Ext. Highway to Hell (but we don’t know that yet)
RALPH MACCHIO is bitching to his MOM.
Why did we have to move from Newark to California? I’ll have to adjust to a brand new place, go to a brand new school, get my butt kicked for being the new kid…
RALPH’s PERKY MOM
Whoa, let’s not get ahead of the plot. Look, it’s not like we’re going to Siberia. Besides, there’s gonna be a POOL at our new place.
They arrive, and the pool sucks.
RALPH’s PERKY MOM
Think of it as a METAPHOR, honey. Oh, don’t worry, we’ll get the handyman to fix it.
As they unload their possessions, RALPH makes an INSTA-FRIEND by impressing him with his fake karate skills because someone is needed to provide exposition before the REAL MENTOR appears.
RALPH MACCHIO to INSTA-FRIEND
Do things always suck around here?
Hey, this is California – you know, the land of perpetual summer, etc. Anyway, why don’t you come to a party on the beach later.
EXT. BEACH with the REQUISITE HOT GIRLS, including ELISABETH SHUE
See that girl over there? Her name’s ELISABETH and she’s off-limits because her boyfriend’s WILLIAM ZABKA. He’s head of the COBRA KAI, which is this psychotic group of karate experts, though that shouldn’t worry you because you also know karate.
RALPH then goes and flirts with ELISABETH, thus kicking off the chain of violence and the plot.
Hey, punk, get away from my girl.
You’re supposed to be the villain in this story? You don’t exactly scream Menace to Society with your frosted, mousse-abused hair and your posse of scowling…
WILLIAM proceeds to beat the crap out of RALPH to the dismay of his INSTA-FRIEND who doesn’t appreciate being lied to and drops RALPH faster than a hot potato. Strike one!
INT. THE APARTMENT of SHEER CRUDDINESS – NEXT MORNING
(zeroes in with MOM RADAR)
Honey, why are you wearing sunglasses indoors?
Because a stock eighties movie villain beat me up.
Judd Nelson? Jim Belushi?
William Zabka. Guess I should have rented “Just One of the Guys” or “Back to School” before we moved here.
Or maybe listened to your INSTA-FRIEND. Well, I promise I’ll get the handyman to fix the pool.
EXT. HIGH SCHOOL – SOCCER TEAM TRYOUTS
RALPH MACCHIO (spots ELISABETH bouncing a soccer ball)
Let’s see – I can either avoid her, thus prolonging my life span, or I can go over and impress her with my soccer skills which are more substantial than my karate ones.
ONCE AGAIN – MAKES THE WRONG CHOICE
Look, WILLIAM isn’t my boyfriend. He’s just this possessive douche because our families are friends.
Good to know.
However, RALPH’s glow lasts all of five minutes because WILLIAM gets him kicked out of tryouts proving, like the soundtrack song helpfully claims, “It’s a cruel/cruel summer/leaving me here on my own.” Strike two! (Although Banarama gets a hit song from the deal.)
INT. THE APARTMENT of SHEER CRUDDINESS
Honey, when you get a chance, go ask our handyman, PAT MORITA, to fix the pool.
RALPH ventures down into PAT’s DIMLY LIT LAIR
Hello? Anyone home?
(ignores him, tracks fly with a pair of chopsticks)
You know, a fly swatter might do the job…
(snares fly, looks enigmatic, turns attention to trimming his bonsai)
(backs out warily)
OK, I think we’ve established that you’re Asian and therefore qualifies as a source of wisdom for young impressionable men. At least in the future.
INT. HIGH SCHOOL – BIG HALLOWEEN DANCE
RALPH, who is wearing a bizarre shower costume, doesn’t exactly BLEND IN with the other attendees, but is at least safely concealed from WILLIAM and his POSSE of PSYCHOs. He asks ELISABETH to dance, and she accepts!
Wow, the costumes here have a definite do-it-yourself vibe. Such a change from the usual costume parties in movies where everyone looks like they got their stuff from a going-out-of-business Broadway sale.
True. By the way, check out the Cobra Kai – they’re all wearing skeleton costumes. Is that symbolic or what?
Will you excuse me for just a second? Thanks.
RALPH goes into the bathroom stall and hears none other but the COBRA KAI enter after him.
Let’s see – I have an excellent chance to play a lighthearted prank on my nemesis, though the odds that he will catch and pulverize me are high, or I can maturely wait until they leave and go back to dancing with ELISABETH.
He makes the wrong choice – yet again. Strike three!
INT. An unfamiliar bedroom
Where am I? Oh shit, don’t tell me.
You’re going to be okay.
You mean you just saved my butt from the Cobra Psychos, but you knew karate all along and didn’t bother to tell me?
When the student is ready, the master will appear.
INT. DOJO of TOXIC MASCULINITY
MARTIN KOVE is busy screaming orders at his students, including WILLIAM.
Kill! Maim! Groin kick if you have to!
(sees PAT and RALPH)
Can I beat you to a pulp today?
(serene as a lake at sunset)
How about waiting until the next tournament in which my pupil and yours will compete in the arena fairly? Until then, he’s off limits.
Jeez, what happened to the usual movie bully who backs off with a single well-placed punch or a speech about values? How did I get so unlucky?
EXT. Driveway outside Pat’s lair
I should have brought this up sooner, but I can’t really pay you.
No problem. Just paint the fence.
Is this some kind of Tom Sawyer trick, or do you really need it painted?
RALPH paints the fence (both sides!), waxes the car, etc. Finally, he is ready to – go to the beach and stand on a wooden structure to kickbox the incoming waves. But all of this has (gasp) hidden benefits, and slowly, RALPH becomes the KARATE KID.
INT. THE BIG TOURNAMENT
RALPH, PAT and ELISABETH (whose role has now devolved into cheerleader) are prepping in the waiting room.
Here’s a belt I filched for you.
Ancient Chinese skill, right? Thanks.
I predict that it will come down to you and WILLIAM in the end, after you handily trounce your earlier competitors. Then he’ll do something shady…
Whoa, let’s not get ahead of the plot.
OK, then you go out there and kick some ass to a cool soundtrack.
You’re the best! Uh huh! Nothing’s ever gonna keep you down!”
(between high kicks)
That’s more like it.
Now in the final match, it’s down to RALPH and WILLIAM. Commence.
WILLIAM cheats which comes as a shock to anyone who hasn’t seen a movie before.
PAT, I don’t think I can finish after being half-crippled.
(rubs hands together, places them on RALPH’s knee, a move that will HURT LIKE HELL when you go home and try it later, but does the trick!)
RALPH wins the trophy, the girl and his self-respect. And lives happily ever. At least until the sequel.