3. The Karate Kid (1984)
The Karate Kid has all the hallmarks of an ’80s movie: the new guy in town (cute but not unapproachable) falls for head cheerleader (Elisabeth Shue), a gang of high-school bullies with flipped-up collars torture aforementioned new kid, new kid develops feelings of low self-esteem and isolation, and a Japanese man (Pat Morita) full of sage wisdom who also happens to possess the ability to kick ass befriends new kid.
The Karate Kid stars Ralph Macchio (My Cousin Vinny) who plays Daniel LaRusso, whose mother drags him from New Jersey to California believing the sunshine can fix any problem. Daniel immediately falls for Ali (Shue) whose ex-boyfriend happens to be proficient in karate, meaning Daniel takes quite a few beatings.
Enter Mr. Miyagi, a man of few words, but he makes them count. He takes Daniel under his wing and becomes his sensei.
There are a handful of sports movies that make every grown man cry: Field of Dreams, Brian’s Song, Rudy and The Karate Kid. The film contains some noteworthy catchphrases like “Sweep the leg” and “Wax on, wax off.”
Daniel’s efforts to overthrow his oppressors draw Miyagi and Daniel together. Miyagi may be Danel’s mentor, but the two eventually become friends. While we want Daniel to prevail, it’s the journey and not just the destination that makes The Karate Kid so special.
Pat Morita was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Not bad for the guy who was best known as playing Arnold on Happy Days.
The Karate Kid franchise consists of the original film and three sequels. There’s also a remake (2010) of the same name starring Jackie Chan (Rush Hour) and Jaden Smith (The Get Down).