SPOILER ALERT: Thoughts I had Watching “The Karate Kid” for the First Time as an Adult in 2016

My health wasn’t great for a few months this summer, and I spent a lot more time than I’m happy with lying in bed and staring into space. (I can’t even read very well on those days, which was torture.) To keep from wallowing in depression about how this isn’t the life I want for myself, I started watching all those classic movies I know I should’ve seen but never got around to for some reason.

Because I don’t have the joy of talking about these movies like I would’ve had I seen them when they were still relevant, I recorded my inner monologue during each screening, which I will now share with you.

You’re welcome.

Thoughts on the Original “Karate Kid” (1984)

First and Foremost/Awful Confession: I FINALLY get the “Wax on, wax off” reference. All these years I’ve really thought it was some obscure car wax brand commercial from the 80’s that I was too young to see (I was born in ’83). So THIS WHOLE TIME I’ve been smiling and nodding awkwardly when people say “wax on, wax off”.

I’ve been living a lie, is what I’m saying here.

Thoughts in Chronological Order

~ Ralph Macchio can get it. Wait… How old is he in this movie? (:::does the Googles::) Oh good! 22! That puts me in cougar territory, but he’s still legal.
And no, I’m not going to bother learning his character’s name because it’s too late for me to absorb that information at this point in my life.

~ Oh, hold on a second. Who’s his friend at the beach party with the curly hair and the big nose and the red headband? He’s way more my type. (:::goes to IMDB to search obscure-80’s teen extra:::)

~ Really? Another role with Elisabeth Shue playing the generic, personality-less girlfriend of the protagonist? Was Disney really the only one to give her a break in the 80’s?! At least in “The Saint”, she has cold fusion going for her…

~ Wait. Did the mom just straight up lie about having a decent job in LA on top of the no-pool-no-nice-house thing? Is that part of the “Everything sucks for Macchio” motif or did I miss something? Is she waiting tables?

~ I’m disappointed that “Cobra Kai” wasn’t spelled with two K’s since it’s clearly a training center for the Aryan brotherhood. This seems like where I imagine Mens Rights Activist dads send their slightly effeminate sons when they’ve been waitlisted at conversion therapy centers.

~ OH SHIT MIYAGI BUSTING HEADS!!! This is satisfying! More of this please!!
… We won’t get more of this, will we?

~QUIT WHINING, Macchio, GAWD. Miyagi is building your strength and muscle memory, obviously. You’ve had three days of mindless hard labor with nothing to think about except Elisabeth Shue and hating your mom, and you couldn’t figure this out?!

~… See? Jeez.

~I’m gonna be honest; there is a lot more back-and-forth subplot noise about the love interest than I care to see. This is a snooze. Does this pay off? Does she somehow save the day? Is she a secret ninja warrior who is going to murder everyone at the end? Why are we watching their every move on these dates? Is she gonna get knocked up? Where is this going?
If this whole storyline ends with them just kissing victoriously, I’m going to sprain something rolling my eyes.

~ I do love how unprocessed and natural everyone looks, though. Like, they keep calling Elisabeth “blonde” even though it’s really just super light brown. That would never happen these days, but there was such a different dynamic in teen movies up until recently. Even in “Clueless”, Cher and her friends look only lightly made-up; she wasn’t a bleached, emaciated caricature of a teen like Hollywood insists on presenting in modern films. I miss when people on screen weren’t hyperstylized at every single turn.

~ Wh-why is this the first time I’m experiencing the Miyagi Drinking Song ever!? Why isn’t THIS the most quoted thing in the movie?! This is the best drunk-singing scene since Robert Shaw.

~I’m having issues dealing with Miyagi’s sadness. I’m not prepared for this magnificent badass to be drunk and melancholy. This is too much like Early-20’s Me for my comfort.

~ Here comes Inevitable 80’s Training Montage!!!
…OH NOOO. This song isn’t just a fake song made up by the “South Park” guys as a joke about hilariously cheesy 80’s montage songs?!
Man, I have a lot more pop culture blind spots than I thought going into this.

~ What’s the deal with Old Dude Befriending Young Dude Buddy Films (Featuring Elisabeth Shue) from the mid-80s? At least this kid was new to town; what was Marty McFly’s excuse?

~ SECOND EMBARRASSING CONFESSION: Alright, also, I thought it was “Sweep the lake, Johnny” because, on Patton Oswalt’s 2007 comedy masterpiece “Werewolves and Lollipops” album, he uses that term in reference to taking a girl to buy Plan B after a one-night stand and he blurts it out and I heard “lake” and when you’re looking for dead bodies in a lake or a field, it’s called a “sweep”, so I 1) had no idea it was a Karate Kid reference and 2) have been saying “Sweep the lake” like an idiot for about a decade now.
This exercise is allowing me to face a lot of truths about myself.

~ Wait. That’s it? He won the contest so now he’s not going to get the crap beaten out of him by the Hitler Youth Ninjas supposedly? And that’s it?

~ Ohhh, that wasn’t it. There’s the victorious kiss from Elisabeth Shue… She’s not a secret ninja and Miyagi is still sad and alone. :::sigh:::

~ Okay, honestly, this is a satisfying enough story about humility and inner growth and strength. I get why it was a hit for the kids; it’s basically Rocky Jr. But what happens in the sequels if his self-empowerment storyline is over? Was it just a Mighty Ducks thing where the stakes in every film get higher and higher? Is he battling the Yakuza by Karate Kid 3?

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