The Karate Kid is an iconic 80s American film. And yes this 80s version is what is important not that embarrassing new version with Jaden Smith. The classic movie is the ultimate tale of an underdog, as Danny LaRusso overcomes every obstacle he faces, concluding in victory over his arch nemesis. The Karate Kid is culturally symbolic too, as “Wax on wax off” has become a well-known saying from the movie. As great as the movie is, it does have a major plot hole at the end. This is what I want to explore today, the strikingly obvious plot hole that director John Avildsen must choose to ignore and hope audiences simply just do not notice.
As Daniel LaRusso enters the karate tournament it is made clear to the viewers the rules of the tournament. One of the rules is no kicks to the face or this is immediate disqualification. So when Daniel wins the tournament over bully Johnny with the famous crane position and kick to the face, why is he not disqualified? Granted in both the semi-finals and championship fight there were many illegal attacks, this winning move is a blatant rule violation. Daniel has been severely injured by multiple illegal kicks and attacks that the refs have punished opponents for, yet when the main character and hero of the story does it, no call by the refs. This feel good moment of the film as Daniel defeats his rival and wins the girl is great, but it should not happen. Daniel should be disqualified and Johnny crowned champion. Now director John Avildsen probably hopes the audience is swept up in the tears of joy as Mr. Miyagi, Daniel, Ms. LaRusso, and Daniel’s female friend Ali, all celebrate together and do not notice this rule violation. While I admit if Daniel had not won the movie would have had an empty feeling, but why make him win like this? Would a kick to the chest have not been just as satisfactory in winning the competition? It would not have been the famous image played over and over again as Johnny’s head whips back and falls with defeat, but it would have been a legal victory for Daniel.
As good as The Karate Kid is this sloppy plot hole could easily have been fixed. I still love every minute of this movie including the winning kick, but a legal kick would have worked just as well. The Karate Kid is a great movie with a lazy, fixable plot hole. If I missed something that made the kick legal I would love to hear, or if you know of a plot hole in this movie or a potential in any other let me know!