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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Here's Your First Lesson: How To Take a Fall!

There's an old story about Harlan Ellison where he's giving a talk to a bunch of college kids, and--in true Harlan Ellison fashion--he gets bored with their line of questioning and wants to take it in a different direction. So he asks them what they think the best movie of all time is. Now being that this is a bunch of students, he's expecting Casablanca or Citizen Kane, which means he's absolutely shocked when this one cat gets up and goes:

"Blade Runner!"

So there Harlan stands, with the other kids nodding and agreeing, momentarily stunned.

"Wait a second," he reportedly says, "I ask you for the best movie of all time and you guys think it's Blade-fucking-Runner?"

I can really sympathize with Harlan in that situation. I mean, everyone knows that the single greatest film of all time, and I'm dead serious, is 1984's Karate Kid.

In case you haven't seen it (and I can't even imagine the kind of life you've led if you haven't), Karate Kid is the story of Daniel Larusso, a young man who hates his bike (hates his stupid bike!) and needs to take karate (not at the Y, mom! At a real school!).

The cause of this burning desire is a nemesis in the form of Johnny, who responds to Daniel's arrival in California from his native New Jersey by immediately beating him up in front of Marty McFly's girlfriend from Back to the Future II. See, Johnny knows an evil form of karate taught by John Kreese: The Cobra Kai Style. In true 80s fashion, the Cobra Kai is deadly and merciless, and the students use their knowledge of martial arts to push people down hills and keep them from scoring with Elizabeth Shue.

Kreese is played by Martin Kove, America's greatest living actor. Seriously, he is awesome, and Kreese ranks alongside Darth Vader and Angel Eyes as one of the best villains in film history, and that's a fact.

Anyway, not that you really need me to tell you this, but Daniel finds his own personal Yoda in the form of Mr. Miyagi, who uses him for slave labor while subconsciously teaching him to unlock the Secrets of the Warrior Power. He then enters the All-Valley Karate Tournament and proceeds to beat the shit out of everyone who crosses his path, and even survives a deadly attempt to sweep the leg, which causes Mr. Miyagi to use his magical fucking powers.

FACT: That sentence just blew your mind.

You can have your Star Wars and your Lord of the Rings, but I think we all realize now what the true Holy Trilogy is. And there's even an extra flick starring Academy Award-winner Hillary Swank thrown in... for the ladies.

But beyond all of its memorable pop-culture appeal, Karate Kid is actually a really good movie. "Wax on, wax off" may be the punchline to a million jokes, but you might've forgotten the part where Mr. Miyagi gets drunk and shows Daniel how his wife died in an internment camp while he was fighting in World War II. It's a truly incredible piece of character development that even outshines that time he chops the beer bottles in half with his bare hands.

The movie is, to say the least, incredibly prevalent at the shop. Not a week goes by that we don't get into a lentghy conversation about it, and it's rare that we make it a day without dropping a quote. And don't think we go for the obvious, either--there's no waxing off at our shop, Jack. We go for the good stuff:

"I'll be safer takin' the bus!"

"Man who catch fly withi chopstick accomplish anything."

"Fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?! Pain does not exist in this dojo, does it?! Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it?!"

"If a man attacks you on the street he is your enemy! An enemy deserves no mercy--WHAT IS THE PROBLEM MISTER LAWRENCE?!"

"No call no one nothing."

"You're a pushy little bastard. I like that."

And my personal favorite, shrieked in a falsetto, yet undeniably male voice: "JOHNNY YOU'RE A CREAMPUFF!"

See? Amazing. And believe me, I could go on. I could get into Karate Kid III, where Kreese gets his old buddy from the 'Nam, Terry Silver, also known as the Bad Boy of Karate, to split the Larusso/Miyagi partnership and... make his knuckles bleed.

But I won't. Because everyone knows in their heart that this is the best movie of all time because of one simple fact. And that is this:

Not only you, but everyone you know--every single person you've ever spoken to--has at one time in their life attempted the Crane Kick.


Blogger Chris Sims said...

No sooner had I posted this than one of my oldest friends who lives today as a struggling improvisor in Chi-Town told me about some buddies of his that have in their act a song called "Karate Kid: A Rock Opera."

It is the single most awesome song I've ever heard. Go listen to it right now.

4/27/2005 11:32 PM

Blogger vickmacky said...

Yea, it's too bad they fight over a damn banzai tree. I mean come on, I have one of those things in MY house.

4/28/2005 1:08 PM

Blogger Mark W. Hale said...

That is pretty awesome. They should make it into a real full-length play. I mean, if they can build plays around shitty shit like Abba and Billy Joel, this should be a snap.

My favorite thing about Hillary Swank getting an Oscar is that the movie she got it for is the same damn plot as The Next Karate Kid.

4/28/2005 1:21 PM

Blogger vickmacky said...

Hey Chris, totally off-topic, but look at this article. Number one in tha theater, G:


4/28/2005 11:17 PM

Blogger Bill Reed said...

Yes, this post is fifteen months old. But I'm replying to it now, suckafoo!

Because... you're WRONG. I'm assuming you're wrong, anyway. I've never seen Karate Kid. But I *have* seen the best movie ever, which you may call a rip-off of Karate Kid, but I know better.

That movie is Sidekicks. It stars a fearful combination of Beau Bridges, Joe Piscopo, Mako, the kid from SeaQuest, and, get this, Chuck Norris... as HIMSELF. Asthmatic loner whatsisface dreams of being a karate star like his hero Chuck Norris, and gets wrapped up in ridiculous day dreams. But then... his dreams have a chance of coming true!

And it's got the best ending shot... ever.

Also, Mark Hale must die for dissing Billy Joel.

7/31/2006 1:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know no-one's ever going to read this post, but I have to put it out there anyway. I actually saw Ellison when he came to my college, and what you've described is completely in character. I showed up about five minutes late, and I walked into a bizarrae spectacle. My buddy's girlfriend was there to take notes for the paper, and was sitting in the front row. Harlan had gotten to talking about the Holocaust, and mentioned the Concentration Camp at Dachau. She piped up and asked him What that was, being woefully ignorant, and so I walked in to see Harlan Ellison, a little five-foot elf of a man, looming over her in the front shouting "You silly little bitch, how can you not know what Dachau was??" Kind of frightening. After that, he was pretty cool, though. Just don't get him started on the Holocaust.

2/27/2007 2:52 AM

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