It’s 35 years since we first met Mr Miyagi and his young student Daniel-san. In celebration, a new 35th anniversary edition of The Karate Kid has hit 4K Ultra HD. Ah, but is it karate do “yes” or karate do “no”?
The story: Young Daniel (Ralph Macchio) has to leave his friends in New Jersey for sunny California, as his mother has to move for work. He doesn’t exactly fit in well, and becomes the target of a group of karate school bullies. These Cobra Kai guys are merciless, and Daniel just wants to go home. However, when his building’s fixer-upperer Mr Miyagi takes him under his wing, Daniel gets to learn karate the honourable way – by working hard!
Another entertaining underdog story that’s riddled with great life advice, lines from The Karate Kid still bounce around the pop cultural world as if the movie was recently released. This is testament to its staying power and universal, timeless appeal – despite it having possibly the most 1980s soundtrack ever cobbled together for a film.
“Wax on, wax off. Don’t forget to breathe, very important.”
The 4K disc: Whether you think this transfer is amazing or not will depend totally on one thing: your tolerance for film grain. Its presence here reminded us of the original Ghostbusters on 4K, which is often held up as one of the greatest on the format, despite heavy grain showing at times. Other times it just settles back and becomes essentially unnoticeable – possibly because it’s overshadowed by the exemplary HDR treatment. This 35 year old film pops gloriously, but not unrealistically. Beach scenes look inviting, while darker scenes exhibit a clarity in the shadows that the included Blu-ray just can’t go anywhere near matching. The aforementioned grain does soften the detail slightly, but we’d be surprised if anybody has seen this film looking better than this before.
Sound doesn’t miss out on the party, with a new Dolby Atmos mix created for this release. It isn’t what we’d hail as a demo disc for the audio format, nor should anybody expect it to be. However, general ambience both from what’s going on onscreen and from the score make good use of the extra channels, while several little moments are perfectly placed.
If you’re used to 4K releases with zero extras on-board then here’s a treat, with a recently created 10-minute featurette – Remembering The Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio, Billy Zabka & Martin Kove – on-disc, along with a trailer. The standard Blu-ray has a bunch of extras, including pop-up trivia, a two-part documentary that clocks in at around 45 minutes and three featurettes that run the gamut from the soundtrack’s creator Bill Conti to all about bonsai trees.
Release date: May 1, 2019
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elizabeth Shue
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.