The Karate Kid appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not a dazzler, the 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. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows looked clear and smooth. Again, the transfer didn’t look stunning in an objective sense, but it was more than satisfactory.
Similar comments greeted the peppy DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Kid. While not an action extravaganza, the soundfield delivered a good feeling for the various environments. 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.
Otherwise, the back speakers didn’t have a lot to do. They concentrated on environmental material and never came to life in a dynamic manner. However, they worked fine for the material; they did what they needed to do.
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 awful 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; this was a very nice soundtrack.
Karate Kid comes with a pretty good array of extras, most of which appeared on the 2005 DVD release. First up comes 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. He 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 set ends with some Previews. This area includes ads for Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, Extraordinary Measures, Facing the Giants, and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. No trailer for Kid appears here.
After 26 years, The Karate Kid remains an enjoyable underdog story. Sure, it shows its 80s roots pretty heavily and occasionally borders on the cheesy side of the street, but it has a nice mentor relationship at its center that carries it. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio along with a fairly positive set of supplements. This Blu-ray brings home the film in a satisfying manner.
Note that you can buy The Karate Kid individually or as part of a two-disc boxed set. That package combines Kid with the sequel Karate Kid Part II. If you want to own both, it’s a good deal. Individually, the Blu-rays list for $24.95, but the boxed set runs $39.95, so you benefit from a $10 savings.
To rate this film, visit the Karate Kid Collection review of THE KARATE KID