Box art for The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid

A handyman/martial arts master agrees to teach a bullied boy karate and shows him that there is more to the martial art than fighting.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 12
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
3 out of 5

'80s classic is still fun for families with older tweens.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this classic '80s martial arts movie is still a fine pick for families with older tweens. The Karate Kid was re-made in 2010 with a younger perspective starring Jaden Smith. The PG rating of the original seems a little mild considering the number of swear words (including "s--t"), insults, and fights -- not to mention one scene of marijuana use. This is a standard new-kid-in-town flick, but it's also got soul thanks to the teacher-student relationship between wise Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and lonely teen Daniel (Ralph Macchio). Issues of class, race, (teen) romance, and even war are explored in this coming-of-age tale, where karate is a metaphor for life.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about whether Daniel is the stereotypical "new boy in town." How does he feel about starting over in a completely new place? How does Daniel's relationship with Mr. Miyagi change both of their lives?
  • This is at its root, an underdog story. What other movies fit into this genre? What are some similarities between the main characters' journeys? Who helps them? Who are their rivals?
  • How do class and financial status affect Daniel's place in the high-school hierarchy? Ali's country-club parents treat Daniel shabbily. Why? Kids: How do you treat people from different backgrounds or those who are new in town?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 12
    see all The Karate Kid reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Perhaps a touch on the corny side and undeniably broad, Kid is a ridiculously rewarding drama that puts pure sincerity to marvelous use, inflating a mild underdog story into an inspiring tale of education and developing friendship.

- Brian Orndorf,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rotten: It's primitive, predatory stuff.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Fresh: Predictable yet satisfying...

- David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews, Friday, June 25, 2010

Audience Reviews

5 stars

Over the last 20 years there have been a lot of great movies and there has also been some awful movies as well. But the 80s was a golden age that impressed the lives of millions. The Karate Kid was the spectacular diamond of that age. The movie starts off with Daniel Laruso (Ralph Macchio) and his mother Lucille (Randee Heller), moving from Newark to California. Then when they're moving in Daniel meets Freddy, who he thinks is his friend but later on when they're at a beach party and Daniel is beaten to death by Johnny (William Zabka) that is proven otherwise. At the beach Daniel also meets Johnny's ex-girlfriend Ali (Elisabeth Shue), a girl from Beverly Hills who Daniel falls for. Their backgrounds do clash a bit since he's from Rosita but they make it work. Daniel also befriends the handyman Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) who becomes his best friend and teaches him karate in order for him to become champion and accomplish his dreams. Without a doubt an 80s classic! :) :) :) :) :) :)

- movieguru12, Wednesday, August 31, 2011

4 stars

An 80s classic, and I love it! This is a fantastic teen sports drama romance movie with a great cast and a great script. I highly recommend it.

- ajv2688, Tuesday, January 18, 2011

4 stars

As a general rule, I'm not a big fan of 80s pop culture, but even then, I'll be damned if I can't find something to enjoy from it, and this is one of a few great examples. The story beats and cliches spawned by this movie didn't all originate with it, but still, this movie has an impact that still continues to this day. As formulaic as this is, it doesn't really feel derivate and run of the mill. That's a good thing, and a sign that Rocky wasn't just a fluke for director John G. Avildsen. This is a hard film to dislike. We (most of us) know what it's like to be the underdog who can't get a break from bullies. Also, Morita is just so wonderful and memorable in a role that I think he got at least an Oscar nomination for. He brings a great mixture of warmth, compassion, wisdom, and depth that leaves you feeling happy and awestruck. The villains are a bit hammy, but they're still pretty good. They take it serious here, which unfortunately was something that didn't carry over into the sequels. Even though this reeks of cliches, (when viewed many years after its release) it still feels fresh and new. I definitely recommend this, as it is one of those feel good films that is inspiring and unforgettable.

- cosmo313, Wednesday, November 10, 2010