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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 65:39)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi, Bulgarian
  Extras
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • DVD-ROM features - Three games
  • Web access
  • Filmographies - Cast and crew

The Karate Kid

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 122 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Released in 1984, The Karate Kid was an instant hit with the movie-going public and everyone from kids to grannies loved it, and it is not hard to see why. It is a harmless, heartwarming film that is more about the relationship between the two main characters than a film about karate and learning how to beat the crap out of bad guys with style. Of course there is karate in it - and beating the crap out of bad guys - but this is merely the catalyst for the aforementioned relationship.

Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) lives with his single Mum in Los Angeles, having recently moved from Newark, New Jersey. Naturally, being the new kid on the block, the only kids that want to talk to him are the weedy geek types. The others kids pretty much ignore him, that is until he talks to the pretty blonde girl that just dumped the school jock, meaning he's about to get his head kicked in.

There are two courses of action when faced with such circumstances; flee, or stick around and do even more antagonistic things - and then get your head kicked in. Daniel predictably decides to do the latter, and sure enough receives several beatings from the local hoods, karate kids from his school who seem pretty sure of themselves so long as they hang around in a pack. It is during one such beating that Daniel's saviour appears, and it turns out to be none other than the kindly old Japanese-American handyman that lives in his apartment block, Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita).

So begins the relationship between the young Daniel and the wise old Mr. Miyagi. In an attempt to get the local thugs to leave Daniel alone, Mr. Miyagi confronts the thugs' karate teacher who promises the thugs will lay off, so long as there is a final showdown between Daniel and chief thug, Johnny. It is agreed that this will occur at the All Valley Karate Championships in just two months’ time.

The next two months are spent in training, learning new skills such as waxing cars, painting fences, and sanding wooden decking. Along the way, the two learn a great deal about each other, and develop a very close friendship. As the tournament nears, Daniel realises that he has learnt a lot more than just how to avoid getting beaten up. Will it be enough to put an end to the beatings; will he have learnt enough to do well at the tournament; and is it two parts sand to one part cement mix or vice versa?

The Karate Kid was an enjoyable film in 1984 and even though much about it now looks and feels dated, it is still a good film that should find you cheering for the good guys as intended. The cast gives a good performance, and Macchio, at 23, easily passes for the teenager, Danny. Pat Morita delivers some very funny one-liners and anecdotes, and almost steals every scene he appears in.

The storyline is strong enough to keep you watching, although there are some very cringeworthy moments and some very corny lines. The costumes are pretty dated, and the songs are quite dreadful, but it will prove an enjoyable experience all the same.

  Video
Contract

This transfer is a pleasant surprise, and the rather shabby, dark, and soft image that I was expecting thankfully never materialised. The Karate Kid is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is anamorphically enhanced. This is one up for Region 4 as the Region 1 version is a pan and scan job.

As mentioned, the image is good, though it occasionally softens. There are some fairly grainy scenes, especially outdoors, but overall this looks much better than it ever did on video. The colours are generally good, and the ’80s fascination with pastel coloured fashion is on full display. There are times when the colouring does appear a little on the pale side, but overall it is good.

Shadow detail is good in most scenes, but deteriorates noticeably in the darker night time scenes. Black levels in general are a little on the grey side, and there is some slight evidence of chroma noise and low-level noise. There were a very few instances of aliasing, but you would have to go looking for them to notice. Do this, and you might also notice the film artefacts such as dirt, though it really is quite minimal.

In general, this is the best the movie has ever looked, and even though the cover says this is a single layer disc, there is a layer change at 65:39 that is well placed.

  Audio
Contract

The audio transfer is good without being brilliant. There is only one English option, and that is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround. Vocals are placed at the front, with the surround speakers carrying the same signal as each other, and used exclusively for ambient sounds and the dreadfully bland rock songs that seemed to dominate such films in the ’80s. The subwoofer, however, barely gives a rumble. Dialogue is clear, though Morita's accent at times requires close attention.

Low level sounds are well presented, and the sound of all those karate thumps come through loud and clear. There are no problems with audio synchronisation.

  Extras
Contract

There are very limited extras and they are not very interesting I am afraid. There are Filmographies for the lead actors and director, and they’re silent text-only screens.

There are three trailers for The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part II and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers - The Pluto Chronicles. All are full frame presentations and of poor quality, like watching an old video copy.

There are, according to the case at least, Weblinks and DVD-ROM Games called Catch The Fly, Find The Village, and Capture The Bonsai. I could not find these extras on the menu so perhaps they fire up upon insertion of the disc into a DVD-ROM.

  Overall  
Contract

The Karate Kid is a great nostalgia trip. It is not a challenging movie, and is quite inspirational once you look past the corn and predictability. It gives the heart a good warming, and certainly took me back to a time of greater innocence. It is a wonderful snapshot of the ’80s, from the hairstyles, to the fashion, to the music. Looking better than it ever has, The Karate Kid is a great movie that the whole family will enjoy.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1737
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      And I quote...
    "A feel-good movie about a young man's unlikely friendship with a wise old karate expert, though at times it looks more like a home-style makeover program - 'Wax on, wax off'... "
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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