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The Martial Arts Classic That's Taking Over Amazon Video

There are fondly remembered movies, and then there are stone-cold classics. 1984's The Karate Kid is firmly in the camp of the latter thanks to its inspirational story, surprisingly emotional character moments, and — of course — the killer martial arts on display throughout the film. To crib a phrase from Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the whole thing is incredibly badass. The movie spawned several sequels, and is such a beloved classic that over 30 years later, it got a follow-up series, Cobra Kai, which features an astonishing number of actors from the original film returning to continue the story.

It should come as no surprise then that the movie is still a hit with audiences all these years later. In fact, at the time of writing, The Karate Kid is one of the top ten most watched movies in the US on Amazon Video (via Flix Patrol). Even though a lot of the details are quintessentially retro, the characters and story have a timeless quality that is clearly still resonating with audiences today.

If you've never seen this classic and you've been meaning to see what all the fuss is about, here's why it's worth a watch, '80s schmaltz and all.

The Karate Kid is a little corny, but it's a quintessential coming-of-age movie

The Karate Kid quite literally focuses on a young person who learns martial arts. Danny LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is a New Jersey teen who moves to Los Angeles after his mom gets a work transfer. Danny quickly finds that the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry is real, and runs afoul of a group of bullies. But these jerks aren't just your typical ruffians. They all train at a dojo called Cobra Kai, meaning that if Danny wants to stand a chance against them, he's going to need some help.

Enter Mr. Miyagi (the late, great Pat Morita), the maintenance guy at the apartment complex where Danny lives, who is conveniently also well versed in karate (and was inspired by a real karate master). Although Danny doesn't understand all of his opaque training techniques at first, he eventually becomes a star pupil and uses his training to take on Cobra Kai.

In classic '80s movie fashion, the plot is both empowering and delightfully cheesy. Even much of the cast and crew thought so. In an oral history of the making of the movie published in Sports Illustrated, Macchio confessed, "I found it a little corny. Maybe a little overly saccharine, sweet." He also said he "fought tooth and nail to change this goofy title." 

Ultimately, though, the silly title stuck and lo and behold, it went on to become one of the classics.