Film: The Karate Kid

aka: The Next Karate Kid
This makes so much more sense compared to waxing cars.

"Wax on, wax off!"
Mr. Miyagi

A series of five films beginning in 1984. Following a similar pattern to the first Rocky movie (and featuring the same director) it focused on a student-master relationship between Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi, whose name came to be slang for a type of Retired Badass. The first three films starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel and Pat Morita as Miyagi. Hilary Swank played a new "Karate Kid" in the fourth movie.

The Karate Kid: (1984) The first film introduced Daniel Larusso, a teenager whose father had passed away (although the viewers wouldn't learn this until the second movie) and he just moved with his Mom from New Jersey to Reseda, California. Daniel has a little bit of a temper, but is overall a good kid. He doesn't fare well making new friends, upon trying to get close to a girl he likes, Ali, he gets into a fight with her ex-boyfriend Johnny. Johnny happens to be the prize student of the Cobra-Kai Karate Dojo, whose sensei John Kreese encourages such behavior. After they fight, which ends with Daniel losing badly, Johnny leads his gang into tormenting Daniel whenever possible.

It finally leads into a serious fight with the gang chasing Daniel down and beating him up just outside his apartment complex. Coming to his rescue is the elderly Japanese handyman, Mr. Miyagi. Despite his age, Miyagi protects Daniel and defeats the Cobra-Kai gang with ease. Upon seeing Miyagi's skill, Daniel requests to be trained. After seeing that appealing to Kreese won't work, Miyagi agrees to train him but arranges a deal that the Cobra-Kai will stop bothering Daniel if he enters an upcoming tournament.

Daniel is hesitant about the tournament, but willing to learn karate at the least to defend himself. The first few days Miyagi had Daniel do several chores: paint the fence, sand the decks and wax the car. Daniel endures it patiently, but eventually blows up at Miyagi for using him as a slave instead as a student. Miyagi then demonstrates what Wax On, Wax Off really means. Daniel is stunned, then begins to understand that Miyagi wasn't trying to teach him how to fight, but how to apply martial arts to his life.note 

The first movie is the most loved of the film series, and Pat Morita earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi. The Nostalgia Filter helps a lot, as the film is not ashamed to be set in the 80's. Though given that it was also filmed in the 80s, this probably explains why. The main theme of this film is balance and self-respect, that martial arts should be used in discipline and not for aggression. Mr. Miyagi doesn't teach Daniel to be a vicious badass, but how to calm himself and deal with his problems as they come.

The Karate Kid, Part Two: (1986) Six months after the first film, Daniel has broken up with Ali and is being set up to move in with Mr. Miyagi as his mom moves up north. Miyagi receives a notice that his father is gravely ill and he decides to return to his home village in Okinawa. Daniel wants to support his friend and father-figure and goes with him, also hoping to learn more about Miyagi's history.

At the village many things have changed, and Daniel learns of an old feud between Miyagi and his old friend Sato that has not passed with time. (Miyagi left Okinawa so he would not have to fight to the death) Daniel also begins a troublesome relationship with Sato's nephew Chozen, who is even more aggressive. Miyagi's father dies but that did not subside Sato's anger. Along the way, Daniel also begins a new romance with a local girl, Kumiko.

The second movie was a well respected sequel, much of it having to do with the change of scenery and culture. A major theme of this film is about mercy and pacifism. Daniel learns about what 'life or death' combat is about and also trades blows with Chozen progressively throughout the film.

The Karate Kid, Part Three: (1989) One year since the first film, John Kreese is running into financial trouble after his humiliation in the first film and the beginning of the second. He orchestrates a plan with an old war buddy of his to bring the Cobra-Kai Dojo back by targeting both Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. They blackmail Daniel into returning to the same tournament so he could be humiliated by a new unstoppable student.

The third film was felt by many to be a severe case of sequelitis, as the themes of fighting for self-respect and for your life in the previous films were dropped for a more standard underdog story and villain's plot. Also, Daniel doesn't seem to get any better, even after his "fight to the death" from the previous movie; he is just as inexperienced as in the first film.

The Next Karate Kid: (1994) Five years after the last movie, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel have parted ways and the venerable old man found a new student to help, Julie Pierce. She is struggling with a para-military group that almost runs her high school, with the leader Dugan (played by Michael Ironside) just as ruthless as Kreese from the earlier films. This time he takes her to a local monastery to learn about peace of mind.

This film was poorly received and made even less then the last film, which essentially killed the franchise.note 

The Karate Kid: A Continuity Reboot of the series that premiered in June 2010, borrowing elements of the first one but set in Beijing, China. Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) plays the lead role of Andre "Dre" Parker and Jackie Chan is the old mentor, Mr. Han. There is almost no karate in this film; the lead character trains in kung fu instead.

Many people have noticed that DC Comics is credited in the films, but contrary to popular belief, the films are not directly based on a comic book. Columbia Pictures obtained permission from DC (as a professional courtesy) to use the title "the Karate Kid" because the name was already in use for a character in DC's Legion of Super-Heroes comic, but the films draw no inspiration from the character.

The movies also inspired a somewhat forgettable Animated Series involving Daniel and Mr. Miyagi traveling the world in pursuit of a magical healing shrine.

Now has a character sheet.

The original film series has examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: Daniel's mom drives one.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Ali.
  • Alpha Strike: In the second movie Chozen demonstrates that the crane kick leaves Daniel overstretched and off-balance.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Bobby begs Daniel's forgiveness after kicking his knee.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Kreese in the first; Chozen in the second; Silver in the third. Gets more literal in the fifth film where he uses kung fu.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts:
    • The actual crane kick is an almost physically impossible move that few people alive can successfully perform. (It's a twirling kick in which you jump, kick, and land all on the same leg.) As no one working on the film could do it—even the martial arts expert who helped choreograph the fight scenes—they just had Ralph Macchio do a weird, inexplicable flamingo pose into a more standard sort of front kick. (Why couldn't they have used a special effect? Cost, probably) No bother, because in Real Life there is no move in any martial art for which there is no defense when it is performed well. The move might also be illegal. While controlled hits to the head are permitted in some tournaments (including the one in the movie), the crane kick was clearly uncontrolled. And for good reason: a full-on kick to the face like that risks death or serious injury. (This after Johnny scores a punch to the face that is perfectly legal and would have won him the trophy... but was ignored. )
    • In a real martial arts tournament, someone with a fractured leg would not be allowed to continue even if they insisted — the risk of becoming permanently disabled (not to mention a lawsuit) is too high. Also, Johnny's behavior (and his fellow students' taunts) in the final fight makes it blatantly obvious that his teacher is instructing them to deliberately injure other participants. In Real Life the referee would stop the fight and not only disqualify Johnny, but probably have the entire dojo permanently barred from future competitions. Although some martial arts schools are so incredibly popular that banning them from future competitions would hurt the associations sponsoring the competition - especially if the association receives upwards of fifty or so new members every year from said schools. And many times, referees can be paid to look the other way...
      • Its never made clear if Cobra Kai was banned but after that evening they were disgraced and by the time of the third movie, Kreese is facing bankruptcy and even homelessness.
  • Artistic License Sports: Snake's fouls on Danny in the final showdown were so blatant and close together, even the most lenient ref would've disqualified him halfway through the match.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: The Crane Technique.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • The crane stance, which in Real Life could be defeated with a good shove to the chest. Heck, if you pause the movie right before the Crane Kick, you can see that Johnny has a clear shot to the chin lined up...
    • In the sequel, Chozen allows him to follow through, but simply catches his foot and gives him an elbow to the back (a move reminiscent of Johnny's elbow to Daniel's knee in the first movie).
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: After time, Daniel was able to point out the flaws in others techniques and able to improve upon them.
  • Barbaric Bully: The first movie is a rather iconic example. It gives us High School bullies which Daniel eventually sees off by besting his tormenters in a karate tournament.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mr. Miyagi is calm and peaceful, but that doesn't mean he's lacking in fighting skill.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Miyagi gets to do this at least Once per Movie. Daniel gets his own moment in Karate Kid 2, when he rescues the stranded village bellringer during the height of a typhoon.
  • Book Ends: See Cherry Tapping
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Ali, Kumiko, and Jessica, respectively. Daniel obviously isn't picky when it comes to hair color.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Lampshaded in the director's commentary:
    "How come they're all blond?"note 
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Chozen in Part II has nothing going well for him once Daniel arrives in Okinawa.
    • Kreese is going through hard financial times at the beginning of Part III.
  • Breakout Villain: John Kreese appeared in only three scenes in the original film but was so memorably over-the-top that he was present in the next two sequels. Granted, his scene in Part II was initially filmed for the first movie.
  • Brick Break: The second film takes most advantage of this trope with Mr. Miyagi coaching Daniel how to break through six sheets of ice, while Miyagi tops everyone by chopping a thick ceiling beam in two with one chop to rescue Sato pinned under it in a storm. At that point, it is likely that Sato realize that if they had their duel, Miyagi would have been able to kill him with one full force punch.
  • Bully Brutality: Every one of the nasty karate students Daniel runs into (the Cobra Kai, Chozen) gives him sound beatings.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Used as a finishing move for each of the films, standing on one leg, using a child's drum, doing katas and the praying mantis jump kick.
    • The second film opens with Miyagi teaching Daniel about a breathing technique to focus the mind and body to pound in nails in one hit. Mid-way through the movie Daniel is challenged to break the sheets of ice and Miyagi reminds him of the technique.
    • The reason why he needs the drum technique is illustrated when Chozen easily defeats the Crane.
    • In the third film, Daniel must rappel down a cliff to retrieve a valuable bonsai tree. Good thing his new girlfriend's hobby is mountain climbing.
  • Cherry Tapping: Miyagi nose-honking Kreese at the beginning of Part II, then Daniel doing the same to Chozen at the end.
  • Classy Cravat: Lord knows why, but Terry wears a cravat during the tournament at the end of the third movie.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Kreese's philosophy reads like this on paper; in actual effect, it's... rather different. He's effectively teaching the kids to be thugs.
    • Miyagi has never fought for points, only for his life. A bit strangely for a heroic character, he seems to have no compunction against using a Groin Attack in combat, or against teaching Daniel to do the same.
  • Continuity Nod: Miyagi makes several passing references to "Daniel-san" in The Next Karate Kid, to the point of muttering that it was rather "easier to live with boys" when he inadvertently takes a peek of Julie in her underwear when he walks into her room.
  • Cool Car: Miyagi has several.
  • Cool Old Guy: Take a guess...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Sato is a Corrupt Land Owner who is willing to destroy the village to goad Miyagi into that fight of his. He already had a monopoly on the fishing industry (condemning the villagers to a life of poverty) when Miyagi arrived to see his father.
    • Hi again, Terry from Part III! Oh, and bonus: his company is called Dyna-Tox Industries. Yes, really. Their PR team must cry themselves to sleep every night!
  • Cruel Mercy: In Part II, Miyagi humiliates Kreese, later saying his life is punishment enough for him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Pretty much every time Mr. Miyagi gets his hands dirty.
  • Deadly Dodging: When Kreese attacks Mr Miyagi at the start of the second film he never hits back just dodging while Kreese punches through two car windows (definitely not Soft Glass). Taken Up to Eleven in the remake.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miyagi in the first film especially.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Julie to Daniel.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Most kids who bully Daniel quickly move to attempted murder once he tries to defend himself. Inverted in Part 3, where Barnes starts entirely too much shit throughout the movie, but gets off with nothing more than a loss by a single point.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even bullies like Bobby and Johnny balk when ordered to injure Daniel, though Kreese ultimately intimidates them into it.
    • Bobby also tries to convince Johnny at one point that Johnny is going too far with a particularly nasty attack on Daniel.
  • Evil Mentor: Instructing his students to cheat? Check. Inspiring them to be sadistic bullies? Check. Strangling them for failing? Check. All Kreese needs is a whip and a cat, and he'd be the trope picture.
  • Evil Wears Black: Well mean bullies wear black, but the Cobra Kai uniforms otherwise count.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: the beatings Daniel receives frequently leave him covered in bruises and/or blood.
  • Fight Magnet:
    • For a guy who doesn't want to fight, Mr. Miyagi beats up a lot of people.
    • Same goes for Daniel; the first two movie pretty much shows No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
  • Finish Him!: Kreese's instructions to the Cobra Kai.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: John Kreese and Terry Silver.
  • Five-Bad Band: The five Cobra Kai who play major roles in the first movie and the beginning of the second. Kreese is the Big Bad, Johnny is The Dragon, Tommy is a smartass version of the Evil Genius, Dutch is The Brute, and Bobby, the non-conformist and least vicious in the group, is the Dark Chick.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Daniel first goes to Mr. Miyagi's house for training, he sees oil pumps and asks Miyagi if he's in the oil business. Mr. Miyagi replies, "Not everything is as seem."
    • The poster of Sato breaking a log. Miyagi breaks a wooden beam of similar size in one blow to save Sato from being pinned under it during the typhoon.
  • For the Evulz:
    • It may not be why Terry first harasses Daniel, but it's certainly why he enjoys it.
    • The whole series features some of the most nonsensical villains you'll ever see. Good luck coming up with any motivation by the time you get to Dugan from Next.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: A ballroom filled with refined, upper-crust partygoers all stop dancing and put down their canapes just to laugh at Daniel-San after he bumps into a waiter and gets bolognese sauce all over his outfit. They're probably mocking the poor waiter too, but it doesn't come across as strongly.
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • "Sweep the leg."
    • In the reboot: "I don't want him beaten; I want him broken" and "Break his leg."
  • Gang of Bullies: The Cobras.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Johnny rolling a joint in the bathroom.
    • The Tea Ceremony. When Yukie and Miyagi did that, Miyagi showed up next scene sweating and wearing a wife beater shirt. Since Kumiko and Daniel were doing the same ceremony, it's pretty obvious what she wanted with him....until hurricane cockblock showed up.
  • Good Times Montage: Montage of Daniel and his love interest having a good time at the arcade.
  • Graceful Loser: Johnny, after Daniel wins the tournament. Kreese... Not so much.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Mr. Miyagi, believe it or not. It was a five on one battle...that soon became a four on one.
    • Daniel delivers one to Chozen at the sock hop dance, using a technique Miyagi taught him.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: To get to the level of competition that the Cobra Kai students are at requires years of training and physical conditioning. Daniel goes through a Training Montage of a few weeks and wins the tournament. It makes sense when you consider that Kreese is either a bad karate instructor and/or Miyagi is that much better.
    • Somewhat handwaved by stating that Daniel had studied karate in the past, but only at a lower level. Also, training at dojos usually only takes up a few hours each week (and, given Johnny's age, he wouldn't have had too much time for practice unless Kreese was paying him). Daniel was spending a lot of free time with Miyagi.
    • Subtly hinted by Miyagi that Kreese was indeed as bad as implied, as he spents more time punishing his students rather than helping them develop whereas Miyagi sets Daniel to do various mundane tasks specifically to make him practice essential moves. Miyagi would later prove that he is the superior master in the sequel.
  • Healing Hands: Mr. Miyagi knows a few Pressure Point techniques. Mr. Han in the reboot uses similar techniques.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Sato, after Miyagi and Daniel rescue him from his destroyed house during the typhoon. He orders Chozen to do the same thing, and Chozen refuses (see I Have No Son).
  • Help Mistaken for Attack: The second movie has Sato trapped under a long piece of wood during a storm, and when Miyagi walks over, Sato thinks the idea is to finish him off while he is trapped, only to find out that Miyaki just wanted to free Sato from the rubble.
  • I Have No Son: Sato to Chozen after Chozen refuses to help Daniel rescue the bellringer during the typhoon. "Now, to you, I am dead."
  • Inspirational Insult: In The Karate Kid 3, Daniel gets up to face Barnes again after Barnes yells, "Your karate's junk. You're nothing. Your slope teacher's nothing!" This gives Daniel more motivation to win.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.
  • Japanese Honorifics: Miyagi always appends -san to Daniel's name. A minor mistake, as -kun would be more appropriate to their relationship. It would also be more correctly applied to his family name, not his given name.
  • Jerkass: The Cobra Kai.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • In the first film, besides Daniel being bullied by the Cobras, some of the kids ridicule him after being beaten up by Johnny. Ali's girlfriends also rather inexplicably despise Daniel from the get-go.
      • With regards to the kids, it was likely a combination of them sucking up to the Cobras, as well as not wanting to get their asses kicked for being associated with Daniel. As for Ali's girlfriends, they likely despised him because he was from the wrong side of the tracks and hence wasn't good enough for Ali in their opinion.
    • The remake is even worse with this.
  • Kung-Fu Kid
  • Large Ham: Sato doesn't merely chew the scenery; he devours it in great gulps.
    "Your fear make air STINK!!"
  • Literal-Minded:
    Daniel: (upon being instructed on Wax On, Wax Off) Where did all these cars come from?
    Miyagi: Detroit.
  • Magical Asian: Mr. Miyagi.
  • Martial Pacifist: Mr. Miyagi hates fighting, but is VERY competent when the situation calls for it.
  • Martial Medic: Mr. Miyagi.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Johnny and his friends are too busy beating up Daniel to notice Miyagi jumping the fence, ready to jump them.
  • Mood Whiplash: Drunk Miyagi, it starts off as very funny until he relives a moment where he finds out about his wife and kid's passing.
  • Motive Decay: Terry in Part III does what he does out of friendship and loyalty to his friend, John. The opening scenes of the movie really do a good job of driving this home. And yet, he's the one who comes up with the idea of completely destroying Danny and Miyagi, and his motivation ends up devolving completely into this.
  • MST: The commentary for the DVD collection invokes this, with the writer, the director, and even Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita themselves snarking over the film.
  • Neutral Female: Kumiko attempts to subvert it by trying to pull Chozen away from Daniel during their last fight. It doesn't work, but the effort is appreciated.
  • Never My Fault: Chozen blames Daniel for dishonoring him. Daniel 1) accidentally revealed that he was cheating the villagers, 2) fairly won a bet that Chozen forced him into, and 3) helped save some of the villagers from the typhoon while Chozen was doing nothing.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Daniel's initial fight with Johnny, and even more the Cobra Kai gang-beating he receives in the school dance scene.
  • Not My Driver: In the second movie, a car is waiting for Mr. Miyagi and Daniel when they arrive in Okinawa. When Miyagi asks the driver why they're heading away from the village where he wants to go, the driver and his friend reply "Some things have changed since you were last here, Miyagi-san..." "...and some things have not, eh?" Mr. Miyagi and Daniel soon learn what this means when they reach their real destination: a warehouse where Mr. Sato and his nephew Chozen confront them.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mr. Miyagi only appears ignorant and senile.
  • Obviously Evil: Terry in the third movie. They have multiple scenes entirely dedicated to piling on gratuitous For the Evulz moments for the guy. He's an obnoxious rich guy who dumps toxic waste wherever he can get away with it, bribes judges, makes sure to hire, not the best karate champion but specifically "Karate's Bad Boy" and is in touch with local "bad boys" to hook him up with his mooks. Oh, and he wants to destroy the lives of a kid and an elderly man because they inadvertently humiliated his friend Kreese when Kreese tried to destroy their lives.
  • Old Master: Miyagi teaches Karate.
  • The Only Way They Will Learn: Daniel's being made to perform menial tasks for Mr. Miyagi to build the strength and muscle memory necessary for effective blocks. For Julie, he sets up his teaching of the waltz as a typical karate instruction.
  • Opposed Mentors: The third Karate Kid movie has the main character pick up an Evil Mentor after an argument with Miyagi.
  • Ordered to Cheat: "Sweep the Leg" is the former Trope Namer (though the "out of commission" order fits much better).
  • Parental Substitute: Miyagi and Daniel form a very close father/son dynamic throughout the films. So do Distaff Counterparts Yukie and Kumiko.
  • Playing Gertrude: Thomas Ian Griffith, who played Terry (a Vietnam Veteran around Kreese's age) in Part III is younger than Ralph Macchio (who still played a teenager).
  • Police Are Useless: Part of the plot of the third movie.
  • Post Game Retaliation:
    • In The Karate Kid, Part Two, John Kreese does this to his losing students after they were beaten by Daniel in the first movie. He yells at them and gets physical until Mr. Miyagi intervenes. It doesn't go well for Kreese.
    • The alternate ending to the 2010 remake has Master Li do the same after his students lose to Dre. Mr. Han intervenes and trashes Li in a fight, contributing to his Humiliation Conga.
  • Quality Over Quantity: The novelization had Daniel complain to Mr. Miyagi before the tournament that he didn't know very many moves. Miyagi replied that he was better than the Cobra-Kais at the ones he did know.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: About two-thirds of the way into the film Daniel walks in on a very drunk Mr. Miyagi dressed up in a World War II-era US Army uniform. Miyagi earned the Medal of Honor fighting in the European theatre as part of the all-nisei (Japanese-American) 442nd Infantry Regiment. Truth in Television: The 442nd is the most heavily decorated military unit in American history, including earning 21 MOHs for the European war. A member of the regiment later said that they fought all the harder to prove their loyalty to America in the face of their fellow nisei being packed into internment camps back home (in which Miyagi's wife and son died in childbirth).
  • Retired Badass: Mr. Miyagi, who'd earned medals in World War II, including the Medal of Honor.
    • Some Truth in Television and Fridge Brilliance there, given Miyagi is apparently a Japanese national. Those Japanese who signed up to fight with the US armed forces during World War II were put together in one unit. That unit earned more medals and Medals of Honor per head than any other in any branch of service.
    • Even more of both in a sad way, as Miyagi's pregnant wife was taken to a Japanese interment camp and died there in childbirth, as did the son she gave birth to. Miyagi's drunken re-reading of the telegram informing him of this leads to a small Heroic BSOD in the first movie.
  • Revenge Myopia: Chosen in the second film. He blames Daniel for "dishonoring" him — by doing such things as revealing that he was using false weights in his dealings with the villagers. Daniel lampshades this:
    He cheats people and I'm insulting his honor?
  • Running Gag: Reminding people that it's pronounced Mi-ya-gi, not Mi-ya-ji.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Ali is nice, pretty, the ex-girlfriend of Johnny, and lives with upper-class parents in a Big Fancy House...and that's all that's really known about her before she's easily written out of the sequel.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Kreese attacks Johnny after destroying his trophy, prompting Miyagi to give him a little lesson.
  • Serial Escalation: The first film had Daniel dealing with a gang of bullies who at worst would rough him up repeatedly. His big showdown with them takes place at a tournament with rules, regulations, and time outs if things get too rough. The sequel has Daniel in a real fight at the end, with the very real possibility that he could lose his life.
  • The So-Called Coward: The main plot of Part 2 when Sato, who dismissed Miyagi as a coward for years, finally sees him and Daniel in action during a typhoon and realizes to his astonishment at how powerful and fearless they really are when necessary. As a result, he insists on helping them and makes amends the next morning.
  • So Last Season: The Crane Technique to the Drum Technique.
  • Step Three: Profit: Even if Barnes had beaten Danny in the third film, his star pupil being a bullying thug would've sunk Silver's new Cobra Kai before the doors opened. Though it's clear Silver could give a crap about the money.
  • Taught by Experience: Miyagi was formally trained by his father, but had little knowledge on how tournaments work. He didn't even know much about the belt system.
    Daniel: I thought you said you've been in plenty of fights?
    Miyagi: Hai, for life, not for points.
  • There Is No Try:
    Miyagi: Now, ready?
    Daniel: Yeah, I guess so.
    Miyagi: Daniel-san, must talk.
    (they sit down)
    Miyagi: Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later (makes squish gesture) get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do "yes" or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so," (makes squish gesture) just like grape. Understand?
    Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
    Miyagi: Now, ready?
    Daniel: Yeah, I'm ready.
  • Token Good Teammate: Bobby is by far the most civil of the Cobra-Kai, being the only one who even worries about taking their abuse of Daniel too far.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Daniel.
  • Training Montage: "You're the Best (Around)" (not by Survivor, of "Eye of the Tiger" fame, but by Joe "Bean" Esposito) played during the tournament montage. Not exactly a training montage, but Daniel learned how good he had gotten from Miyagi's training. It makes sense, given that the first three movies were directed by John G. Avildsen, who also directed Rocky. Not to mention that, while performed by Esposito, the song is written by Bill Conti, who composed "Gonna Fly Now" for Rocky.
  • Thug Dojo: The Cobra Kai is probably the most famous example to Western audiences.
  • Trickster Mentor: Mr. Miyagi.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Ali, who ends up going on to dump Daniel for a college jock.
  • Villainous BSOD: Bobby who was always the most laid back of the Cobra Kais has a minor one after Kreese forces him to injure Daniel's knee and practically breaks down in tears apologizing.
  • Villainous Crush: Ned in The Next Karate Kid has one on Julie. Implicit with Chozen and Kumiko in Part II.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Sensei Kreese delivers a denigrating speech about mercy to his students.
    Mercy is for the weak. We do not train to be merciful here. If a man faces you, he is the enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Trope Namer (also inverted in the fourth movie when Mr. Miyagi teaches Julie a new "kata": the waltz).
  • We Used to Be Friends: Mr. Miyagi and Sato were best friends growing up, until Miyagi fell in love with Yuki, who was arranged to marry Sato. One day Miyagi announced in front of the whole town that he wanted to marry Yuki. Sato, who felt as though he had been insulted, challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death. Miyagi fled to America rather than fight his best friend, and Sato held a grudge for decades.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Er, where did that Freddy kid go in the first film? He seemed set up to become a good friend of Daniel's but he just...disappeared. His other friends peer pressure him into ditching Daniel in the football practice scene after the beach fight. He can however briefly be seen watching the tournament right at the end and is presumably part of the crowd that lifts Daniel onto their shoulders after he wins.
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: Subverted. Daniel can catch a fly with chopsticks on his first go, even Miyagi can't. Beginner's Luck.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: At the beginning of Part II, Miyagi spared Kreese's life after squashing him in an act of self-defense.
    Daniel: You could have killed him, couldn't you?
    Mr. Miyagi: Hai.
    Daniel: Well, why didn't you?
    Mr. Miyagi: Because Daniel, for man with no forgiveness in heart, life worse punishment than death.
  • The Worf Effect: Daniel suffers this in both the sequels.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Daniel's plea to Miyagi to perform the pressure point healing technique on his leg, letting his master know that he fully understands the meaning of balance.
  • You Have Failed Me: A variation. Kreese strangles Johnny for failing to win and for telling him off for acting crazy. Who knows how far he would have gone had Miyagi not been there.
  • You No Take Candle:
    • Mr. Miyagi's stereotyped broken English.
    • Possibly inverted by the fight announcer from the first film, who somehow got a job MCing a karate tournament without knowing how Japanese syllables are pronounced ("Me-yah-jee-doh Karate").

The 2010 remake has examples of:

  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Han gives Dre a white jacket at the end of his training.
  • Almighty Janitor: Jackie Chan plays a literal janitor who is also a master in the ancient art of being Jackie Chan.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Cheng is a sadistic little creep. The rest of the Fighting Dragons too, especially the teacher, Li.
  • Artifact Title: Being set in China, the film uses Kung Fu rather than Karate.
  • Badass Adorable: Dre becomes this as the story progresses.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Viewers who knew mandarin would have pegged Meiying's father as a potential source of conflict early on once they heard Cheng and Meiying's first conversation (which didn't show up in the subs).
  • Black Best Friend: Inversion in that as soon as Dre moves to China a local blonde starts being his friend but then disappears after a third of the way into the film.
  • Brick Joke: On Dre's first day of his new school, he's wearing the school uniform. The principal told both him and his mother that they only wear them on uniform day. Later on, it's the school field trip and it's also uniform day. Guess who's not wearing the uniform... Later he meets up with Meiying saying "Look, uniform on uniform day." This time he gets it right.
  • Buffy Speak: "Fiery cup thing."
  • Chekhov's Skill: Snake charming, which Dre uses to psyche Cheng into losing control.
  • Colour Coded Armies: The tournament. Dre is in white and Cheng and his team are in black and red. The other teams, which pretty much serve as cannon fodder, are dressed in green, purple, and blue.
  • Comforting Comforter: A rather sweet scene when Dre falls asleep onto Mr Han's lap and a hesitating Mr Han places a hand on his shoulder.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: The scene involving the hot water switch.
  • Crippling the Competition: Done twice by the Fighting Dragons, on Master Li's orders.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Cheng knocks over Dre's lunch tray and then says "Sorry!"
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The first fight between Cheng and Dre does not go well for Dre at all.
  • Deadly Dodging: When Han defends Dre from bullies he never actually hits any of the kids, probably so the audience doesn't lose sympathy for Han and because it looks really cool.
    Dre: How'd you do that out there? You, like, didn't even punch them. They beat each other up.
  • Death Glare: Cheng has a scary one for a little kid.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Cheng is the one who gives Dre the winning trophy. Then, him and the other boys who had bullied and fought with Dre also pay their respects to Mr. Han. Master Li is also forced to suck it up and applaud Mr. Han's victory.
    • Averted in the the alternate ending/deleted ending. Master Li didn't suck it up. Mr. Han has to stop him from beating his students, to which Li starts a fight and Mr. Han humiliates him in front of an entire spectator crowd as a Continuity Nod to the original films. These scenes were taken out because the producers believed it took too much focus away from Dre's character winning.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Chinese tend to stay silent out of respect after a performance of any sort. So after Mei Ying's recital, they were opt to remain silent. However, Dre, who came from United States, cheered and clapped. This invoked anger from his crush's father.
  • Determinator: Dre first has his leg ruined, and gets some magic Kung-Fu healing. After that it's broken and he finishes the match on one leg. We even see him hopping around after the post-win crowd pan.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The movie was originally called "The Kung-Fu Kid", but Jackie Chan refused to do the movie unless it was renamed Karate Kid to increase its marketing appeal.
  • Disappeared Dad: The fact that Dre's father had died was revealed at the beginning of the movie.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: As part of Dre's training, Mr. Han takes him up a tall mountain to the Dragon Well, where drinking from it purportedly make one invincible. The well is a shallow fountain with a yin-yang symbol in the center.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One of Cheng's cronies tells him to stop hurting Dre, after he has beaten him up significantly.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Subtly done with Li in two scenes. First, when an injured Dre returns to the tournament, the tournament's spectators are impressed, but Li only mockingly applauds, suggesting that he considers Dre's slim chances of winning rather than his courage and fighting spirit. Later, when his own students show their respect to Mr. Han by bowing, he is shocked rather than angry. Which means that he fails to understand why young students would respect a successful, yet kind teacher.
  • Eye Cam: When Cheng beats Dre up for the second time, we see that Dre is so badly hurt that his vision is impaired.
  • Finish Him!: Master Li screams this at Cheng during the final battle against Dre.
  • Fish out of Water: Dre moves from Detroit to Beijing, China. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language/Asian Speekee Engrish: Justified, as Dre is horrible at Chinese and tries to learn bits and pieces. The Chinese people around him either speak English with a heavy accent or don't speak it at all.
  • Idiot Ball: Dre at one point throws a bucket of dirty water on Cheng to get revenge, and gets his ass brutally kicked.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Eventually. Dre tells Han he is his best friend and Han gives him a shirt as a present.
  • Kick the Dog: Master Li is already known to be a jerkass, with the way he teaches his students to show no mercy to their enemies. But he steps into this territory when he slaps one of his students who didn't finish his opponent completely.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Master Li puts heavy emphasis that his students should never show mercy to their enemies, even encouraging his students to attack them while they are defeated.
  • Kung-Fu Kid
  • Love Triangle: A bit of a case with Dre and Cheng who both have a crush on Mei Ying, who chooses Dre.
  • Magic Feather: They don't say it, but the Dragon Well that gives awesome kung-fu powers was just for a confidence boost. Possibly downplayed as the characters knew full well it was simply folklore and never actually believed that the well would grant any powers.
  • Martial Medic
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Han. "Han" (汉), while an actual (but very rare) last name, is also the ethnicity that makes up the majority of China, so it's sort of like calling him "Mr. Chinese Man".
  • Mighty Whitey: Downplayed example. Dre goes to China and and quicks becomes as competent at kung fu as the locals. Downplayed because there is nothing in real life to prevent one of any nationality becoming a talented martial artist and Dre doesn't become that much better than then them. He simply learns a truer form of the art from Han than the perversion Li teaches Dre's adversaries. It's also explained by Underdogs Never Lose.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • There's a scene where Mr. Han sees a fly and, after chasing it around with his chopsticks, whips out a flyswatter, smashes the fly against the wall, picks the fly off with his chopsticks, and continues eating with the chopsticks.
    • The trailer that featured this scene had "You're The Best Around" playing in the background.
    • Also, The Flying Dragons use a variation of "No Mercy" for their motto.
    • Mr. Han waxing his car.
  • Nonindicative Name: The movie is called "The Karate Kid," even though no karate appears in the movie.
    • They threw in a line about Dre knowing "a little Karate" to justify the Artifact Title, and the term is used as a derisive nickname a few times.
    • There are a couple of scenes of Dre trying in earnest to use Karate (albeit trying to learn from an infomercial or some such thing.) The results are less than indicative of the title.
    • And Dre's mother mistakes Kung Fu for Karate.
    • Some have claimed that the original title was "The Kung-Fu Kid" (with many of the film crew using that name during production), but the name was changed due to its name recognition and nostalgia factor.
  • Ordered to Cheat: Master Li orders two of the Flying Dragons to break Dre's leg.
  • Overprotective Dad: Mei Ying's father disapproved of his daughter's friendship with Dre because he saw him as a bad influence to his daughter, causing her to be late for her recital and forbade her from spending time with him. However, he turns out to be much more reasonable than the stereotypical version. When Dre respectfully approaches him and apologizes (in phonetic Chinese), he reconsiders and is later seen actively cheering for Dre.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr Han acts like one of these and a friend to Dre. In return, Dre reminds Mr Han of his deceased son.
  • Parting Words Regret: Mr. Han towards his family.
  • Pet the Dog: a non-villainous example with Mr. Han (who acts like a bit of a jerk when he is first introduced). During the tournament, when Dre knocks one of the Dragons down, it is Mr. Han who helps him up. This little gesture is in sharp contrast with Li's behaviour, who considers showing the opponent kindness a sign of weakness, and even mistreats his students.
  • Recycled Title: Because "The Kung-Fu Kid" would have sounded silly. Ironically, In China, it's called "功夫梦" ("The Kung Fu Dream"); in Japan, and South Korea, it's called "Best Kid" (the same title that was used for the original movie in those countries), and "The Karate Kid" everywhere else.
  • The Remake: Of the 1984 film (see above).
  • Running Gag:
    • Possibly Dre's expression when he hangs up his coat for his mom. Mr. Han makes a point of making sure that "attitude" is there during Dre's "jacket-on, jacket-off" training and it has a spotlight shone on it when it shows up in the tournament.
    • People touching the Parker's hair. At one point, Dre's mother is surrounded by little kids who are happily playing with her hair. Absolutely Truth in Television. Foreigners with either important or distinctive hair in China have been mobbed by children wanting to touch it.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: This is Master Li's reaction when Dre decides to stay in the tournament with a leg injury.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Dre's mother.
  • Serious Business: This is a tournament for young pre-teen kids and Master Li wants his students to break Dre's leg and defeat him completely.
  • Shout-Out: A black kid is bad at basketball and gets in trouble with a local gang of tough kids on the court? Must be genetic.
  • Sleep Cute: Dre, whether it may be in an airplane, a couch or a train.
  • Smug Snake: That smirk Cheng flashes while walking away in the cafeteria scene transcends cultural boundaries.
  • Thug Dojo: It would hardly be a Karate Kid remake without one.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Dre.
  • Underdogs Never Lose
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Jacket on, jacket off, drop the jacket, pick up the jacket, jacket on... it also has the nice side effect of disciplining Dre for his attitude.
  • We Will Meet Again: Dre gets beaten up a few times. A truce is called, pending a tournament.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The blond kid, and first English speaking peer that Dre meets in China. He seems to be set up as a friend, a translator and a general supporter and help to Dre. But nope, after about a third of the way in we only see him in passing at the tournament. This is a Shout-Out to Freddy from the original film, who fades into the background after Daniel starts having run-ins with the bullies, but finally does re-appear in his cheering section.
    • A weird case of Truth in Television. When in a new/unfamiliar location, people of similar backgrounds (national, cultural, and occasionally even ethnic) tend to stick together, if only initially. This is what happened with Dre and the blonde kid - having seen that Dre is an American, the kid offers to help show Dre around the place, but quickly vanishes into the background as Dre figures things out and makes his own friends (and enemies). The blonde kid is sitting there watching the tournament with Dre's mom and Mei Ying, further mirroring Freddy from the original. He just doesn't really say anything or do anything noteworthy.
    • There's also the subplot of Mei Ying practicing for an audition to be accepted to the Beijing Academy of Music. We see the audition, but never find out if she was accepted or not nor just what her instructor meant by "you know what this would mean for your family". We can only assume it was a matter of honor. Like when Dre qualified for the tournament finals (even if just because his opponent was disqualified) and was told he honored his family.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The gang of bullies seem to think they can take on Jackie Chan, the master of improvised fighting, in a yard with random junk strewn all over it? Yeah, good luck with that...
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Dre applauds one of Mei Ying's performances at a time when it is inappropriate to do so.

Alternative Title(s):

Karate Kid, The Next Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part III, The Karate Kid 2010