(1984)4Michael CostelloThe initial film of the enormously successful Karate Kid series, although essentially the familiar tale of an underdog striving for victory, has an innate appeal often lacking in the genre -- an entirely believable rapport between its two stars. The script centers on the travails of a teenage boy, played by Ralph Macchio, who learns to defend himself against the bullying of some uncomfortably Aryan-looking types from an elderly Asian gardener (Pat Morita) who happens to be a master of the martial arts. The film goes beyond the typical plot machinery, as the old man teaches the boy about more than just karate, and a relationship develops between the two. Macchio and Pat Morita are close to perfection in their roles, and Martin Kove is good as the guy you love to hate. Macchio went on to star in a couple of sequels to the hit film, and it seems possible that his strong identification with the role might have hampered the development of his career.