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"Wax on, wax off!"
Mr. Miyagi

A series of five films beginning in 1984. Following a similar pattern to the first Rocky movie (and featuring the same director) it focused on a student-master relationship between Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi, whose name came to be slang for a type of Retired Badass. The first three films starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel and Pat Morita as Miyagi. Hilary Swank played a new "Karate Kid" in the fourth movie.

The Karate Kid: (1984) The first film introduced Daniel Larusso, a teenager whose father had passed away (although the viewers wouldn't learn this until the second movie) and he just moved with his Mom from New Jersey to Reseda, California. Daniel has a little bit of a temper, but is overall a good kid. He doesn't fare well making new friends, upon trying to get close to a girl he likes, Ali, he gets into a fight with her ex-boyfriend Johnny. Johnny happens to be the prize student of the Cobra-Kai Karate Dojo, whose sensei John Kreese encourages such behavior. After they fight, which ends with Daniel losing badly, Johnny leads his gang into tormenting Daniel whenever possible.

It finally leads into a serious fight with the gang chasing Daniel down and beating him up just outside his apartment complex. Coming to his rescue is the elderly Asian handyman, Mr. Miyagi. Despite his age, Miyagi protects Daniel and defeats the Cobra-Kai gang with ease. Upon seeing Miyagi's skill, Daniel requests to be trained. After seeing that appealing to Kreese won't work, Miyagi agrees to train him but arranges a deal that the Cobra-Kai will stop bothering Daniel if he enters an upcoming tournament.

Daniel is hesitant about the tournament, but willing to learn karate at the least to defend himself. The first few days Miyagi had Daniel do several chores: paint the fence, sand the decks and wax the car. Daniel endures it patiently, but eventually blows up at Miyagi for using him as a slave instead as a student. Miyagi then demonstrates what Wax On, Wax Off really means. Daniel is stunned, then begins to understand that Miyagi wasn't trying to teach him how to fight, but how to apply martial arts to his life.[1]

The first movie is the most loved of the film series, and Pat Morita earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi. The Nostalgia Filter helps a lot, as the film is not ashamed to be set in the 80's. Though given that it was also filmed in the 80s, this probably explains why. The main theme of this film is balance and self-respect, that martial arts should be used in discipline and not for aggression.

The Karate Kid, Part Two: (1986) Six months after the first film, Daniel has broken up with Ali and is being set up to move in with Mr. Miyagi as his mom moves up north. Miyagi receives a notice that his father is gravelly ill and he decides to return to his home village in Okinawa. Daniel wants to support his friend and father-figure and goes with him, also hoping to learn more about Miyagi's history.

At the village many things have changed, and Daniel learns of an old feud between Miyagi and his old friend Sato that has not passed with time. (Miyagi left Okinawa so he would not have to fight to the death) Daniel also begins a troublesome relationship with Sato's nephew Chozen, who is even more aggressive. Miyagi's father dies but that did not subside Sato's anger. Along the way, Daniel also begins a new romance with a local girl, Kumiko.

The second movie was a well respected sequel, much of it having to do with the change of scenery and culture. A major theme of this film is about mercy and pacifism. Daniel learns about what 'life or death' combat is about and also trades blows with Chozen progressively throughout the film.

The Karate Kid, Part Three: (1989) One year since the first film, John Kreese is running into financial trouble after his humiliation in the first film and the beginning of the second. He orchestrates a plan with an old war buddy of his to bring the Cobra-Kai Dojo back by targeting both Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. They blackmail Daniel into returning to the same tournament so he could be humiliated by a new unstoppable student.

The third film was felt by many to be a severe case of Sequelitis, as the themes of fighting for self-respect and for your life in the previous films were dropped for a more standard underdog story and villain's plot. Also, Daniel doesn't seem to get any better, even after his "fight to the death" from the previous movie; he is just as inexperienced as in the first film.

The Next Karate Kid: (1994) Five years after the last movie, Mr. Miyagi and Daniel have parted ways and the venerable old man found a new student to help, Julie Pierce. She is struggling with a para-military group that almost runs her high school, with the leader Dugan (played by Michael Ironside) just as ruthless as Kreese from the earlier films. This time he takes her to a local monastery to learn about peace of mind.

This film was poorly received and made even less then the last film, which essentially killed the franchise.[2]

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The Karate Kid: A Continuity Reboot of the series that premiered in June 2010, borrowing elements of the first one but set in Beijing, China. Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) plays the lead role of Andre "Dre" Parker and Jackie Chan is the old mentor, Mr. Han. There is almost no karate in this film; the lead character trains in kung fu instead.

Many people have noticed that DC Comics is credited in the films, but contrary to popular belief, the films are not directly based on a comic book. Columbia Pictures needed permission from DC to use the title "the Karate Kid" because the name was already in use for a character in DC's Legion of Super-Heroes comic; the films draw no inspiration from the character.

The movies also inspired a somewhat forgettable Animated Series involving Daniel and Mr. Miyagi traveling the world in pursuit of a magical healing shrine.

Cobra Kai: Set 34 years after the original film, this YouTube Originals series has Johnny as the lead character. After his loss to Daniel at the tournament and a royal chewing out by his sensei, his personal and professional lives go into a downward spiral. When he lays out a Gang of Bullies harassing another youth, he finds himself with a renewed sense of purpose. He reopens his old dojo, which triggers a series of bad memories for the now-Happily Married auto dealer Daniel (whose own sensei Miyagi had since died). Both are dealing with their respective demons in the only way they ever learned: martial arts.

Now has a character sheet.

The original film series has examples of:

  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Ali.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Bobby begs Daniel's forgiveness after kicking his knee.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Kreese in the first; Silver in the third. Gets more literal in the latest film where he actually uses kung fu.
  • Artistic License Martial Arts:
    • The actual crane kick is an almost physically impossible move that few people alive can successfully perform. (It's a twirling kick in which you jump, kick, and land all on the same leg.) As no one working on the film could do it--even the martial arts expert who helped choreograph the fight scenes--they just had Ralph Maccio do a weird, inexplicable flamingo pose into a more standard sort of front kick. (Why couldn't they have used a special effect?) No bother, because in Real Life there is actually no move in any martial art for which there is no defense when it is performed well. (See below.)
    • In a real martial arts tournament, someone with a fractured leg would not be allowed to continue even if they insisted -- the risk of becoming permanently disabled (not to mention a lawsuit) is too high. Also, Johnny's behavior (and his fellow students' taunts) in the final fight makes it blatantly obvious that his teacher is instructing them to deliberately injure other participants. In Real Life the referee would stop the fight and not only disqualify Johnny, but probably have the entire dojo permanently barred from future competitions.
  • Asian Gal with White Guy: Daniel and Kumiko, though when the other option is Chozen...
  • Asskicking Pose: The Crane Technique.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The crane stance, which in Real Life could be defeated with a good shove to the chest.
    • In the sequel, Chozen allows him to follow through, but simply catches his foot and gives him an elbow to the back (a move reminiscent of Johnny's elbow to Daniel's knee in the first movie).
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: After time, Daniel was able to point out the flaws in others techniques and able to improve upon them.
  • Badass Pacifist: Mr. Miyagi hates fighting, but is VERY competent when the situation calls for it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Mr. Miyagi is calm and peaceful, but that doesn't mean he's lacking in fighting skill.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Miyagi gets to do this at least Once per Movie.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Ali, Kumiko, and Jessica, respectively. Daniel obviously isn't picky when it comes to hair color.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Lampshaded in the director's commentary:

  "How come they're all blond?"

    • Probably to contrast dark haired Daniel.
  • Breakout Villain: John Kreese appeared in only three scenes in the original film but was so memorably over-the-top that he was present in the next two sequels.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The poster of Sato breaking a log. Miyagi breaks a log of similar size (that Sato was seen trying unsuccessfully to break over and over again) in one blow to save Sato from being pinned under it during the hurricane.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Used as a finishing move for each of the films, standing on one leg, using a child's drum, doing katas and the praying mantis jump kick.
    • The second film opens with Miyagi teaching Daniel about a breathing technique to focus the mind and body to pound in nails in one hit. Mid-way through the movie Daniel is challenged to break the sheets of ice and Miyagi reminds him of the technique.
    • So Last Season: The reason why he needs the drum technique is illustrated when Chozen easily defeats the Crane.
    • In the third film, Daniel must rappel down a cliff to retrieve a valuable bonsai tree. Good thing his new girlfriend's hobby is mountain climbing.
  • Continuity Nod: Miyagi makes several passing references to "Daniel-san" in The Next Karate Kid, to the point of muttering that it was rather "easier to live with boys" when he inadvertently takes a peek of Julie in her underwear when he walks into her room.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kreese's philosophy reads like this on paper; in actual effect, it's... rather different. He's effectively teaching the kids to be thugs.
  • Cool Car: Miyagi has several.
  • Cool Old Guy: Take a guess...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Hi again, Terry from part III! Oh, and bonus: his company is called Dyna-Tox Industries. Yes, really. Their PR team must cry themselves to sleep every night!
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Joe Esposito's "You're The Best" in the first movie, and Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love" in the second.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Pretty much every time Mr. Miyagi gets his hands dirty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Miyagi in the first film especially
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Most kids who bully Daniel quickly move to attempted murder once he tries to defend himself. Inverted in part 3, where Barnes starts entirely too much shit throughout the movie, but gets off with nothing more than a loss by a single point. Terry and Kreese get no comeuppance at all.
  • Fight Magnet: For a guy who doesn't want to fight, Mr. Miyagi beats up a lot of people.
  • Finish Him!: Kreese's instructions to the Cobra Kai.
  • Five-Bad Band: The five Cobra Kai who play major roles in the first movie and the beginning of the second. Kreese is the Big Bad, Johnny is The Dragon, Tommy is a smartass version of the Evil Genius, Dutch is The Brute, and Bobby, the non-conformist and least vicious in the group, is the Dark Chick.
  • For the Evulz: It may not be why Terry first harasses Daniel, but it's certainly why he enjoys it.
    • The whole series features some of the most nonsensical villains you'll ever see. Good luck coming up with any motivation by the time you get to Dugan from Next.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: A ballroom filled with refined, upper-crust partygoers all stop dancing and put down their canapes just to laugh at Daniel-San after he bumps into a waiter and gets bolognese sauce all over his outfit. They're probably mocking the poor waiter too, but it doesn't come across as strongly.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: "Sweep the leg."
    • And in the reboot: "I don't want him beaten; I want him broken" and "Break his leg."
  • Gang of Bullies: The Cobras
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Johnny rolling a joint in the bathroom.
  • Graceful Loser: Johnny, after Daniel wins the tournament. Kreese... Not so much.
  • Groin Attack: Mr. Miyagi, believe it or not. It was a five on one battle...that soon became a four on one.
    • Daniel delivers one to Chozen at the sock hop dance.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: To get to the level of competition that the Cobra Kai students are at requires years of training and physical conditioning. Daniel goes through a Training Montage of a few weeks and easily beats them.
  • Healing Hands: Mr. Miyagi knows a few Pressure Point techniques. Mr. Han in the reboot uses similar techniques.
  • Heel Face Turn: Sato.
  • I Have No Son: Sato to Chozen after Chozen refuses to help Daniel rescue a girl in the hurricane. "Now, to you, I am dead."
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Daniel and Mr. Miyagi
  • Japanese Honorifics: Miyagi always appends -san to Daniel's name. A minor case of Did Not Do the Research, as -kun would be more appropriate to their relationship.
  • Jerkass: The Cobra Kai.
  • Kids Are Cruel: In the first film, besides Daniel being bullied by the Cobras, some of the kids ridicule him after being beaten up by Johnny.
    • Ali's girlfriends rather inexplicably despise Daniel from the get-go.
    • The remake is even worse with this.
  • Kung Fu Kid
  • Literal Minded

 Daniel: (upon being instructed on Wax On, Wax Off) Where did all these cars come from?

Miyagi: Detroit.

  • Magical Asian: Mr. Miyagi.
  • Martial Pacifist: Miyagi.
  • Martial Medic: Mr. Miyagi.
  • MST: The commentary for the DVD collection invokes this, with the writer, the director, and even Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita themselves snarking over the film.
  • Motive Decay: Terry in Part III does what he does out of friendship and loyalty to his friend, John. The opening scenes of the movie really do a good job of driving this home. And yet, he's the one who comes up with the idea of completely destroying Danny and Miyagi, and his motivation ends up devolving completely into this.
  • Neutral Female: Kumiko attempts to subvert it by trying to pull Chozen away from Daniel during their last fight. It doesn't work, but the effort is appreciated.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Daniel's initial fight with Johnny, and even more the Cobra Kai gang-beating he receives in the school dance scene.
  • Not My Driver: In the second movie, a car is waiting for Mr. Miyagi and Daniel when they arrive in Okinawa. When Miyagi asks the driver why they're heading away from the village where he wants to go, the driver and his friend reply "Some things have changed since you were last here, Miyagi-san..." "...and some things have not, eh?" Mr. Miyagi and Daniel soon learn what this means when they reach their real destination: a warehouse where Mr. Sato and his nephew Chozen confront them.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mr. Miyagi only appears ignorant and senile.
  • Obviously Evil: Terry in the third movie. They have multiple scenes entirely dedicated to piling on gratuitous For the Evulz moments for the guy. He's an obnoxious rich guy who dumps toxic waste wherever he can get away with it, bribes judges, makes sure to hire, not the best karate champion but specifically "Karate's Bad Boy" and is in touch with local "bad boys" to hook him up with his mooks. Oh, and he wants to destroy the lives of a kid and an elderly man because they inadvertently humiliated his friend Kreese when Kreese tried to destroy their lives.
  • Old Master: Miyagi.
  • The Only Way They Will Learn: Daniel's being made to perform menial tasks for Mr. Miyagi to build the strength and muscle memory necessary for effective blocks. For Julie, he sets up his teaching of the waltz as a typical karate instruction.
  • Opposed Mentors: The second Karate Kid movie has the main character pick up an Evil Mentor after an argument with Miyagi.
  • Ordered to Cheat: "Sweep the Leg" is the former Trope Namers (though the "out of commission" order fits much better).
  • Parental Substitute: Miyagi and Daniel form a very close father/son dynamic throughout the films.
  • Police Are Useless: Part of the plot of the third movie.
  • Retired Badass: Mr. Miyagi, who'd earned medals in World War II, including the Medal of Honor.
    • Some Truth in Television and Fridge Brilliance there, given Miyagi is apparently a Japanese national. Those Japanese who signed up to fight with the US armed forces during World War II were put together in one unit. That unit earned more medals and Medals of Honor per head than any other in any branch of service.
      • Even more of both in a sad way, as Miyagi's pregnant wife was taken to a Japanese interment camp and died there in childbirth, as did the son she gave birth to. Miyagi's drunken re-reading of the telegram informing him of this leads to a small Heroic BSOD in the first movie.
  • Running Gag: Reminding people that it's pronounced Mi-ya-gi, not Mi-ya-ji.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Kreese destroys Johnny's trophy, prompting Miyagi to give him a little lesson.
  • The So-Called Coward: The main plot of Part 2 when Sato, who dismissed Miyagi as a coward for years, finally sees him and Daniel in action during a typhoon and realizes to his astonishment at how powerful and fearless they really are when necessary. As a result, he insists on helping them and makes amends the next morning.
  • So Last Season: The Crane Technique to the Drum Technique.
  • Taught By Experience: Miyagi was formally trained by his father, but had little knowledge on how tournaments work. He didn't even know much about the belt system.

 Daniel: I thought you said you've been in plenty of fights?

Miyagi: Hai, for life, not for points.

  • Took a Level In Badass: Daniel.
  • Training Montage: "You're the Best (Around)" (not by Survivor, of "Eye of the Tiger" fame, but by Joe "Bean" Esposito) played during the tournament montage. Not exactly a training montage, but Daniel learned how good he had gotten from Miyagi's training. It makes sense, given that the first three movies were directed by John G. Avildsen, who also directed Rocky.
    • Not to mention that, while performed by Esposito, the song is written by Bill Conti, who composed "Gonna Fly Now" for Rocky.
  • Trickster Mentor: Mr. Miyagi.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Bobby who was always the most laid back of the Cobra Kais has a minor one after Kreese forces him to injure Daniel's knee and practically breaks down in tears apologizing.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Trope Namer (also inverted in the third movie when Mr. Miyagi teaches Jessica a new "kata": the waltz).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Er, where did that Freddy kid go in the first film? He seemed set up to become a good friend of Daniel's but he just...disappeared.
    • His other friends peer pressure him into ditching Daniel in the football practice scene after the beach fight. He can however briefly be seen watching the tournament right at the end and is presumably part of the crowd that lifts Daniel onto their shoulders after he wins.
  • When You Snatch the Pebble: Subverted. Daniel can catch a fly with chopsticks on his first go, even Miyagi can't. Beginner's Luck.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: At the beginning of Part II, Miyagi spared Kreese's life after squashing him in an act of self-defense.

Daniel: You could have killed him, couldn't you?

Mr. Miyagi: Hai.

Daniel: Well, why didn't you?
Mr. Miyagi: Because Daniel, for man with no forgiveness in heart, life worse punishment than death.
  • The Worf Effect: Daniel suffers this in both the sequels.
  • World of Cardboard Speech: Daniel's plea to Miyagi to perform the pressure point healing technique on his leg, letting his master know that he fully understands the meaning of balance.
  • World War II: Miyagi served in one of the US Army's nisei regiments in Europe during WWII, and received the Distinguished Service Cross. On the other side of the coin, his wife and son died in childbirth in one of the internment camps.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Yukie and her niece Kumiko
  • You No Take Candle: Mr. Miyagi's stereotyped broken English.
    • Possibly inverted by the fight announcer from the first film, who somehow got a job MCing a karate tournament without knowing how Japanese syllables are pronounced ("Me-yah-jee-doh Karate").

The 2010 remake has examples of:

  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Han gives Dre a white jacket at the end of his training.
  • Almighty Janitor: Jackie Chan plays a literal janitor who is also a master in the ancient art of being Jackie Chan.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Cheng is a sadistic little creep. The rest of the Fighting Dragons too, especially the teacher, Li.
  • Artifact Title: Being set in China, the film uses Kung Fu rather than Karate.
  • Backed by Beijing: The remake has gratuitous shots of notable landmarks in China which have probably needed to be directly authorized by some high Chinese officials. In return, China is depicted as a really nice land, mix of ancient civilization, modernity, and natural beauty. Not to forget a puppet play.
  • Badass Adorable: Dre becomes this as the story progresses.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Viewers who knew mandarin would have pegged Meiying's father as a potential source of conflict early on once they heard Cheng and Meiying's first conversation (which didn't show up in the subs).
  • Black Best Friend: Inversion in that as soon as Dre moves to China a local blonde starts being his friend but then disappears after a third of the way into the film.
  • Brick Joke: On Dre's first day of his new school, he's wearing the school uniform. The principal told both him and his mother that they only wear on uniform day. Later on, it's the school field trip and it's also uniform day. Guess who's not wearing the uniform...
    • Also later he meets up with Meiying "look uniform on uniform day."
  • Buffy-Speak: "Fiery cup thing."
  • Chekhov's Skill: Snake charming, which Dre uses to psyche Cheng into losing control.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The tournament. Dre is in white and Cheng and his team are in black and red. The other teams, which pretty much serve as cannon fodder, are dressed in green, purple, and blue.
  • Comforting Comforter: A rather sweet scene when Dre falls asleep onto Mr Han's lap and a hesitating Mr Han places a hand on his shoulder.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: The scene involving the hot water switch.
  • Contrived Clumsiness: Cheng knocks over Dre's lunch tray and then says "Sorry!"
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The first fight between Cheng and Dre does not go well for Dre at all.
  • Death Glare: Cheng has a scary one for a little kid.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Cheng is the one who gives Dre the winning trophy. Then, him and the other boys who had bullied and fought with Dre also pay their respects to Mr. Han. Master Li is also forced to suck it up and applaud Mr. Han's victory.
  • Determinator: Dre first has his leg ruined, and gets some magic Kung-Fu healing. After that it's broken and he finishes the match on one leg. We even see him hopping around after the post-win crowd pan.
  • Disappeared Dad: The fact that Dre's father had died was made known at the beginning of the movie.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Everybody in this film seems to call all types of martial arts featured "Kung Fu", despite the fact that the Chinese would more likely use the term "Wushu".
  • Dragons Up the Yin-Yang: As part of Dre's training, Mr. Han takes him up a tall mountain to the Dragon Well, where drinking from it purportedly make one invincible. The well is a shallow fountain with a yin-yang symbol in the center.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: One of Cheng's cronies tells him to stop hurting Dre, after he has beaten him up significantly.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: subtly done with Li in two scenes. First, when an injured Dre returns to the tournament, the tournament's spectators are impressed, but Li only mockingly applauds, suggesting that he considers Dre's slim chances of actually winning rather than his courage and fighting spirit. Later, when his own students show their respect to Mr. Han by bowing, he is shocked rather than angry. Which means that he fails to understand why young students would respect a successful, yet kind teacher.
  • Eye Cam: When Cheng beats Dre up for the second time, we see that Dre is so badly hurt that his vision is impaired.
  • Finish Him!: Master Li screams this at Cheng during the final battle against Dre.
  • Fish Out of Water: Dre moves from Detroit to Beijing, China. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language/Asian Speekee Engrish: Justified, as Dre is horrible at Chinese and tries to learn bits and pieces. The Chinese people around him either speak English with a heavy accent or don't speak it at all.
  • Idiot Ball: Dre at one point throws a bucket of dirty water on Cheng to get revenge, and gets his ass brutally kicked.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Eventually.
    • Heartwarming Moments: When Dre tells Han he is his best friend and Han gives him a shirt as a present.
  • Kick the Dog: Master Li is already known to be a Jerkass, with the way he teaches his students to show no mercy to their enemies. But he steps into this territory when he slaps one of his students who didn't finish his opponent completely.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Master Li puts heavy emphasis that his students should never show mercy to their enemies, even encouraging his students to attack them while they are defeated.
  • Kung Fu Kid
  • Love Triangle: A bit of a case with Dre and Cheng who both have a crush on Mei Ying, who chooses Dre.
  • Magic Feather: They don't say it, but the Dragon Well that gives awesome kung-fu powers was probably this.
    • This could be more of a subversion as the characters knew full well it was simply folklore and never actually believed that the well would grant any powers.
  • Martial Medic
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Han. "Han" (汉), while an actual (but very rare) last name, is also the ethnicity that makes up the majority of China, so it's sort of like calling him "Mr. Chinese Man".
  • Mighty Whitey: Despite obviously not being white, Dre goes to China and learns kung fu better than the native Chinese kung fu fighters. Not much of an issue, seeing as there is nothing in real life to prevent one of any nationality becoming a talented martial artist.
    • Somewhat averted in that Dre doesn't become better at Kung Fu than the natives, he simply learns a truer form of the art from Han than the perversion Li teaches Dre's adversaries.
    • Plus it's more easily explained by Underdogs Never Lose.
  • Mythology Gag: There's scene where Mr. Han sees a fly and, after chasing it around with his chopsticks, whips out a flyswatter, smashes the fly against the wall, picks the fly off with his chopsticks, and continues eating with the chopsticks.
    • The trailer that featured this scene had "You're The Best Around" playing in the background.
    • Also, The Flying Dragons use a variation of "No Mercy" for their motto.
    • Mr. Han waxing his car.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The movie is called "The Karate Kid," even though no karate appears in the movie.
    • They threw in a line about Dre knowing "a little Karate" to justify the Artifact Title, and the term is used as a derisive nickname a few times.
    • There are a couple of scenes of Dre trying in earnest to use Karate (albeit trying to learn from an infomercial or some such thing.) The results are less than indicative of the title.
    • And Dre's mother mistakes Kung Fu for Karate.
    • Some have claimed that the original title was "The Kung-Fu Kid" (with many of the film crew using that name during production), but the name was changed due to its name recognition and nostalgia factor.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The contestant with the So Bad It's Good hair.
  • Ordered to Cheat: Master Li orders two of the Flying Dragons to break Dre's leg.
  • Overprotective Dad: Mei Ying's father disapproved of his daughter's friendship with Dre because he saw him as a bad influence to his daughter, causing her to be late for her recital and forbade her from spending time with him.
    • However, he turns out to be much more reasonable than the stereotypical version. When Dre respectfully approaches him and apologizes (in phonetic Chinese), he reconsiders and is later seen actively cheering for Dre.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr Han acts like one of these and a friend to Dre. In return, Dre reminds Mr Han of his deceased son.
  • Parting Words Regret: Mr. Han towards his family.
  • Pet the Dog: a non-villainous example with Mr. Han (who acts like a bit of a jerk when he is first introduced). During the tournament, when Dre knocks one of the Dragons down, it is Mr. Han who helps him up. This little gesture is in sharp contrast with Li's behaviour, who considers showing the opponent kindness a sign of weakness, and even mistreats his students.
  • Recycled Title: Because "The Kung-Fu Kid" would have sounded silly.
    • Ironically, this, according to the Other Wiki, is exactly what the film is actually called overseas!
    • Not quite. In China, it's called "功夫梦" ("The Kung Fu Dream"); in Japan, and South Korea, it's called "Best Kid" (the same title that was used for the original movie in those countries), and "The Karate Kid" everywhere else.
  • Running Gag: Possibly Dre's expression when he hangs up his coat for his mom. Mr. Han makes a point of making sure that "attitude" is there during Dre's "jacket-on, jacket-off" training and it practically has a spotlight shone on it when it shows up in the tournament.
    • People touching the Parker's hair. At one point, Dre's mother is surrounded by little kids who are happily playing with her hair.
      • Absolutely Truth in Television. Foreigners with either important or distinctive hair in China have been mobbed by children wanting to touch it.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: This is Master Li's reaction when Dre decides to stay in the tournament with a leg injury.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Dre's mother.
  • Serious Business: This is a tournament for young pre-teen kids. And Master Li wants his students to break Dre's leg and defeat him completely.
  • Shout-Out: A black kid is bad at basketball and gets in trouble with a local gang of tough kids on the court? Must be genetic.
  • Sleep Cute: Dre, whether it may be in an airplane, a couch or a train.
  • Smug Snake: That smirk Cheng flashes while walking away in the cafeteria scene transcends cultural boundaries.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Dre.
  • Underdogs Never Lose
  • Values Dissonance: The Chinese tend to stay silent out of respect after a performance of any sort. So after Mei Ying's recital, they were opt to remain silent. However, Dre, who came from United States, cheered and clapped. This invoked anger from his crush's father.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Jacket on, jacket off, drop the jacket, pick up the jacket, jacket on... it also has the nice side effect of disciplining Dre for his attitude.
  • We Will Meet Again: Dre gets beaten up a few times. A truce is called, pending a tournament.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The blond kid, and first English speaking peer that Dre meets in China. He seems to be set up as a friend, a translator and a general supporter and help to Dre. But nope, after about a third of the way in we only see him in passing at the tournament. This is a Shout-Out to Freddy from the original film, who fades into the background after Daniel starts having run-ins with the bullies, but finally does re-appear in his cheering section.
    • A weird case of Truth in Television. When in a new/unfamiliar location, people of similar backgrounds (national, cultural, and occasionally even ethnic) tend to stick together, if only initially. This is what happened with Dre and the blonde kid - having seen that Dre is an American, the kid offers to help show Dre around the place, but quickly vanishes into the background as Dre figures things out and makes his own friends (and enemies).
      • Alternatively, the blonde kid could have just stopped hanging with Dre once he realized that Dre is going to get the crap beaten out of him, possibly on a regular basis.
    • There's also the subplot of Mei Ying practicing for an audition to be accepted to the Beijing Academy of Music. We see the audition, but never find out if she was accepted or not nor just what her instructor meant by "you know what this would mean for your family" since, judging by their home, they aren't exactly living in poverty.
      • Well, that "you know what this would mean for your family" talk was probably a matter of honor rather than money. Like when Dre qualified for the tournament finals (even if just because his opponent was disqualified) and was told he honored his family.
    • Actually, if you look closely, the blonde kid is sitting there watching the tournament with Dre's mom and Mei Ying. He just doesn't really say anything or do anything noteworthy.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Dre applauds one of Mei Ying's performances at a time when it is inappropriate to do so.


  1. And get some needed housework done as payment for training Daniel.
  2. Though it did get a shout-out when Hilary Swank won the first of her several Oscars.
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