For $13 at Wal-Mart, you can buy all three Karate Kid films. If you love anything Karate Kid, you can get the four film set (including The Next Karate Kid) at Amazon. I opted to get the trilogy, as I've never seen the fourth one, and don't really have an interest in seeing the fourth one, as Daniel isn't in it.
The Karate Kid (1984)
By far the best of the series, The Karate Kid stars Ralph Maccio and Pat Morita as Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi, respectively. Daniel and his mother move from New Jersey to California, where Daniel has such a difficult time fitting in, that he becomes the punching bag for a group of older, karate students. Mr. Miyagi eventually agrees to teach Daniel karate so he can defend himself.
I loved this movie as a kid. Watching it again as an adult, I liked it slightly less. Daniel comes off as a whiny brat, at least in the beginning. He tones it down as the movie progresses. The Mr. Miyagi character is fantastic. His unorthodox teaching technique, and his bizarre sense of humor push this film into the classic category. The Karate Kid also explores the morality of when it is acceptable to fight, and what is acceptable to fight for.
The Karate Kid II (1986)
Daniel and Mr. Miyagi return to the screen for another karate adventure. This time, Mr. Miyagi gets a letter informing him that his father is dying. Mr. Miyagi and Daniel travel to Okinawa where an old nemesis of Mr. Miyagi's makes their stay uncomfortable. Daniel clashes with one of Sato's stooges.
The worst part of this film is probably the beginning, where it recaps the whole first movie. Obviously this was made before anyone thought people would be able to watch movies in their home whenever they wanted. It's an alright film, which is only good because of the first one. Daniel is a lot more whiny in this film, and sometimes you want to scream at him, "Didn't you learn anything at all in the first film?"
The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
John Kreese returns, with the aid of a buddy, to exact his revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Daniel's desire to fight puts him at odds with Mr. Miyagi, who wants Daniel to retire. Daniel is forced to find a new teacher.
After two movies of seeing Daniel getting beat up and curling into the fetal position on the ground, you would think either A) it would get old, or B) he would retain some knowledge and skill and be able to defend himself. But no, neither of those are the case in this film. Despite taking karate to learn how to defend himself, and despite the teachings of a direct descendant of the person who invented karate, Daniel still does not poses the knowledge or skill to be able to defend himself against anyone. If you thought Daniel was whiny and pathetic in the first two, you haven't seen anything yet. This movie would be alright if Daniel only had a spine. This film is the weakest of the trilogy.
All in all this is a good collection; you get all three Karate Kid movies, and a few special features on the first disc. If you want the complete story of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, this is the set for you.
© Nate Phillipps 2010