- Directors: John G Avildsen
- Producers: Jerry Weintraub
- Writers: Robert Mark Kamen
- Genres: Family, Sport
- Actors: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue
Teenager Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves with his mother (Randee Heller) from Newark, New Jersey to Reseda, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California. The family is in search of a new beginning, after the death of Daniel’s father. Their new apartment’s handyman is an eccentric but kindly and humble Okinawan immigrant named Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita).
Daniel meets a potential girlfriend, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), but while doing so, earns the enmity of her ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), a karate student. Johnny is the best student at the Cobra Kai karate dojo, where he is taught an unethical, vicious form of martial arts. Daniel knows some karate from books and the YMCA in New Jersey, but is the target of repeated severe beatings from the much more experienced Johnny and his friends.
When Mr. Miyagi witnesses one of the beatings, he intervenes and, in a surprising display of karate skill, defeats all 5 Cobra Kai with ease. Awed, Daniel asks Mr. Miyagi to be his teacher. Mr. Miyagi initially refuses, but agrees to go with Daniel to the Cobra Kai dojo to see if they can resolve the conflict. They confront the sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo, John Kreese (Martin Kove), to stop the harassment. However, Kreese, an ex-Special Forces Vietnam Veteran, sneers at the concepts of mercy and restraint. Kreese suggests a new match between Johnny and Daniel, which Miyagi deflects by announcing that the match should take place in two months’ time at the â€œAll Valley Karate Tournamentâ€, where Cobra Kai students can fight Daniel on equal terms. Mr. Miyagi also requests that the bullying stop while the boy trains. Kreese orders his students to leave Daniel alone, but threatens that if Daniel does not show up for the tournament, the harassment will resume and Miyagi will also become a target.
In the final scene, Daniel and Johnny are tied, both one point away from victory. Daniel, barely able to stand, assumes the “Crane Kick” stance, and delivers a blow squarely to Johnny’s chin, winning the tournament. Johnny, having gained newfound respect for his adversary, takes Daniel’s trophy from the emcee and presents it to Daniel himself.