Friday, May 8, 2009

A boy named Daniel-san

In 1984, my world changed forever, and I didn't even know it at the time. That was the year that the remarkable, energetic and comedic movie The Karate Kid was released. If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge fan of the Karate Kid franchise (excluding the travesty that is The Next Karate Kid), and of both Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.
I find The Karate Kid to be one of the greatest movies ever made. Let's examine the story of The Karate Kid and thereby examine my love for a boy named Daniel-san.
Daniel moves from New Jersey to California, and is bulled by *believable* kids in his new school. He meets a nice girl who is cool in her own right, and meets the eccentric Mr. Miyagi, who ends up teaching Daniel the karate skills he needs to hold his own against Johnny. This all culminates in an awesome karate tournament that just gets me every time.
Ralph Macchio, who was NOT a child but looked like one at the time of filming, is originally from Long Island, so his NJ accent was not only believable, but correct (fake Jersey accents, or - even worse - Brooklyn accents on characters who are supposed to be from NJ, are one of my stronger pet peeves).
The characters in this movie were not too caricature-ish, as they so often are in movies today (or ... the aforementioned The Next Karate Kid). And the people that played children actually LOOKED like children. Daniel's mom acted like a mom. Mr. Miyagi was also a very believable character and the way Daniel ended up in his tutelage did not seem contrived, but it flowed with the story.
Finally, this movie left us with a plethora of catchphrases. There's always the ubiquitous "Wax on, wax off" but there's also "Sweep the leg, Johnny" (which, I think replaces "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" as my favorite movie line).
One more thing, William Zabka who played Johnny Lawrence in The Karate Kid, and who I'm convinced is one of the coolest people ever, wrote, directed and starred in this video for the No More Kings song "Sweep the Leg, Johnny". You'll see cameos by almost all of The Karate Kid stars. Awesome.


  1. This is the movie that Chris and I saw on our first date. Sweet memories.

  2. I laughed all the way through that video. Sweep the leg is new to me, but now I'll never forget it!