The Karate Kid 4K Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
The Karate Kid Summary
Celebrate the 35th anniversary of the coming-of-age classic — from Academy Award®-winning director (1976, Rocky) John G. Avildsen — that will leave you cheering! There is more to karate than fighting. This is the lesson that Daniel (Ralph Macchio), a San Fernando Valley teenager, is about to learn from a most unexpected teacher: Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat ” Morita in his Academy Award®-nominated performance [Best Supporting Actor, 1984]), an elderly handyman who also happens to be a master of the martial arts. His training and these vital lessons will be called into play when an outmatched Daniel faces Johnny, the skilled leader of the Cobra Kai — a vicious gang of karate school bullies — in a no-holds-barred karate tournament for the championship of the Valley.
The Karate Kid Movie Review
Since I remember seeing The Karate Kid, and it’s sequel, in theaters as a kid, the fact that it’s now 35 years old made me feel a bit older than usual when doing this review. I also hadn’t seen the film in at least 20 years, so it was good to revisit it and see how it holds up. Some things look a bit different now than I remember back then. Daniel is much more of an annoying little punk kid at the start than you remember and keeps going after Cobra Kai long after someone else would stop. His friends that he meets at his apartment complex are very quick to abandon him once he has a run-in with Cobra Kai as well.
The rest of the story holds up fairly well. Elizabeth Shue is given mostly a background role as the girlfriend who has parents that don’t like the kid from the other side of the tracks but doesn’t add much depth. It mostly serves as a way to cause conflict between Daniel and Cobra Kai. I also do not believe in any way that Johnny would be part of Cobra Kai, be OK with sweeping the leg in the final match, and then happily hand the trophy over to Daniel and congratulate him 30 seconds later. It was still fun to go back and watch The Karate Kid again, and I’m sure it’ll continue to be one of the classic films of my childhood.
The Karate Kid Technical Review
The Karate Kid was shot on 35mm film and was given a new 4K scan for this release. Overall this release looks fantastic. There is grain present throughout, with more grain in the darker scenes, but bright scenes have very little of it. HDR is used sparingly but effectively for things like motorbike headlights at night or a sun in the background. Doing this avoids accentuating the film grain and causing negative effects. Some very dark scenes are a bit too grainy and shadow crushed, but that might just be the state of the film elements. Overall The Karate Kid will likely never look better than it does here.
The soundtrack has been redone with Dolby Atmos but doesn’t take full advantage of it. Dialogue is clear and crisp, but the atmospheric speakers are used very little, and the dynamics of the overall soundtrack and lacking compared to a modern release. There isn’t anything to complain about as the soundtrack doesn’t take away from the film, it just doesn’t offer the levels of immersion and dynamics that more recent titles do.
The Karate Kid Special Features
- ALL-NEW: “Remembering The Karate Kid” – featuring new interviews with Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Martin Kove (on the 4K UHD disc)
- “Blu-Pop™” Pop-Up Track – Activate the Blu-Pop feature to reveal pop-up trivia, interviews and more secrets from the film!
- Commentary with Director John G. Avildsen, Writer Robert Mark Kamen and Actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita
- “The Way of the Karate Kid” Multi-Part Making-of Featurette
- “Beyond the Form” Featurette
- “East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook”
- “Life of Bonsai” Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer (on the 4K UHD disc)
The Karate Kid Review System
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Still a great watch after all these years, looks as good as I can imagine a film from 35 years ago looking that was shot on 35mm
Atmos soundtrack lacks the immersion and dynamics of modern soundtracks
The Karate Kid is a classic film for my generation, and this disc is the best it has ever looked or sounded. If you want to watch Daniel battle Cobra Kai again, this is the best way to do it.