The Karate Kid 40th Anniversary UHD Review

4.5 Stars Triple dipper
The Karate Kid 40th anniversary

The Karate Kid from 1984 gets a triple dip release on UHD disc from Sony.

The Karate Kid (1984)
Released: 22 Jun 1984
Rated: PG
Runtime: 126 min
Director: John G. Avildsen
Genre: Action, Drama, Family, Sport
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove
Writer(s): Robert Mark Kamen
Plot: A martial arts master agrees to teach karate to a bullied teenager.
IMDB rating: 7.2
MetaScore: 60

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG
Run Time: 2 Hr. 7 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 06/18/2024
MSRP: $38.99

The Production: 4.5/5

When his mother Lucille (Randee Heller) is offered a new job in Los Angeles, she and her son Daniel (Ralph Macchio) drive cross country, moving into a rundown apartment building in Reseda. He is greeted on moving day by neighbor Freddy (Israel Juarbe), who invites him to a beach party as a way of saying goodbye to summer just before school starts. At the party, Daniel meets Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), and the two hit it off until her jealous ex-boyfriend Johnny (William Zabka) crashes the party with his gang on motorcycles, assaulting Daniel. At school, he sees Ali and they continue to hit it off on the soccer field, until Bobby (Ron Thomas), one of Johnny’s gang members, intentionally trips Daniel, and the two have a short scuffle on the field before the coach breaks it up and send Daniel home. The next day, Ali meets up with Daniel in the cafeteria where Daniel buys her lunch. Later that evening, while riding his bike home, Johnny’s gang forces him off the road, tumbling down a hill and damaging the bicycle. The apartment building’s maintenance supervisor, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), has been watching Daniel and during the night fixes the bicycle. The two strike up a friendship of sorts, with Mr. Miyagi becoming Daniel’s mentor and father figure, agreeing to train him in the art of karate so that Daniel can face Johnny at the karate championship and earn respect and end the bullying.

Watching the original The Karate Kid today, it has become a timeless classic of overcoming bullies using untraditional methods (the only thing really dating the picture is its very 1980s MTV-inspired soundtrack). Pat Morita is the real star here, deservedly receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination from the Motion Picture Academy. His character brings a lot of warmth and humor to the film, with many of his lines still part of pop culture today, such as “Wax on, wax off.” Macchio and Shue have a noticeable chemistry here, and the script by Robert Mark Kamen (Gladiator, Lethal Weapon 3) doesn’t play up the rich girl poor boy angle too much other than adding another obstacle for Daniel to overcome. Director John G. Avildsen’s (Rocky) keeps the film moving at a nice pace, telling a heartwarming story of a young underdog who overcomes the obstacles in front of him.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

This appears to be the same 4K master used for the previous two releases of the film on UHD, but not the same disc from the more recent 3-movie boxed set. The 2160p HEVC encode on this disc includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range, and the movie itself takes up 74.4 Gb. The previous release from the boxed set was 82.8 Gb, however several language tracks were dropped for this release, so that may account somewhat for the smaller file size on this current release.

Otherwise, from a visual perspective, I cannot tell the difference between the two releases. Film grain is noticeable but organic, never really becoming distracting, although the opening title montage of Daniel and his mother driving cross country has the heaviest amount of grain. Colors are bold and vivid, but never appearing artificially boosted. Contrast is exceptional with deep blacks and shadow details, giving the night time scenes much more depth than the older Blu-ray release included in this set. Detail is increased rather dramatically (this is a true 4K transfer, as the movie was shot and completed on 35mm film and the transfer sourced from the original camera negative), so much so that the filament holding the fly that Miyagi is trying to catch with chopsticks is very noticeable.

Audio: 5/5

This is the same Dolby Atmos track found on the two prior UHD disc releases. As stated in my two previous reviews of this film:

The Karate Kid was originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo (with matrixed surrounds) and was upgraded to a 5.1 mix with its later DVD and Blu-ray releases. As with the majority of Sony’s 4K UHD Blu-ray releases, The Karate Kid has been given a new Dolby Atmos mix, as well. To be honest, I went into this mix with rather low expectations – this was a low budget studio production originally mixed for stereo surround playback on optical analog equipment. It may not be demo-worthy, but it sure did surprise me, providing a much wider front soundstage and providing the music with much more immersion. Bass response is much stronger, also, without becoming too boomy. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout. The previous 5.1 and 2.0 mixes have also been included here in DTS-HD MA, although many foreign language options have been dropped on this release (only French DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 are included this time out), likely for space limitations in order to include two new exclusive special features.

Special Features: 4.5/5

The UHD disc gets a few new special features, but like the previous release, the Cobra Kai trailer has been omitted. Don’t be thrown off by the ragged appearance of both the slipcover and cover insert, as this was intentional to give the package a “retro VHS packaging” look for this release.

UHD Disc
**NEW** Audio Commentary: Unfortunately, this is not the filmmaker’s commentary that featured director John G. Avilden, but a newly recorded commentary hosted by the creators of the Cobra Kai spinoff TV series Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. The three discuss how much they love this film and how they strived to integrate as many aspects of the film into their spinoff series.

**NEW** Deleted Scenes Dailies (1080p; 30:28): Rough takes from five deleted scenes – Conversation with  Mom, Karate Waiver, A Temporary Truce, Mom is Impressed and Kreese Reaction.

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 3:17): Four scenes are included – Accidents Happen, Watch Where You Sit, Disqualified, and Fight.

Remembering “The Karate Kid” with Ralph Macchio, Billy Zabka & Martin Kove (2160p; 10:22): The Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio, Billy Zabka (Johnny), and Martin Kove (Sensei Kreese) each reminisce about the making of this classic film.

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:18)

Blu-ray Disc
This is the same disc included in the 2010 Blu-ray release.

Blu-Pop: Watch the movie with pop-up trivia, interviews, and more. Requires secondary audio to be turned on in your player’s settings.

Director, Writer, and Cast Commentary: Director John G. Avildsen, writer Robert Mark Kamen, and actors Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita have a lively discussion on the making of the film.

The Way of the Karate Kid, Part 1 (480i; 24:00)

The Way of the Karate Kid, Part 2 (480i; 21:25)

Beyond the Form (480i; 13:03)

East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook (480i; 8:17)

Life of Bonsai (480i; 10:00)

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code has been included to redeem a 4K digital copy of the film. Audio and video formats and resolutions may vary from retailer to retailer.

Overall: 4.5/5

Although it is not indicated anywhere on the packaging, this is apparently a 40th Anniversary release of The Karate Kid in retro VHS style packaging (standard UHD keepcase and slipcover, but with simulated wear and tear in the artwork). The new commentary is interesting, as are the deleted scene dailies, but I am not sure that is enough to convince someone to double or triple dip on this title. If you are looking to upgrade from DVD or Blu-ray or have never purchased this title previously, then this is the version you would probably want to purchase.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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