A sizable hit with both teen audiences and sports-themed movie enthusiasts, 1984's The Karate Kid
had the right combination of heart and action to spawn three sequels of varying quality between 1986 and 1994; all four features have been packaged together in this three-disc set. Though plot elements varied from film to film, the core story (and the series' greatest strength) remained the same--the relationship between a wise Japanese martial arts teacher (skillfully underplayed by comedian Pat Morita) and his young American student (Ralph Macchio in the first three films, and future Oscar winner Hilary Swank in the final entry, The Next Karate Kid
). The first of the Morita/Macchio matchups remains the best of the four features, with excellent performances from both leads and director John G. Avildsen (who also handled Rocky
and the first two Kid
sequels) expertly balancing the emotional moments with the pure excitement of the martial arts tournament that serves as its finale.
The subsequent sequels with Macchio seemed pulpier (especially The Karate Kid, Part II, with its rekindled wartime romance subplot), and the inevitable come-from-behind competitions lacking the impact of the original; 1994's The Next Karate Kid (directed by Christopher Cain) put a slight spin on the formula by replacing Macchio with belligerent teen Swank, but it too seems like a retread of the first film. Still, the messages inherent to each film--finding one's inner strength, trusting your heart--should ring true to new generations of younger viewers. Fans may find the Collection light on supplemental features--while all four films are presented in anamorphic widescreen format, only the original (which was previously released in pan-and-scan only) offers commentary by Avildsen, Macchio and Morita and several making-of featurettes; the three sequels, packed into two discs, offer no extras. --Paul Gaita
The Karate Kid
A fatherless teenager faces his moment of truth in The Karate Kid
. Daniel (Ralph Macchio) arrives in Los Angeles from the east coast and faces the difficult task of making new friends. However, he becomes the object of bullying by the Cobras, a menacing gang of karate students, when he strikes up a relationship with Ali (Elisabeth Shue), the Cobra leader's ex-girlfriend. Eager to fight back and impress his new girlfriend but afraid to confront the dangerous gang, Daniel asks his handyman Miyagi (Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita), whom he learns is a master of the martial arts, to teach him karate. Miyagi teaches Daniel that karate is a mastery over the self, mind, and body and that fighting is always the last answer to a problem. Under Miyagi's guidance, Daniel develops not only physical skills but also the faith and self-confidence to compete despite tremendous odds as he encounters the fight of his life in the exciting finale to this entertaining film. The Karate Kid: Part II
The price of honor. The power of friendship. The Karate Kid, Part II
. Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita re-create the roles that brought them international acclaim in The Karate Kid
. 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. The Karate Kid: Part III
Karate Kid, Daniel Larusso, risks losing it all when he places pride before principle in this dramatic film that reunites stars Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita. When Daniel (Macchio) decides not to compete in the upcoming karate championship, he becomes the target of vicious Cobra Kai student, Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), who's determined to win the title back. Standing firm, Daniel's mentor and trainer, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), instructs him to ignore Mike's threats - and stay away from the tournament. But when Mike's relentless abuse escalates into blackmail, Daniel finds himself forced into competition - and at serious odds with Miyagi, the one person he cherishes most. Desperate, Daniel turns to another karate instructor, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), whose violent combat techniques are directly opposed to Miyagi's wise instruction. But when Daniel realizes that Terry and Mike are allied with Mr Miyagi's old nemesis, Kreese (Martin Kove), in an elaborate set-up for revenge, he also knows he has alienated the only person who can help him. A riveting story of independence, inner strength and self-enlightenment, The Karate Kid, Part III
is a powerful new chapter in this popular series of films. The Next Karate Kid
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita and Acacemy Award winner Hilary Swank co-star in this story of a rebellious teen, Julie, who blossoms with a little help from her friends - in this case, the wise Mr. Miyagi and a trio of buddhist monks!