Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You're The Best . . . Arooound!!!

Nothing's gonna ever keep you down!

That's right, I just picked up the double-pack of Karate Kid parts I and II out on Blu-ray today! I can't wait to rush home and check this out. I still have the old p.o.s. original snapcase DVDs with the terrible video quality, diminished soundstage, and non-existent extras. So, for me, this was a double dip made simple. What surprises me is that there are actually people out there who have never seen these movies. Say WHAA? Well, I shouldn't talk. My wife is one of them. I guess this will just have to be my excuse to get her to watch them now -- and for me to relive my precious 80s childhood memories all over again. What's not to like about these films? It's a feel good story about an underdog kid rising to become a champion in the eyes of the public. In addition, it has a truly rocking 80s soundtrack, memorable action sequences, and decent emotional depth between the main characters. You can't go wrong! The Blu-rays of both films are in full 1080p resolution on two separate AVC MPEG-4 encoded, BD-50 dual-layer discs. I love that the aspect ratio is at 1:85:1 to fit the entirety of my widescreen television, and that the audio was remastered in DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound. From what I've read online at various sources, the quality is surprisingly good on both the video and audio fronts.

The first Karate Kid was a milestone, released back in June, 1984. I was only 7 at the time, and my family didn't go to the movies. So it wasn't until the film came out on VHS a year later that I was finally able to watch this, and in school of all places. Of course, all the older girls at my elementary school were going ga-ga over Ralph Macchio, but for me the fist movie held a special place in my heart because my family was in the middle of moving to an entirely different district in the south Bronx. Which meant that, like Daniel Larusso in the film, I would have to enroll in a different school and make new friends all over again. When I arrived at this new school in the 4th grade, most of the kids there had already established their cliques and relationships. Needless to say I was the odd boy out, much like Daniel. But, unlike Daniel-san, I didn't have a kindly old janitor/Karate master take me under his wing and teach me self-defense. Eventually we owned a copy of the VHS at home, and the Karate Kid would get constant rotation at least twice a week by my brother and I. I don't know that it had the same impact on him as it did me, but I was hooked! I'm sure the story probably seems cheesy by today's standards, but back then I thought it was a masterpiece. Like with Rocky (directed by the same guy who directed this, John Avildsen), I've always been a sucker for the comeback kid-type tales. Honestly, it never gets old. It's just something I can't get enough of.

Released exactly two years after the first movie hit theaters, Karate Kid II is the much maligned "sequel" movie of the series. And, yet, for the life of me I don't know WHY! Maybe it's because I was only 9 at the time, but if anything I ended up liking this movie even MORE than the first. I know, sacrilege, eh? But it's true. I was always a very introverted and sensitive child. And, finding very few friends or joy in my new life, I began to gravitate toward other cultures and extreme parts of the world that were as far away from the South Bronx as one could get. Yes folks, this is where my love for foreign languages, the far East, and "alien" cultures all began -- with this movie! I'm not ashamed to admit it. Even though the sequel was filmed on Oahu, Hawaii--I actually visited the site on our honeymoon there in 2005!--the setting was supposed to be Okinawa, Japan. And I was completely hooked! I loved the set pieces SO MUCH, and the musical score was simply breathtaking. But, as with the first movie, what really took center stage here for me was the story. It's weird how much these movies were paralleling my real life at the time. The first movie was about a displaced kid finding his way in the world, just like me. The second movie, among other themes, was about a son dealing with the death of his father and learning to forgive his "enemy." In many ways (which I won't go into here) -- this was me, too! The scene that always tears me up to this day is when Mr. Miyagi is sitting on a rock and staring out into the ocean, mourning his father's passing. And Daniel comes up to him and tells him about how he felt when his own father died. Nothing else is spoken after this, but Daniel puts his arm around his mentor and they both stare into the sunset together. Yeah, gets me EVERY damn time!

As you can see, the Karate Kid movies hold a special place in my heart. Not everyone gets that, and maybe you might think I'm being silly. But I don't care. This is an indelible slice of my 80s childhood, right up there with the Transformers and Ninja Turtles!

Yes, I just went there. Deal with it! :)

Anyway, I'll leave you the original trailers for both movies in case you need them. Warning, the first trailer is major CHEESE! My only excuse is: hey, it's the 80s. What do you expect?

Where were you when you first saw these movies?


Ashe Hunt said...

I'll be getting these on my way to school tomorrow! Didn't even know these were coming out. This is massive cool! Yeah, I think part 2 is disliked for the same reason as Temple of Doom. They take place in places and cultures that have nothing to do with white people or their culture. Oh well. WE know better. ;-)

David Batista said...

Yes, I think you might be on to something. Even though the movie is a bit condescending toward Japanese people--having the actors speak in that same exact and ridiculous broken English--at its heart it was pretty respectful of the traditional culture, e.g. family bonds, honor, funeral rites, etc. For the 80s, to have a big-budgeted summer blockbuster actually take place almost entirely on foreign soil -- that was a big achievement!

Rodney said...

Okay, first off, DAMN YOU for getting that song "you're the best... around" stuck in my head for the whole day!

Personally I liked all 3 Karate Kid movies. I've always counted part 2 as a great sequel, because there was more to tell in the story of both Mr. Miyagi and Daniel Larusso.

On a side note, I didn't like Temple of Doom because they took too much time away from Indy & archeology. Just removing Kate Capshaw from the movie would have made it TEN times better. :-)

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