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THE KARATE KID

Wax on, wax off.

With its inspired tale of an underdog, THE KARATE KID ($25) has become something of a minor classic, and certainly, one of the most iconic films of the 1980s. Even after more than a quarter of a century, THE KARATE KID maintains its integrity and feel good qualities that should keep it popular with audiences for at least another quarter of a century. John G. Avildsen, who also directed the Academy Award winning ROCKY, imbues THE KARATE KID with a similar uplifting sense, as we watch the filmís protagonist come from behind to beat all the odds.

The premise of THE KARATE KID finds Newark, New Jersey high school sophomore Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) transplanted to Southern California, when his mother (Randee Heller) decides to seek greener pastures on the other side of the country. Unfortunately, the Jersey boy has a hard time fitting in, and things only get worse when he makes friends with high school cheerleader Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), which earns Daniel the ire of Aliís ex-boyfriend Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). Beating down Daniel becomes a regular pastime for Johnny and his karate buddies from the Cobra Kai dojo, that is, until Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the elderly handyman from Danielís apartment building, steps in and defeats the teenís attackers.

Although Daniel wants Miyagi to become his karate teacher, the older man refuses, wanting to take a diplomatic approach to the problem. However, after meeting with John Kreese (Martin Kove), the sensei of Cobra Kai dojo, diplomacy proves impossible. Kreese is almost more unreasonable than his students, which prompts Miyagi to agree to train Daniel, so that he can face Johnny in two months time, in an official match at the All Valley Karate Tournament. During the time of Danielís physical training, Miyagi teaches his student a whole lot more than merely fightingÖ which ultimately results in a great bond being formed between the fatherless student and his elderly mentor.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE KARATE KID available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE KARATE KID comes with a very solid 1080p presentation, which accurately reflects the sometimes-unremarkable nature of 1980ís era film stocks. Image sharpness and the level of detail are good for a modestly budgeted film from this period, but THE KARATE KID never looks like a new movie. In comparison to a newer film, THE KARATE KID appears slightly softer, which is exactly how it should look. Fine detail is more than respectable, with close-ups coming across stronger and more textured than medium or long shots. Colors appear warm and deliver a good level of saturation. Blacks are deep, and the whites appear clean. Contrast is generally smooth. While shadow detail is sometimes a bit limited, it usually holds its own. The elements from which THE KARATE KID has been transferred appear relatively clean. Grain is ever-present, and helps maintain a film-like quality.

THE KARATE KID is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that this soundtrack originated in the Dolby Surround era, the lossless audio is really quite good. The sound design is reasonably active, with the outlying channels being effectively utilized for sound effects placement during key moments. Of course, the surrounds arenít as active as a newer film and the localization of the sounds isnít as transparent. Despite the lossless encode, some sound effects come across as thin, which dates the track back to the eighties. However, the musical component does benefit from the lossless encode, with the music sounding more robust than the effects. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director John G. Avildsen, writer Robert Mark Kamen, Ralph Macchio and the Pat Morita. Next up is a new Sony feature called Blu-Pop, which is a picture-in-picture pop-up trivia track (requires a Profile 1.1 player). This edition of Blu-Pop features comments from Ralph Macchio and William Zabka. Featurettes and other programs include: The Way Of The Karate Kid: Part 1 (twenty four minutes), The Way Of The Karate Kid: Part 2 (twenty one minutes), Beyond The Form (thirteen minutes), East Meets West: A Composer's Notebook (eight minutes) and Life Of Bonsai (ten minutes). Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. THE KARATE KID is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

THE KARATE KID is an iconic eighties movie making a much appreciated debut on Blu-ray. The presentation is an accurate reflection of what this type of movie should look like- and that is exactly what Blu-ray should deliver. Recommended.

 

THE KARATE KID 


The Karate Kid [Blu-ray] (1984)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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