• 32°

BALDWIN: The Karate kid sweeps legs back into Kentucky theater

Osu, my fellow black belt cinephiles of Winchester.

Our current days are full of mask-wearing, social distancing and self-quarantining.

Long gone are the days of mom and pop theaters with odd double bill pairings or video stores where you could throw down some big cash on big videotapes for our big VCRs.

Our evolution in the tech world has made digital video, streaming and cloud storage platforms the avenue of enjoying films in the comfort of your home or on the go.

Our new digital platforms are perfect for quarantine or when you just want to have a lazy day but lack one essential element: the nostalgic experience of traveling for film.

With that being said, I miss the feeling, smells and visual eye candy of box art and posters that were decorating video stores and local theaters in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Independent theaters and family-run video stores — not Blockbuster or multiplex cinemas — were favorite haunts for me when growing up.

Though streaming is convenient nowadays, The Kentucky Theater once again reminds us of the importance of revisiting our youth through film as they start screening today the 1980s award-winning, martial arts drama hit “The Karate Kid.”

“The Karate Kid” is the classic coming-of-age story about New Jersey-born Daniel, played by Ralph “My Cousin Vinny” Macchio, who moves to Southern California with his mother Lucille, played by Randee “Mad Men” Heller, only to find his senior year as the new guy to be welcomed as a kick to the face by his new circle of privileged peers.

It doesn’t take long for the likable Daniel to catch the eye of pretty rich girl Ali, played by Elisabeth “Cocktail” Shue, and the wrath of her jealous ex-boyfriend, Johnny, played by William “Hot Tub Time Machine” Zabka and his cohorts of the merciless Cobra Kai dojo led by their sinister sensei Kreese, portrayed masterfully by Martin, “The Last House on the Left” Kove.

Daniel becomes tired and frustrated of the constant bullying and beating he receives from the misguided Cobra Kai teenage punks and enlists the help of his apartment maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi, played by Pat “Happy Days” Morita.

Miyagi mentors Daniel on compassion, discipline and the true art of karate to prepare him for a showdown with Cobra Kai at an upcoming tournament.

Directed by John G. “Rocky” Avildsen with a script by screenwriter Robert Mark “Taken” Kamen, “The Karate Kid” was a box office hit upon its release and drew in more than $100 million off a budget of $8 million.

Besides the high box office receipts and heavy video rentals, “The Karate Kid” was quick to capitalize on its popularity with the release of merchandise from posters to toys, three sequels, an animated series, a remake and the successful YouTube web series “Cobra Kai” (2018).

The real success of “The Karate Kid” comes from the subtle but effective relationship between Miyagi and Daniel as he mentors him the on cohesion of mind and body through karate, growth through adversity, self-awareness and how to survive life.

The lessons learned by Daniel have a positive effect on the young man as well as the listening viewer of this great film.

Sure, it’s on Netflix this month, but nothing beats seeing a classic on the big screen.

Listen to your Cinema Sensei and take your kids to my favorite movie dojo, The Kentucky Theater.

Wear your mask, stay hydrated and wax on, wax off.

Remember, you’re the best around and have a film-tastic day! 

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society. Find more from Rick on Facebook. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79  and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.