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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 18th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1984

The Karate Kid: 40th Anniversary - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Matthew Hartman
The Karate Kid: 40th Anniversary Edition sweeps the leg for a brand new (well sorta) 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. Previously available as part of the trilogy set (and a solo disc in 2019), Sony gives the first film a fitting new solo release with the same excellent A/V presentation with Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos but sweetens the pot with some interesting new extra features, and a stylish retro-wear-and-tear slipcover. Not enough to command another purchase if you're happy with the trilogy set, but for first timers - Highly Recommended
  

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital - VHS Styled Packaging
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265 - Dolby Vision HDR/HDR10
Length:
127
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD MA 5.1, 2.0
Release Date:
June 18th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

Sure it's been two years since I last looked at The Karate Kid, but my feelings haven't changed. John G. Avildsen's coming-of-age tale still punches all the right heartstrings forty years later. Here's what I had to say way back in early 2022. 

The Karate Kid was a genuine video store gem when I was a kid. My local Mom and Pop shop maybe had all of two copies and it was always rented. In that time of the long long ago you couldn’t just buy a tape (at least not at a decent price) so you just had to keep going to the store and hope that it was there. Because this happened with so many movies we wanted to see, my dad made sure to always tape everything we rented. That first bootleg tape of The Karate Kid didn’t last long. As a little squirt, it was the only thing that I watched that wasn’t Superman or didn’t star Arnold Schwarzenegger with “Conan” in the title. 

As an adult, the film still hits. I don’t often pull this off the shelf but it’s an important piece of the collection. I’m not usually a big fan of the “coming-of-age” drama because more often than not it’s a pretty trite affair. The genre is usually boiled down to an overly simplistic platitude that makes your eyes roll. But there’s something genuine about John G. Avildsen’s little film. It may be a little too “Rocky with Karate” at times, but the relationship dynamic between the teacher Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), and the troubled yoot Daniel (Ralph Macchio) makes this film special. It’s the magic in the bottle the sequels would keep trying to recapture but you can only experience learning “wax on, wax off” once. The sequels are fun for a watch here and there, but three follow-ups and a remake can’t touch the majesty of this first outing. 

For a more in-depth take on John G. Avildsen's The Karate Kid, check out our original Blu-ray review written back in 2010.

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Karate Kid
 makes his third comeback on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray - this time celebrating the 40th Anniversary (as a part of Sony's ongoing Columbia Classics 100 celebration). This two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital features retro-worn-out styled artwork and an identical slipcover designed to look like the Columbia Pictures VHS boxes of olden times. While a stylish look, I wish they'd gone whole hog with the design and had closing flaps to keep the case in place. Annoyingly, there are stickers on the slipcover advertising the Movies Anywhere compatible digital code and the 100 Years Columbia Pictures. Neither are easy to remove without ripping so be very careful if you attempt to peal them off. The 4K is again pressed on a BD-100 disc, the BD-50 disc for the 1080p version is again the exact same disc that's been recycled for over a decade now. The 4K disc loads to a static-image main menu with the extra features panel along the right side of the screen. The key difference here, there are now more extra features on the disc! 

Video Review

Ranking:

While a newly authored disc, the bitrate isn't all that different. A little higher here, a little lower there, but otherwise essentially the same Dolby Vision / HDR10 transfer that came with the Trilogy Collection in late 2021. Here's what I had to say back then:

For its second round on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, The Karate Kid gets a new Dolby Vision HDR pass. Essentially this is the same 4K restoration as the previous disc - so don’t expect anything drastically different. The HDR10 grading is exactly the same. But that’s not a bad thing, this disc was already pretty damn terrific and truthfully if Sony had wanted to simply repackage the same discs again - that’d been just fine. Details are excellent throughout with impressive facial features, costuming textures, and production design are all appreciable. 

The notable differences with the Dolby Vision pass over the HDR10 are some improvements during dark shadowy night sequences or bright white locations like inside the Cobra Kai dojo. Black levels are a bit better resolved - like when Miyagi shows Daniel why he’s been working so hard for their first true Karate lesson. Karate Gi’s are a brilliantly crisp white. Primaries red, blue, and yellow have plenty of pop - but I didn’t notice enough of an enhancement there over the HDR10 disc. All in all a fine upgrade, but if this is the only film in the series you love, it’s not enough of one worth buying the full set for.

Audio Review

Ranking:

Once again the same audio options return. We have the same respectable Dolby Atmos, and solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 audio options. My thoughts for this atmos was that it was very good but didn't blow my hair back so I'm going to include E's views on the mix from his review of the 35th Anniversary 4K disc from 2019.

Worth noting for our foreign friends, this disc scratched off the Czech and German alternate language tracks but kept French and Spanish - so keep that in mind if you aim to import. 

"The mostly front-heavy presentation maintains an attractively wide and broad soundstage with a good deal of background activity spreading across the three front channels and into the off-screen space. Occasionally, some of that activity fluidly moves into the top heights, such as Johnny's gang of motorcycles roaring across the screen, the chirping of birds in the distance or the chatter of the audience sitting at the tournament, and Bill Conti's score also enjoys the extra breathing room by bleeding into the overheads. With excellent precision and definition in the mid-range, the score, song selections and few bits of action reach the higher frequencies with outstanding acoustical detailing while maintaining great fidelity and warmth. The surrounds are put to good use as atmospheric effects nicely extend the soundfield with the cheers of spectators in the last quarter of the movie. While dialogue reproduction is superbly clear and intelligible throughout, the low-end is adequate and appropriate for a teen drama with some appreciable weight in the music."

Special Features

Ranking:


In addition to the stylish slipcover, Sony helps celebrate this film's 40th anniversary with a little upgrade in the bonus features department. In addition to the returning extra features from the old Blu-ray disc and what was offered two years ago in the trilogy set, we now get an excellent new audio commentary and about thirty minutes of deleted scenes dailies. The new audio commentary featuring Cobra Kai creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg is a lively, fun, and informative listen. Obviously it's light on production anecdotes since they were kids when this film came out, but they do a magnificent job pointing out references and pieces they used throughout the Cobra Kai series and the kinds of callbacks they felt were important when revisiting these characters. Also, it's great fun to listen to three guys talk about a film that's obviously near and dear to their hearts. Next for the new extras are the deleted scenes dailies. These are raw, unfinished unused takes that offer a little glimpse into the filmmaking and editing process. It's interesting to see how with each take they reworked delivery timing and so forth. Not an essential missing extra by any stretch but a very cool watch all the same. 

4K UHD Disc

  • NEW Audio Commentary featuring Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg 
  • NEW Deleted Scenes Dailies (HD 30:28 Total)
    • Conversation with Mom
    • Karate Waiver
    • A Temporary Truce
    • Mom is Impressed
    • Kreese Reaction
  • Deleted Scenes (HD - 4 Scenes 3:14 total)
  • Remembering The Karate Kid Featurette (HD 10:22)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Blu-ray Disc

  • Audio Commentary
  • The Way of The Karate Kid Part 1
  • The Way of The Karate Kid Part 2
  • Beyond the Form
  • East Meets West: A Composer’s Notebook
  • Life of Bonsai
  • Trailers

To celebrate 100 years of Columbia Pictures and this film's 40th Anniversary, Sony delivers another shot of The Karate Kid on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. This 40th Anniversary Edition offers up the same Dolby Vision transfer and Atmos audio track as the last release a little over two years ago. However, sweetening the deal is some interesting new extra features and stylish retro-themed artwork and slipcover. The new audio commentary is a great listen and the deleted scenes dailies are worth a watch - but overall I don't think they're enough to warrant a double or even a triple dip at this juncture. If you're happy with the Trilogy set, then you're good. But if you still haven't upgraded The Karate Kid for the collection and don't really care about the sequels, this is the one to pick up for the shelf. Highly Recommended. 

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