The Karate Kid Like You've Never Seen It Before

Before it was a decades-long film franchise, Karate Kid was a low-fi proof of concept "rehearsal movie," and recently filmmaker John G. Avildsen posted he entire thing to YouTube.

...Well, recently being relative. The film was shot in 1983 on what looks like a VHS camcorder, and posted to YouTube about 6 years ago. That said, as with all things on social media, it recently kicked up again on Reddit, with a new generation of users seeing it for the first time.


Beyond just being a kind of "beta test" for one of the best-loved family sports movies of all time, the 13-part series of videos, posted in 10-minute segments, includes a look inside of Avildsen's directing style, some deleted scenes, and guest appearances by cast and crew members who would never make it into the final film, standing in for and playing opposite actors who would become recognizable '80s icons for their roles.

In Karate Kid, Daniel Larusso is the new kid in town when he runs afoul of a bully -- no surprise there, but in this case the bully is a black belt and has a posse of fellow bad-tempered karate students to back him up, and a terrible instructor who doesn't care what his students do, so long as they win.

In order to defend his honor (and his personal safety), Daniel seeks out the help of an old Japanese man who teaches him martial arts.

Ralph Macchio, Elisabeth Shue, and Pat Morita starred in the film. Avildsen, who also directed Rocky, Lean On Me, and The Power of One, provides some commentary in the YouTube descriptions for the videos.

You can check the video stream out below.


Among those Avildsen gives a lot of credit to are his cast, a "fearless" studio who made a movie that was a gamble at the time, and both Robert Kamen -- who wrote the film -- and Pat Johnson, who helped with the martial arts.

Of course, you can stream the theatrical cut of this movie or buy it on DVD just about anywhere.