Having to move to a new town due to his mother's new job, Daniel finds it very difficult to make friends at school. The one girl who is interested in him also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of a high-ranked karate nut. Daniel soon finds refuge with the apartment complex janitor who sees Daniel's need to learn discipline. He consents to hand down his ancestral knowledge of Karate, accentuating that its use is only meant for defense. As Daniel continues to struggle for a place in life, he must face his enemies in a Karate tournament.
Entertainment Value - A
Out of the first two movies, this is by far better than the second; I have yet to see the third again - but am not as excited after watching the second one. It is almost a coming of age story as Daniel learns to cope with his emotions and harness his anger. It's a convincing story of high school relationship dramas and the "in-crowd." I've heard this compared to Rocky, and I think that's a good comparison.
Moral Value - Failure to Communicate? - 4
This was a very inspiring film that accurately displayed the consequences of decisions we make. It also teaches us about trust. As Daniel didn't understand what it was that Miyagi was teaching him, we don't always understand why we're asked to do something by our leaders/teachers, but by trusting them we grow stronger and more capable.
The bullies philosophy required no self-discipline and they fought to feed their ego. In the end, they learned that real respect comes from fighting honorably. I don't know that Daniel was necessarily a better fighter physically than any of the other bullies, but Miyagi's wisdom in teaching him the martial arts as a means primarily for defense helped Daniel have the right attitude to win the tournament.
I really liked Miyagi's approach to challenging the bullies: in a tournament. This was a very appropriate way to resolve differences; had Miyagi decided to match Daniel brauns against brauns, everyone would have been worse off - Daniel seriously hurt, and the karate punks would still be clueless to their uncontrolled ego.