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YMMV / The Karate Kid

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YMMVs for the original film series:

Entries in this series with their own YMMV page:

General YMMVs

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Mr. Miyagi is the real main character of the film series. Community even theorized that the film was more about Mr. Miyagi than about Daniel.
    • When you pay attention to the fine details of the story, Daniel instigates some of the conflicts such as the Halloween party incident (even if Johnny and his group went farther than necessary). This became famous after being discussed in a YouTube video essay. That said, Johnny was harassing Ali at multiple points and at several points even his own goons felt he would take things too far in his retributions of Daniel's own and admittedly less extreme aggravations. This fan theory seems to be the starting point around which Cobra Kai was built. While Johnny has to admit that he acted poorly, the humiliation Daniel put him through had an impact on the rest of his life. Daniel himself had to admit some fault in the matter but the end message of the series is like Miyagi said, there are no bad students, only bad teachers.
  • Awesome Music:
    • "You're the best, around, nothing's ever gonna keep you down!"
    • Bill Conti's score deserves mention also. Including the main theme derived from Survivor's "Moment of Truth." Survivor had the freakin' market cornered on rousing 80's anthems.
    • Not to mention "Glory of Love" by Peter Cetera.
    • And "Rock 'n Roll Over You" by The Moody Blues, played during the ice-chopping scene.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Johnny Lawrence is perhaps the only antagonist in the franchise to get this treatment, with many fans claiming that Daniel "ruined" his chances with Ali and was the real bully, disregarding how Ali and Johnny had long broken up, with Johnny constantly harassing her despite her protests; and even though Daniel doing some less than nice things himself (such as dousing Johnny and co. with a water hose after they had left him alone for weeks), Johnny did far worse and nearly killed Daniel in various occasions without much of a provocation, an act that even some of his friends thought was too far. He became popular enough to grant him protagonist status in the sequel series, Cobra Kai.
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  • Fanon Discontinuity: Fans of the second film could just view it as the Grand Finale of the Karate Kid franchise while ignoring the rest that follows completely... until Cobra Kai. Amusingly, Cobra Kai treats the third film as canon, since Daniel's second tournament win is acknowledged and Johnny is asked about Terry Silver and Mike Barnes, though it seems he doesn't know them.
  • First Installment Wins: While the second film was an even bigger hit and received its fair share of positive notices, the first entry in the series is the one that everyone remembers. The first film's impact was so large that Pat Morita earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
  • Genius Bonus: A few:
    • Miyagi's habit of calling Daniel "Daniel-San" is a lot funnier if you know a little bit about the Japanese language. The suffix "-san" (さん) is an honorific (roughly akin to "mister" or "sir") used to address one's elders or social superiors, and not the sort of thing that an older man would typically use to address his teenage student (those would usually be "kun" and "chan"). When Miyagi says it, he's not just being charmingly exotic—he's subtly mocking Daniel for being young and inexperienced. At the same time, Japanese names frequently list family name first, given name second. "Daniel-san" is basically "Mr. Daniel," not unlike Kreese calling Johnny "Mr. Lawrence."
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    • There's a few scattered hints of what karate styles Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai are intended to represent:
      • Miyagi-Do seems to be based on Gōjū-ryū due Miyagi's parallels with Gōjū-ryū's founder, teaching Daniel one of their core kata (or at least a Hollywood version of it) and many of its principles, and, most importantly, Chozen (whose teacher was trained in Miyagi-do) wearing a Gōjū-ryū patch on his gi.
      • If you look among the pictures of famous Miyagi ancestors on Miyagi's wall, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, you can spot a photograph of Chojun Miyagi.
      • Cobra Kai seems instead to be (mostly) based on Tang Soo Do (the style of the film's fight choreographer Pat. E. Johnson. Not strictly karate, but in the US in the eighties not many would know the difference) based on its heavy use of kicks, Terry Silver mentioning a Kim Sun-Yung (and stating he is Korean) as his and Kreese's teacher, and Johnny's use of commands in Korean when teaching in Cobra Kai.
  • Ham and Cheese: Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver. He's one physical deformity away from being a Captain Planet villain. Or a Bond Villain.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The general complaints concerning the third movie, especially after the well received second movie.
  • Memetic Mutation: Many things, most famously the Crane Kick in the sunset image. But some of the dialogue has achieved that point as well.
    "Get him a body-bag! Ye-heah!"
    "Sweep the leg."
    "Johnny, you're a cream puff!"
    "Strike first. Strike hard. No Mercy!"
    "Mercy is for the weak!"
    And of course, "Wax On, Wax Off."
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Johnny has several: trying to run over Daniel, running him off a hill with a motorbike, nearly beating him to death after the Halloween prank, and trying to sexually assault Ali over the course of the entire movie.
    • Chozen crosses this by refusing to help Daniel save a child's life during a storm. Just in case nobody got it, in the finale he holds a knife to Kumiko's throat and punches her lights out.
    • John Kreese came off pretty unsympathetic when he nearly choked his own student to death over losing a karate tournament.
    • Barnes was when he left Daniel and Jessica trapped at the bottom of a gorge with high tide coming in unless he signed up for the tournament, then broke the priceless bonsai tree even when Daniel did.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Glory of Love would've been a super ultra narmy and cheesy love song that Tastes Like Diabetes... if it wasn't performed by a pro like Peter Cetera, who makes it really charming.
    • Roger Ebert found Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver's over the top performance the best and most redeeming quality of the third movie.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Searching on YouTube you'd be surprised to find fan edits that have Johnny Lawrence winning the Karate Tournament instead of Daniel.
  • Sequelitis: The third movie, common complaints involving that Ralph started to show his age, and the fact that it was a rehash of the first movie.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Freddy would've been a great sidekick to Daniel.
    • Think of how interesting the story structure could have been in the third movie had Kumiko became Daniel's recurring girlfriend in that movie. Instead of just throwing another random love interest into the mix.
    • And of course, many were saddened that Ali and Daniel broke up between the first and second film and then disappeared from the rest of the series.


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