Apr. 3 | Fr. Dan's Film Recommendation
In last week’s Sunday paper insert, Parade Magazine suggested 14 of the best 80s movies to watch while we are home staying safe.
As a child of the 80s, I remember watching many of these great movies both at home on our brand new VCR, and at school, when the teacher needed an easy day (How are all you parents holding up homeschooling your kids?). Many of the movies on the list I was probably was a little too young to watch or get the full brilliance of them. Re-watching many of them during this time has given me a great reminder of what life was like, in a simpler, more innocent time, at least in my mind. The ones on the list I remember watching back then remain some of my favorites today. They are - Footloose, Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and finally…The Karate Kid (1984).
Being a child of the 80s, I have a soft spot for this movie. As predictable as the plot is, it’s a great movie! What makes it so great are the performances of the two main characters. First is Ralph Macchio, as Daniel, a teenager that is bullied at his new school, but the movie belongs to Pat Morita, as Mr. Miyagi, the old apartment maintenance man that befriends Macchio’s Daniel. Mr. Miyagi becomes Daniel’s reluctant karate teacher, but they develop such a great friendship that it makes the movie all the more enjoyable.
Many people will focus on the coming of age aspect of this movie, but I think the most overlooked roll this movie played in culture was in helping to alleviate and dispel many of the stereotypes a very Asian-phobic America had after World War II, the Korean War, and the War in Vietnam. Something we might want to think about during this time of Covid-19 and China.
The movie makes a point of showing Mr. Miyagi in a US army uniform and as an American war hero. It also makes reference to the Japanese-American detention camp his family was sent to (a horribly dark part of American history). While in the detention camp Mr. Miyagi’s pregnant wife and his unborn son ultimately die during childbirth.
Taking into light of the loss of his son, and taking the fact that Daniel has no father we know of, the name Mr. Miyagi calls him in the movie, Daniel-san, sounds a lot like “Daniel-Son,” helps to demonstrate a father/son bond that is often overlooked.
Many of the conversations between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are about Mr. Miyagi’s late father in Okinawa, Japan. Because Mr. Miyagi has acquired all his Karate knowledge from his late father and wants to share it with Daniel, we see Daniel substitutes for Mr. Miyagi‘s son that he never had, and Mr. Miyagi substitutes for the father Daniel doesn’t have.
The great thing this movie shows is that Mr. Miyagi needs Daniel-san as much as Daniel needed Mr. Miyagi. It is this touching relationship that makes the movie. All the rest of it is your standard Rocky film stuff. What Rocky and The Karate Kid have in common is in both the characters are people we care for, and the climactic scenes works marvelously.
I still get goosebumps. Sweep the leg Johnny…sand the deck…paint the fence…wax on, wax off…