The Karate Kid: 3-Movie Collection (1984-1989) | 4K Blu-ray Review


The oft quoted, always memorable coming of age trilogy is here is a 4K set. WHile we already had the original get the treatment for it’s 35th anniversary a couple years back, this is the first time the latter two in the original trilogy are getting an upgrade. And at a reasonable price, if Sony did this right, then this will be a no-brainer to pick up. Let’s dig in and find out.

NOTE: As of publishing, it is only possible to purchase the latter two movies via this collected set, therefore this review will encompass all 3 movies and their collective quality in terms of scoring, however positives and negatives of each will be highlighted in the write-up. Differences in specs will be highlighted with movie specific designations (“K1”, “K2”, etc), for the respective film by release order. Additionally, I will not be providing scores for the included Blu-rays as they are the same discs included in past standalone releases, but will highlight them for comparisons in quality.


If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

The Karate Kid Collection, 4K Blu-ray cover art

Tech Specs:

Format(s):UltraHD/4K Blu-ray (BD-100, 2x BD-66)
Blu-ray (3x BD-50)
Digital Code
Released By:Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date:December 7th, 2021
Video Format / Codec:H.265 (HEVC)
Resolution:Native 4K, 2160p/24p
Digital Intermediate (DI):4K (from 35mm negatives)
High-Dynamic Range (HDR):Dolby Vision (MEL), HDR10
Aspect Ratio:1.85:1
Audio Format(s):English: 
Dolby Atmos / TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
DTS-HD MA 5.1  (48kHz, 24-bit)
DTS-HD MA 2.0  (48kHz, 24-bit)
 
Additional Tracks:
K1: Czech, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Spanish

K2/K3: French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles:K1: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

K2: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish

K3: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Packaging:Rigids Slipbox containing 3 dual disc snapcases w/ slipcovers
Region Coding:4K: Region-free
BR: Region A (locked)

Video Review:

Previously we had received the original The Karate Kid on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray back in 2019, but the other two films in the original trilogy have ever been remastered for the format. I will note that the disc for the first film in this set, while coming from the same 4K scan, does not contain a Dolby Vision enhanced color grade in addition to the HDR10.


With that out of the way, let’s talk about detail. The 2019 edition of the Karate Kid was already excellent, with a marked upgrade in detail throughout the film. There is a very filmic look to this transfer and it really serves the film well. There is a nice uptick in fine textures and details in hair, skin and clothing, as well as a much more refined look to the various sets throughout the film. Thankfully the 2nd film in the series received the same treatment and looks equally as stunning on the detail front as the first film. The third part is not quite to the same quality, possibly from the originating source material, especially those scenes that really pushed the film capture due to the low light conditions. I don’t want to mislead and suggest that this is in any way a bad looking transfer, it’s just a small step down from the first 2 films. Given their age, all three films do contain a fair level of film grain throughout, with the first two films looking organic and pleasant, and the 3rd mostly looking the same except for those aforementioned dark scenes where the grain gets a bit strong and a little blotchy, but still a vast improvement over past releases.

All three 4K discs received a Dolby Vision color grade in addition to the base HDR10. Each gets a benefit here over their standard dynamic range counterparts on both color and handling of shadow and highlight detail. The colors look richer but still natural throughout the films. The colors in the tournament hall, green foliage and blue skies all have full presence that was not there on the past 1080p releases. The handling of darks and lights are definitely a winner here as well with shadow detail being extracted throughout the film and highlights remaining impactful, but not blown out. Sony did an excellent job here making for a very dynamic, yet controlled presentation.

For the first film, the Dolby Vision is an upgrade over the standard HDR10 on that release, but it is not revolutionary, just a refinement. I will also note that the handling of brightness on this new release is a bit stronger than the past release, but I did not find it to be over the top and that past release was just a touch dark.

When comparing them all to their past Blu-ray releases (all three Blu-rays in this collection are the same as previously released by Sony and not any from the horrible looking Mill Creek releases). I will say of the three, the third is definitely the one that saw the biggest jump in overall quality here, but that’s more due to the lower quality of the Blu-ray that it had a lot of room to gain.

Video Score (4K): 4.4 / 5

The Blu-rays are the same as past releases and will not be given score.


Audio Review:

Each of the three films comes with a Dolby Atmos mix, as well as a 5.1 and stereo mix on the 4K disc. The mix on the first film does sound to tbe the same as we received on the 2019 mix, but that one was not broken, so I’m glad they left it alone. All three Atmos mixes make good use of the format, providing a richer audio experience by leveraging the surrounds and heights to supplement the clean and clear presentation up front. There is a mix of ambiance building, music presentation and discrete effects used in each of the mixes and it really takes the movie to a new level on the audio front. For bass and LFE, they are definitely present supporting the musical score, but also the rumble of motorcycles and the thunderous presence of storms overhead. These mixes will not threaten the integrity of your subs, but they will make sure they don’t get bored.

The 5.1 and stereo mixes are solid as well, and while often I lean towards the mix available at the time of the origination of a film, this is definitely one of those cases where the proper upgrading of the audio experience brings more life and fullness to the presentation without making it feel out of place with the visuals on screen.

Audio Score (4K): 4.1 / 5

The Blu-rays are the same as past releases and will not be given score.

Special Features and Packaging:

For special features, everything from the past Blu-ray releases is still available on those discs, but we did get a couple of features on the 4K for the first two films. We get a nice mix of audio commentaries, trailers, deleted scenes and featurettes. The majority of the legacy features hold up, and the new additions are a nice treat. The big let down here is that Part 3 still has no features, except for a single trailer. The past Blu-ray from Sony was also barren of features, and I was hoping with this new premium format release, they may find the time and budget to put something together for the 3rd film, but alas we are left wanting.

On packaging, Sony did a nice job with custom artwork adorning a rigid slip box and then giving individual slipcovers to the the three releases on the interior each with their own artwork. Overall, given the price of this set, it’s a nice premium look and feel without breaking the bank.

The Karate Kid Collection, Expanded Packaging

Features Score: 3.7 / 5

Buy/Upgrade-worthiness:

OK, so should you buy this? In short, I would recommend picking this up. We do not know if Sony will be releasing the latter two films individually so if you want those on 4K, this is the only way to get them. If you own the 2019 edition you can decide which one you like best (HDR10 vs new Dolby Vision) and sell the other one. In any case the visual and audio quality of all three included films make this a must buy for any fan of this franchise.


Buy/Upgrade Recommendation: YES!

If after checking out the review, you decide to pick it up, you can find it here*: Amazon

Summary and Overall Scores:

Sony continues to show the major studios how to do 4K releases properly. They clearly take the time and care to enhance the quality of their films, and give service to the fans who support them. The 3-movie collection here is a great offering in this mid-tier (edging on premium) level of release.

Experience Score**: 4.2 / 5  (Very Good)

** Experience score does not take into account the quality of the film itself, just the technical presentation, packaging and included features.

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