Yup, the original The Karate Kid turns 30 this Sunday—having been released on June 22, 1984. In a summer that unleashed some high-profile tent pole pics including Ghostbusters, Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, this was a true example of a “sleeper” hit. The Karate Kid came in under the radar to turn into an unexpected hit; leading to three direct sequels and a reboot which will soon get a sequel of its own.
Even as a child, I initially had no interest in watching The Karate Kid. For one thing, the title was stupid. The Karate Kid? What kind of dumb title was that? And it stars that wimp from The Outsiders and the funny Japanese guy from Happy Days? Not as interesting as the first choices for the roles—Charlie Sheen and Japanese legend Toshiro Mifune. Plus even at that young age, I instinctively knew that the story of an “Oriental” mentor playing second fiddle to the white hero was problematic.