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Castillian DTS-HD MA 5.1
Thai Monaural
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $75.99
Release Date: 12/7/2021
Available Only As Part of “Karate Kid 4K UHD Collection”

• Audio Commentary with Director John Avildsen, Writer Mark Kamen, and Actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita
• “Blu-Pop” Interactive Feature
• “Remembering The Karate Kid Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Way of The Karate Kid” Featurettes
• “Beyond the Form” Featurette
• “East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook” Featurette
• “Life of Bonsai” Featurette
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Karate Kid [4K UHD] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson/Brian Ludovico (December 21, 2021)

Another iteration on the underdog story, 1984’s The Karate Kid didn’t become an enormous smash. However, it did nicely and spawned a franchise with a handful of sequels as well as a 2010 remake.

High schooler Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) moves from Newark to sunny southern California, as his mother Lucille (Randee Heller) takes a good job in computers. When he arrives just before the first day of his senior year, Daniel’s outgoing nature helps him get invited to an end-of-summer beach party where he first encounters comely schoolmate Ali (Elisabeth Shue).

Daniel doesn’t know he’s flirting with the wrong girl until her bully ex-boyfriend Johnny (William Zabka) shows up with his gang of thugs.

When Johnny becomes confrontational with Ali, Daniel steps in to defend her. A fight ensues, and when the dust settles, Daniel finds himself in a heap on the beach.

As Daniel suffers more confrontations with Johnny and company, he turns toward an unlikely support system: Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the maintenance man at Daniel’s apartment complex. Miyagi teaches Daniel karate so he can face down his enemies in a local tournament.

I wish there were more to say about The Karate Kid from a narrative standpoint, but the fact is that while this movie has become many things to many people, it certainly isn’t complicated or original. The Karate Kid is another iteration of the most recognizable themes in all of storytelling: the David and Goliath story.

A smaller, weaker person stands up to incredible odds that he overcomes because of heart and mind. Be it On the Waterfront or Rocky, everyone can recognize the skeleton of these stories, but what differentiates the good from the bad is the meat of the films and the characters.

Starting with Daniel, we don’t find overly detailed roles. However, we connect with the lead immediately because we’ve all been that fish out of water.

Daniel doesn’t let his circumstances get him down, even after getting beaten like a drum for the first few weeks of school. He is defiant to a fault while still chivalrous, respectful and funny. He’s a kid with a lot of qualities we all had, plus a few of the qualities we may wish we’d had.

Morita earned the film’s lone Oscar nomination. Morita’s Miyagi is basically a real-life Yoda, playing the dignified master with wisdom, grace and - perhaps most importantly - humor. Toshiro Mifune was originally supposed to play the role with a more militaristic and austere style, but Morita’s funny and human performance works far better.

The villains are almost hilariously broad-stroked. Johnny is the bully we all hated and feared in high school, the boy who was more physically developed than the rest, stronger, athletic, good looking and arrogant.

Johnny seems driven by pure rage around Daniel and complete haughtiness around Ali. At every chance, if he isn’t beating Daniel up, he’s embarrassing and insulting him.

His Cobra Kai cronies are caricatures of the high school pack mentality, so much so that they’re almost laughable. There’s only one instance in the film where a Cobra Kai says “that’s enough” to Johnny.

At some point, I think at least one of these kids would just say “Why do we care about this punk kid?” They become poster boys for ‘roid rage when we get to the finale.

Their master, though, is perhaps even shallower. Shallow though he may be, the inimitable Martin Kove plays Kreese just a hair shy of having him twist the end of his moustache and laugh in a foreboding crescendo as he ties Ali up on a railroad track. He represents the Dark Side of karate, the aggressive and seething anger of martial arts.

Kove also makes some of the most hilariously evil faces in movie history throughout the film. I often wondered why Kreese was so concerned over Daniel and Miyagi.

The guy has a successful business and a lot of students who pay a pretty good penny to learn his style of karate - what does he care if Miyagi or Daniel want to live their lives? And isn’t he worried at least a little about the legal ramifications of teaching this way?

If five of these kids put someone in a coma, how long until Cobra Kai Inc. is held liable? Kove’s Kreese doesn’t care one whit. Good for you, Marty!

The “Eighties Movie” has become a genre unto itself, boasting such classics as The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Weird Science. Indisputably, The Karate Kid belongs in that same pantheon of film. Even though it’s not an original or unpredictable story, it’s a fantastic underdog movie that continues to draw audiences in and gets them to respond emotionally. <

With its core of good morals, some entertaining characters, a classic “final showdown” scene and some fine direction, The Karate Kid is true family entertainment. It’s fun enough to allow you to ignore its various flaws and enjoy the ride.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

The Karate Kid appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While not a dazzler, the Dolby Vision presentation satisfied.

Due to the nature of the source photography, sharpness occasionally was a bit iffy. This was an issue mostly in wider shots, as those could be somewhat soft.

However, this wasn’t a real concern, as the majority of the movie boasted nice clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to become an issue, and edge enhancement remained absent.

Source flaws also failed to appear. To the joy of the anti-DNR (digital noise reduction) brigade, the movie came with plenty of grain. That wasn’t especially attractive, but it represented the original photography, so I didn’t mind it. Otherwise, the film lacked any signs of defects.

Colors looked surprisingly good. A lot of mid-80s flicks haven’t held up well in this regard, but Kid boasted a broad, lively palette that provided solid reproduction of the hues. The disc’s HDR added impact and heft to the colors.

Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows looked clear and smooth. HDR brought depth and range to whites and contrast. Again, the transfer didn’t look stunning in an objective sense, but it was more than satisfactory.

Similar comments greeted the peppy Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Kid. While not an action extravaganza, the soundfield delivered a good feeling for the various environments.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, much of this stayed with general ambience, and various vehicles moved around the spectrum in a pleasing way. Music boasted strong stereo delineation and moved to the rears in a decent manner as well.

The back speakers didn’t demonstrate a ton of information. However, they added a good sense of environment, and a few more vivid elements – like vehicles – popped up in the surrounds.

The quality of the audio became the most impressive aspect of the track. In particular, music sounded great, as both the score and the many 80s pop songs appeared lively and full.

Effects didn’t have much to do, but they were clear and concise, and speech seemed satisfying. The lines were consistently natural and accurate, without edginess or other problems. Given the movie’s age, I thought a “B+” was in order, as this was a very nice soundtrack.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The Atmos audio offered similar quality compared to the BD’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, but it brought out a somewhat more active soundfield.

As for the Dolby Vision picture, it showed superior definition, colors and blacks. Like I implied in the body of the text, this never became an impressive image, but it replicated the source well and acted as an upgrade over the Blu-ray.

On the included Blu-ray copy, we open with an audio commentary with director John Avildsen, writer Mark Kamen, and actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. All four sit together for their running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, sets and locations, stunts and karate, and general film notes.

While a peppy commentary, this one rarely becomes especially informative. Oh, we get decent bits and pieces along the way, but I can’t think of many genuinely interesting nuggets. Though it’s an enjoyable listen, it doesn’t tell us much.

For something new, we find an interactive feature called Blu-Pop. That’s a goofy name for the standard picture-in-picture program.

“Blu-Pop” mixes text factoids with pop-up interview remarks from Macchio and actor William Zabka. The text components discuss basic facts about cast/crew and karate, while Macchio and Zabka go over characters and performances, cast and crew, and various aspects of the shoot.

This turns into a mini-commentary, and it’s a pretty good one. Both guys have some good stories to tell, and they flesh out their sides of the production well. We don’t find a ton of redundant info from the commentary, so “Blu-Pop” provides a satisfying overview.

A mix of featurettes follow. The two-part The Way of The Karate Kid runs 45 minutes, 25 seconds and provides comments from Avildsen, Kamen, Macchio, Morita, Zabka, and actor Martin Kove. The program looks at story and development, cast, characters and performances, Avildsen’s work as director, shooting the karate, and a mix of movie specifics.

With 45 minutes at its disposal, I hoped for a deep look at the production from “Way”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell us a ton that we don’t already know from elsewhere, and it tends to seem a little soft in terms of content. It’s pleasant and reasonably informative, but it just doesn’t become memorable or especially rich.

Next comes the 13-minute, three-second Beyond the Form. It includes notes from martial arts master/choreographer Pat E. Johnson.

He tells us about his work on the film as choreographer and trainer of the actors. Johnson contributes some decent notes about the production, but he tends to wax philosophical about martial arts more than I’d like; really, in a show like this, we just want to know about the movie.

East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook lasts eight minutes, 17 seconds and offers info from Avildsen composer Bill Conti. They discuss the score for Kid and make this a pretty tight and informative glimpse into the craft of film composing.

Finally, Life of Bonsai goes for 10 minutes and gives us material from bonsai master Ben Oki.

He chats about the art of trimming those little trees. His comments offer some minor insights into his work, but it’s more interesting to see the trees themselves.

The 4K UHD comes with some new materials, and these begin with Remembering The Karate Kid. In this 10-minute, 22-second reel, we hear from Macchio, Zabka and Kove.

The actors reflect on story/characters, how they got their roles, performances, and various memories/thoughts about the film. Nothing revelatory occurs, but the show offers a pleasant overview.

Four Deleted Scenes span a total of three minutes, 14 seconds. We find “Accidents Happen” (1:07), “Watch Where You Sit” (0:50), “Disqualified” (1:00) and “Fight” (0:27).

“Happen” makes Johnny look even more psychotic than usual, and “Sit” displays a juvenile prank Johnny plays on Daniel that leads to another brawl. “Disqualified” shows more of the aftermath of Daniel’s severe leg injury, and “Fight” gives us a little more of Daniel at the tournament.

None of these seem like the movie needs them. However, they offer some interesting unused tidbits.

The disc concludes with the movie’s trailer.

After 37 years, The Karate Kid remains an enjoyable underdog story. Sure, it shows its 80s roots pretty heavily and occasionally wanders the cheesy side of the street, but it has a nice mentor relationship at its center that carries it. The 4K UHD offers very good picture and audio along with a pretty useful set of supplements. This becomes a quality release.

Note that this version of Karate Kid appears only as part of a three-film 4K “Karate Kid Collection”. In addition to Karate Kid, it includes Karate Kid Part II and Karate Kid Part III.

Although Sony release Karate Kid as a 4K disc in 2019, this 2021 release provides a different edition. It adds Dolby Vision as well as the new bonus materials.

To rate this film, visit the prior review of KARATE KID

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main