Karate Kid 40th Anniversary 4K Review

4 Min Read

Transported back to 1984 with The Karate Kid 4K. This classic still resonates. Rediscover its heart and soul in stunning 4K quality. A must-watch!

Karate Kid 40th Anniversary 4K Review
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It's been over 10 years since I've seen The Karate Kid but I, like everyone else I know, have been hooked on the Cobra Kai series thinking we remember the first movie well enough. At least that's what I thought when I put this 4K Blu-ray in and hit play. I was immediately transported to 1984 and was pulled right into the story, and I was wrong.

I'd forgotten how great this movie is. Dare I call it a classic or - as actor Martin Kove (Kreese) refers to it - it is as good as The Searchers or Casablanca. Well, that may be hyperbole but this movie not only holds up, it is a classic and one of the better films to come out of the 80s that still has an impact on the Zeitgeist. (watch all seasons of Cobra Kai, if you don't believe me)

In case you've been living under a green station wagon in Newark NJ for the past 40 years:

Ralph Macchio (My Cousin Vinny)  stars as Daniel, a teenager whose growing pains are made that much more difficult by his arrival in a new town where he must start from scratch and make new friends. He quickly becomes the target of the Cobras, a menacing gang of karate students, who are less than pleased when he strikes up a relationship with Ali (Elisabeth Shue, The Boys), the Cobra leader's ex-girlfriend. Eager to fight back and impress his new girlfriend, he begs his handyman, Miyagi (Pat Morita), a martial arts master, to teach him karate. Under Miyagi's wise tutelage, Daniel develops not only the physical skills but also the maturity, faith, and self-confidence to compete despite tremendous odds as he encounters the fight of his life in the exciting finale.

The Karate Kid is one of those rare films that takes big themes, like coming-of-age films which were huge at the time, and throws in a massive dose of heart and soul and spices it up with fun dialog and tons of quotable lines: "Sweep the leg, Wax On, Wax Off, or one of the funniest lines when Daniel asks Mr. Miyagi what belt he has and he responds, 'Canvas, from JC Penny, $3.98!'

Seeing it, as I'm sure most kids did at the time, you immediately connect with Daniel's character. He's likable and the underdog so you want him to get the girl and beat the bullies. But watching it as an adult, 40 years later, this movie still has you rooting for the underdog.  However, you also start to empathize with Johnny and the rest of those kids from Cobra Kai. Kreese is a bad guy and driven by his ruthless ego, he must win. Therefore he brainwashes those kids into believing that they must win at all costs: "STRIKE FIRST. STRIKE HARD. NO MERCY SIR."

And he had them believing it. Great job to the Cobra Kai team for recognizing that and running with it.

I think The Karate Kid took the villains to the next level.  You want to hate them, and you do, but in the end, you realize they are as much of a victim of Cobra Kai's ethos as Daniel.

Beyond the film, we have the 4K UHD release, and wow, this has to be the definitive version of this movie.  It looks and sounds excellent. The Karate Kid boasts HEVC / H.265Resolution: Native 4K (2160p) HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10 Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1, as well as, multiple audio options including Audio English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit) English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. So, take your pick. 

The transfer is well done, from the nighttime scenes - running from the costume party to the scenes at the beach, to nighttime at the "Arcade" to the training montage - the movie hasn't looked this good in 40 years. The graininess of previous versions seems all but gone, especially at night. The classic-looking VHS box cover is very well designed and brought me back to when I watched movies on VHS. One scene that really sticks out is the sunlight reflected on the water as Daniel trains himself and the iconic Crane-kick practice on the stump. The golden sunset reflected on the rippling waves in that moment is beautifully rendered.

The audio keeps every conversation up front and the fight scenes have the "punch" they need. Even the music sounds immersive - Bananarama's Cruel Summer or the ubiquitous "Best Around" - will have you crane-kicking and punching the air with excitement.

There are not a ton of features on this one, but over 30 minutes of deleted scenes/dailies, as well as the original trailer and a commentary by the creators of Cobra Kai, round this one out (pun intended).

While this film lends itself to more of a comedy/drama than a true action flick, you will not be bored during its 127-minute run time, and let's not forget Pat Morita's iconic performance as Daniel's own personal Yoda.  His performance will forever be immortalized and, regardless of how many remakes they throw at you, nothing will beat his Mr. Miyagi. From the beginning scene in Newark, NJ to when the credits roll over Daniel's triumph over the bad guys, you will remember why you loved this movie. You'll find yourself watching over and over, yelling "Sweep the Leg!!" or "BANZAI!!"

Rating: A-



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For more information about The Karate Kid visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Leonard Buccellato please click here.

The Karate Kid images are courtesy of Columbia Pictures. All Rights Reserved.


FlickDirect, Leonard   Buccellato

Leonard's lifelong passion for movies began at a young age with his fascination for the horror classic Blacula. This love of movies has inspired him to explore his creative interests, resulting in his writing of short stories and co-producing a web series. Currently, he is developing a horror novel, showcasing his love of storytelling. His diverse interests, including his enjoyment of Dungeons and Dragons, make him a multifaceted individual committed to exploring new ideas and experiences through movies and literature.


Read More The Karate Kid Reviews

The Karate Kid: 3-Movie Collection Physical Media: 4K UHD Review
The original movie has become a "new classic" amongst Generation X, and this box set gently reminds the viewer of how incredible it was.
Full Review | Grade: B


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