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The Karate Kid at 40: why the film’s lasting appeal stems from a simplistic stereotyping of the ‘mysterious east’

By Paul Bowman, Professor of Cultural Studies, Cardiff University
Forty years after the release of The Karate Kid, many fans of the film still can’t hear the name “Daniel” without wanting to add a “san” to it. They may channel the iconic teacher Mr Miyagi, with his deep guttural intensity. And they may even repeat the film’s most famous saying, “wax on, wax off”, raise their arms and stand on one leg whenever they hear that someone does karate.

But are these fragments the sum total of the film’s legacy? And are they mere harmless fun – or do they register as racism, or something like it?

Arguably, the very appeal of The Karate Kid derives…The Conversation

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