June 11, 2010
THE KARATE KID 2010
Last year when I first heard they were remaking The Karate Kid, aka the single greatest film of the 80's, I was ready to hit the streets with picket signs, spray paint, riot gear, and was fully equipped with a mouth full of venom and a heart full of anarchy. I was sick to my stomach the entire day and made sinister plans with my friend Mike to boycott the film upon its release. A few months later I was talking to my six-year-old nephew Jacob who loves the original 1984 version easily as much as I did at his age, and maybe even more. Before I could cloud his mind with The Karate Kid (2010) hate propaganda he told me how excited he was for the new remake. Just before I rabbit-punched him in the back of his six-year-old head for his treasonous remarks, I had a moment of clarity and realized that this was his chance to have the same experience that I did as a child his age. It's simply just a new Karate Kid for a new generation. Who cares that it's Will Smith's son and not old balls Ralph Macchio. Who cares that it's probably a second-rate knockoff that could be considered blaspheme?! All things aside, Mike and I are taking our little nephews to see it tonight, complete in full karate gees and all. They are as geeked-up for it as I'm sure I would be if I were their age. Despite my fears that I may have the urge to stand up mid-movie and start punching and crane kicking random men, women, and especially children, I think I'll be able to suppress the urge long enough to enjoy the movie if only through my nephews' eyes.
So with the opening of The Karate Kid today I also wanted to pay my respects to the past. I dug up an old Essay from 2004 I wrote for a college English course to post. The assigned topic was "life changing moments." Now, as you read this, please don't let the small, simple fact that I just so happened to get an A on the paper effect your opinion of the material in the slightest.
Life Changing Moments: The Karate Kid
In this life, I know of only three things to be absolutely true: one, Germans love David Hasselhoff; two, there is a god and I am not him; and three, the film The Karate Kid was the greatest addition to the world of the last 300 years. The creation of The Karate Kid surpasses all modern creations and discoveries such as the wheel, fire, Gutenberg's printing press, electricity, indoor plumbing, opium and modern medicine, mathematics, the combustible engine, cosmetic surgery and the personal computer.
During the fall of 1985, I was a five-year-old boy and at this point in my lie, things could not have been much better or easier. My mother made all my meals, I wore short, John Stockton-like shorts, I rarely bathed, and when I did, it was usually with my sister, brother or both. I had the nicest hair in the entire neighborhood. My honey blond hair swept across my little forehead, while gently feathering over the tips of my ears like an old, used, sun-bleached broom before abruptly dropping down my neck in a cascade of permed curls. To this day that hair still remains the greatest mullet in the history of my family tree. Oh yes, it was 80's and though it has been nearly two decades and my hair has since darkened and changed, I can still remember the night that changed my life.
The night air was made up of the sweet fragrance of burnt popcorn with a slight hint of my babysitter's Camel cigarettes. This dark-haired , seventeen-year-old, wearing all black with a chrome cross draping over her Motley Cru concert t-shirt is the inspired angel that introduced my perm-headed older brother Josh and I to this life changing film. As my babysitter entered the VHS tape into the top loading, circa 70's VCR and pressed play, I felt something within me stir. To this day, if I close my eyes tight enough, I can still hear the the opening music, and see the camera focus on a skinny, weak, awkward looking, noodle-armed teenager. For some reason I felt a strong relation that I would not understand until much later on in my life.
During the course of the next one-hundred and twenty-six minutes, I witnessed a collage of the greatest dialogue, scenes, and characters ever penned or witnessed on film. It was accompanied by the most influential score of music and soundtrack surpassing even that of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, as well as the Rocky films all put together. As I watched Daniel LaRusso's every move and every interaction scene by scene, though I was only five and had never really left the house, let alone met a beautiful blond cheerleader named Ali, played soccer, or had ever been physically assaulted and publicly humiliated by the leader of the fiercest karate gang ever assembled since the beginning of man, while attending my first beach party... it was as if I had.
Together, Daniel and I went through mass amounts of obstacles and triumphs: from getting kicked out of the high school soccer tryouts and only muttering, "This school sucks man! Sucks!" to having an elderly, balding, single, Asian handy man named Mr. Miyagi as our only friend. He taught us the art of karate by having us wax his cars, sand his floors, and paint his fence and house. We attempted to understand Miyagi's broken English together, phrases such as "in Okinawa, belt mean, no need rope to hold up pants," and "karate here and here, karate never here." Or when asked if he called someone a liar he replied "no call no one nothing." Despite his broken English and unorthodox style of training we grew a deep love for Mr. Miyagi, which at times seemed anything but platonic.
During this time, I was so engulfed in the modern, timeless classic that I hardly even noticed my babysitter going in and out of the room for smoke breaks. I barely even noticed my brother in his earliest stages of training to be the next Karate Kid practicing kicks inches away from my head. Looking back, the only part of the movie where an observer would have noticed any moment from me probably would have been at the end of the film during the scenes of the All-Valley Under Eighteen Karate Tournament. As the Joe Esposito song "You're The Best Around" started playing in the background of the film I immediately jumped into the air which may or may not have included a double back flip. I began flailing my limbs in a vast array of chops and kicks into the night like a trained weapon of mass destruction. It is also possible that I may have very well been on a Cookie Crisp induced sugar high. The fate of the 80's, and skinny punks everywhere rested upon Daniel and I.
From that day on, I lived life differently. When the first day at a new school came, I was not the slightest bit nervous because I had already been "there" before with Daniel. When I met first met my cute, blond haired, cheerleader girlfriend, again not a problem since I had already lived through that situation before with Daniel. When I turned sixteen and received my drivers licence and had to think of where to take my blond cheerleader on our first date, it was an easy decision since metaphorically, I already had success taking Ali (with an i) golfing with Daniel. Furthermore, my first kiss was the same story, along with things like practicing my balance on the bow of a canoe rowed by an elderly, Asian, handy man, along with my first run-in with a leader of a infamous karate gang backed by an evil Sensei. On all these common, everyday situation I had been there, and done that.
Therefore thanks to The Karate Kid I never had to struggle like most teenagers do, with confidence, talking to girls, cheerleaders, how to have "balance", or what song to listen to while riding my bike to the first day of school. I think most importantly I never had to struggle learning how to manage my relationship with a balding, Asian repairman like all other teenagers have to do at some point.
Here are My teachers remarks written at the bottom of the paper:
Very Clever! I enjoyed your essay a lot! I would like a copy of your essay to put in my "winners" category, if you wouldn't mind...? :)
For your enjoyment I have included a few Karate Kid related pictures of my wife and I taken over the years. They are from things like, halloween, summer movies in the park, our honeymoon etc. All were taken from a camera phone so I apologize for their crudity. Anyway, Enjoy!