You know, I've finally arrived at many Earth-shaking revelations about The Karate Kid. When you first saw it as a tike, you felt empowered, inspired--ready to drop a crane kick into the chin of the world--fueled with a Rambo-sense of strength. That's how sports movies were to a kid. We came flying out the theater doing flying kicks and karate chops. I even tied my fathers bathrobe belt around my head and began terrorizing the neighborhood.
But today, I noticed some things about the movie that left me perplexed. Confused. Lost.
First off, let's face it once and for all. Ralph Macchio is a dweeb. He's a twerp. He's the kinda kid who was just screaming to get his ass kicked. How this guy got casted for this role is beyond me. He's like a walking turd. He's like a turd in tennis shoes. Ugly navy blue and yellow tennis shoes and always with that stupid ratty plaid shirt and red sports jacket. Gosh, this kid was just beggin' for a teachin'--dirty kid from New Jersey with a geekazoid accent like Boner from "Family Ties," getting rides to Putt Putt from his mommy in a stationwagon that wouldn't even start without a push down the hill. Not even his friends had his back in the movie. They even thought he was a nincompoop. Not only that, but I've seen tulips with more meat on 'em. Not only is it unlikely that this kid could raise a fist in battle, but even more unlikely that he could wrangle in Elizabeth Shue.
Alli with an "i." Yeah, good ol' Elizabeth Shue. You forget about her in Karate Kid largely because she was working next to the Bermuda Triangle of Hollywood in Ralphie. She's lucky she survived this role. Most people remember her rebound in Adventures in Babysitting--a favorite around our house. She was cute in Karate Kid, but you kinda thought if she was the kinda girl that would date Daniel Laruso, you probably wanted none of that in the first place. F'get about her.
If you ever have a chance to watch this incredible achievement in cinema again, look for the scene where the above still was taken from--in the arcade. When they come out, Danielson has just recently acquired a beautiful old convertible from Mr. Miyagi (yeah, right--dude ain't even driven his mother's garbage can stationwagon yet and he gets this beautiful car that Mr. Miyagi has been babying for decades). What's even more spectacularly amazing is Daniel, in his unfathomable wisdom, tells Alli she can drive the car which is so incredibly irresponsible. She, in shock, exclaims, "What?!" to which Daniel replies with possibly the greatest line in all of cinematic history: "Hey, it's the eighties!" Did I miss something about the eighties?
And Daniel's poor mother. This woman had some major dependency issues. I pick her as a quality candidate for alcoholism. The lady was completely unstable and had outbursts that could only be explained by a severe addiction to horse tranquilizers. Not only that, she was completely oblivious to Daniel getting his ass kicked by Cobra Kai. She couldn't even clue in on Daniel's distress from attending a new school until he's popping off in the alley. I feel bad for her, really. It's a sad family situation there.
My wife commented that Elizabeth Shue must have been at least 5 years older than Macchio--making her appear to be old enough to be his babysitter in some scenes.
Lastly, let's talk about the Cobra Kai. I gotta be honest real quick. They still scare the crap outta me. I want none of that Cobra action. These dudes had some serious nuts loose and it wasn't the nuts in their pants. These guys would kick even their grandmothers' asses. The scene at the Halloween dance still sends shivers down my spine. Some nights I have nightmares that the Cobra Kai is waiting for me around the corner in these frightening costumes. They were maniacs.
Look at Daniel in their clutches. Yeah, he went to the dance in a shower wearing a blue t-shirt and competitive athletics-grey sweatpants. Dude, how is he getting with Elizabeth Shue?! This is where Daniel shoulda died, but Miyagi hadn't come to his rescue, Daniel would've been leaving the set in a bodybag. I find myself rooting for the Cobra Kai in much of the movie like cheering for Leatherface in Chainsaw. You just wanna see Daniel get victimized, torn to pieces. It's fun to watch. Watching Daniel kick ass is as painful to watch as a dog with no back legs crawling to a full bowl of dogfood. It's just not entertaining. I would've preferred about thirty more minutes of Daniel beatings.
All that aside, the Cobra Kai were a force that you didn't wanna play with. Let's take Dutch, my personal favorite, who I later found out is the son of the great Steve McQueen! Yeah, that's Chad McQueen right there. And he looks like he's freaking 35 years old right here. Look at the terror in his eyes. He's ready to rip Daniel into pieces and feed him to his croonies. You don't want none of dis here. Dutch will kill you five times in one strike to the face. He's like a bull ready to go into action. I whimper just looking at him.
To Dutch, it's not about winning, it's about killing. You can have Chuck Norris. If I'm going to battle, I'm taking Dutch and Leatherface.
In the end, Cobra Kai captures the very reason I don't move to the big city. I have dreams where I'm being chased by the Cobra Kai on dirt bikes through a rugged urban landscape just trying to find a trash can to hide in. I wake up at night with Sensei John hovering over me quietly mumbling, "No mercy." Or another haunting I've been having lately involves Sensei John appearing out of the darkness into a very dimly lit center room with fist clutched repeatedly yelling at a deafening volume, "Finish him!" as Cobra Kai too appear out of the darkness. Cold sweat, folks. Cold sweat.
Look at Ralphie. He just crapped his pants because he looked into the eyes of Lucifer himself. Sure Miyagi stands in supposed defiance, but really Miyagi's just having a hard time reading the lips of Sensei John saying, "I will rip your heart out of your chest in less than three seconds using only my thumb, old man." If he knew what Sensei John was saying, he'd take a few steps back.
That ol' crane trick wouldn't had flown against the real Cobra Kai. I mean, really, the crane?! Daniel would've gotten smoked by Johnny had he not simply walked into that kick. I mean, when a dude sets up with his hands in the air and one foot raised in front of him, are you expecting anything other than a high kick?! They had to give it that Disney ending because anything less would've left the entire world at an imbalance, but really Johnny would've wrapped that Jersey punk up like a soggy pretzel, b'lee dat.