The Karate Kid | Chicago Reader

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Rated PG · 126 minutes
New kid in town Ralph Macchio gets pounded by the neo-fascist bullies at his high school until he convinces a kindly Okinawan handyman (Pat Morita) to teach him karate. John G. Avildsen's 1984 film is a cunning commercial blend of Rocky's revenge fantasies and Steven Spielberg's family melodrama: the elderly Oriental, as cuddly as E.T., becomes a benign substitute for Macchio's mysteriously missing father. As in the Rocky films, Avildsen's only directorial strategy is to delay the final confrontation for so long that all the audience's pent-up frustration explodes with it. It's primitive, predatory stuff.

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