The Most Popular Karate Kid Movie: A Ranking of the Franchise's Greatest Hits

Choose the Film you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 2, 2023 08:20)
Welcome to StrawPoll's ultimate showdown of Karate Kid nostalgia! It's time to put your love for this classic martial arts saga to the test and vote for the most popular Karate Kid movie of all time. From the unforgettable crane kick in the original 1984 film to the thrilling reboot starring Jaden Smith, we've got them all lined up and ready for your verdict. Unleash your inner sensei and make your voice count by voting for your favorite, or if you feel a swift roundhouse kick coming on because we missed a worthy contender, fear not – you can suggest it right here! So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of Daniel LaRusso, Mr. Miyagi, and Cobra Kai, and let the battle for Karate Kid supremacy begin!

What Is the Most Popular Karate Kid Movie?

  1. 1
    This is the original and most iconic movie in the franchise, introducing us to the characters of Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi. It received critical acclaim and was a box office success, cementing its place in pop culture history.
    The Karate Kid (1984) is a coming-of-age martial arts film that follows the story of a teenager named Daniel LaRusso who moves to a new town and faces bullying from a group of karate students. He seeks the help of a wise and unconventional karate master, Mr. Miyagi, who trains him to stand up against his tormentors and compete in a martial arts tournament.
    • Release date: June 22, 1984
    • Running time: 126 minutes
    • Genre: Drama, Action, Martial Arts
    • Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue
    • Box office: $90.8 million
    The Karate Kid (1984) in other rankings
  2. 2
    The sequel to the original movie was also well-received, continuing the story of Daniel and Miyagi as they travel to Okinawa. It explores Miyagi's backstory and adds depth to his character, while also introducing new villains and challenges for Daniel.
    The Karate Kid Part II (1986) is a martial arts drama film and the sequel to the original Karate Kid film. It follows the story of Daniel LaRusso, a young martial artist, and his mentor Mr. Miyagi as they travel to Okinawa, Japan, to confront an old rival and learn more about Miyagi's past.
    • Release Date: June 20, 1986
    • Running Time: 113 minutes
    • Genre: Action, Drama, Family
    • Language: English
    • Country of Origin: United States
  3. 3

    The Karate Kid (2010)

    Harald Zwart
    This remake of the original movie starred Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, updating the story for a new generation. While it received mixed reviews, it was still a commercial success and introduced a new generation to the franchise.
    The Karate Kid (2010) is a martial arts drama film that serves as a remake of the original 1984 film. It follows the story of a 12-year-old boy named Dre Parker who moves to Beijing, China with his mother and gets entangled in a conflict with a local bully and his Kung Fu-trained friends. As he struggles to fit in, he befriends a maintenance man who becomes his mentor in the art of Kung Fu, leading him to participate in a prestigious tournament.
    • Release Date: June 11, 2010
    • Director: Harald Zwart
    • Writers: Christopher Murphey
    • Production Companies: Overbrook Entertainment
    • Runtime: 140 minutes
    The Karate Kid (2010) in other rankings
  4. 4
    This movie starred Hilary Swank as a new student of Mr. Miyagi's, taking on the role of the "karate kid" in this installment. While it was not as successful as the previous movies, it still has a dedicated fanbase and is worth checking out for fans of the franchise.
    The Next Karate Kid (1994) is an American martial arts drama film and the fourth installment in the Karate Kid film series. It serves as both a sequel and a soft reboot, featuring a new protagonist. The film follows Julie Pierce, a troubled young woman who learns the art of karate from Mr. Miyagi to overcome her personal struggles.
    • Release Date: September 9, 1994
    • Running Time: 107 minutes
    • Genre: Martial Arts, Drama
    • Starring: Hilary Swank, Pat Morita, Michael Ironside
    • Music by: Bill Conti
  5. 5
    While not technically a movie, this Netflix series has become incredibly popular and has revitalized interest in the Karate Kid franchise. It picks up decades after the original movies and follows the characters of Daniel and Johnny as they reopen their old rivalry.
    Cobra Kai is a TV series that serves as a continuation of the popular Karate Kid franchise. It takes place 34 years after the events of the original movie and follows the lives of the characters from the film, delving into their present-day struggles and conflicts.
    • Genre: Action, Drama
    • Release Date: 2018
    • Streaming Platform: YouTube Premium (now YouTube Originals)
    • Number of Seasons: 3
    • Number of Episodes: 30
  6. 6

    The Karate Kid: Part III (1989)

    Director: John G. Avildsen
    This movie is often considered the weakest in the franchise, with a convoluted plot and over-the-top villains. However, it still has its fans and features a memorable fight scene between Daniel and his former friend-turned-enemy Mike Barnes.
    The Karate Kid: Part III is a martial arts drama film released in 1989. It is the third installment in The Karate Kid film series. The movie follows the story of Daniel LaRusso as he faces new challenges in karate, this time against a deceitful Cobra Kai sensei who seeks revenge.
    • Release Date: June 30, 1989
    • Genre: Action, Drama, Sport
    • Running Time: 112 minutes
    • Language: English
    • Country: United States
  7. 7
    This animated series aired on Kids' WB from 2000-2007 and followed the adventures of a new karate student named Jackie Chan. While it was not as popular as the movies or the recent TV series, it still has a dedicated fanbase.
    Jackie Chan's The Karate Kid (2007) is a martial arts drama film that serves as a remake of the original 1984 Karate Kid movie. It follows the story of a 12-year-old boy named Dre Parker who moves to Beijing with his mother and finds himself being bullied by his schoolmates. Dre eventually befriends his maintenance man, Mr. Han, who teaches him the art of kung fu to defend himself and overcome his fear. The movie explores themes of friendship, dedication, and the power of discipline.
    • Release Date: June 11, 2010
    • Director: Harald Zwart
    • Stars: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan
    • Genre: Action, Drama, Family
    • Running Time: 140 minutes
  8. 8

    The Karate Kid Returns (1987)

    Director: John G. Avildsen
    This Japanese movie is a sequel to the original movie and features a new student who learns karate from Mr. Miyagi. While it was not released in America, it has become a cult classic among fans of the franchise.
    The Karate Kid Returns (1987) is the sequel to the original Karate Kid movie. It follows the story of Daniel LaRusso as he continues his journey in the world of karate. This time, he faces new challenges and enemies while still guided by his mentor, Mr. Miyagi.
    • Release Year: 1987
    • Genre: Action, Drama, Family
    • Running Time: 113 minutes
    • Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita
    • Language: English
  9. 9
    This series of young adult novels expands on the world of the Karate Kid movies, following the adventures of new characters as they learn karate and face new challenges. It is a fun way to continue the story beyond the movies.
    The Karate Kid Chronicles is a book series based on the popular Karate Kid movie. It expands on the storylines and characters, providing fans with new adventures and insights into the karate world. Each book in the series showcases the personal growth and development of the iconic characters.
    • Genre: Young Adult Fiction
    • Number of Books: 5
    • Publication Date: 1989-1990
    • Page Count: Between 150-200 pages per book
    • Target Audience: Teenagers and Young Adults
  10. 10
    This video game was released for multiple platforms, allowing fans to experience the world of the movies in a new way. It was not as popular as other games of the time, but it is still a fun piece of Karate Kid history.
    Karate Kid: The Computer Game (1987) is a video game based on the popular Karate Kid movie franchise. It was released in 1987 for various home computer platforms, including Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC. The game follows the story of Daniel LaRusso, a young karate student who must overcome challenges and defeat his rivals to become a true karate master.
    • Platform: Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC
    • Genre: Action, Fighting
    • Mode: Single-player
    • Graphics: 2D
    • Sound: Monaural

Missing your favorite Film?


Ranking factors for popular movie

  1. Box Office Performance
    Analyze the worldwide box office success and collection of each Karate Kid movie to gauge the audience's response and popularity. A high-grossing movie is often considered popular.
  2. Critical Reception
    Considering the reviews and ratings provided by film critics could help in understanding the movie's quality and impact. Websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic aggregate and compile these scores, making it easier to compare them.
  3. Audience Ratings
    User ratings on websites like IMDb and the audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes can help determine how much the general public liked and enjoyed the movie.
  4. Cultural Impact
    Evaluate the influence each movie has had on popular culture, such as the introduction of famous catchphrases or memorable scenes that have been parodied or referenced in other media.
  5. Awards and Nominations
    Count the number of awards and nominations each movie has received, as this can be a sign of recognition for its quality and popularity.
  6. Legacy and Franchise
    Determine how each movie contributed to the Karate Kid franchise. For instance, a movie that launched a successful spin-off series or inspired sequels might be considered more popular than others.
  7. Theme and Life Lessons
    Consider the values, morals, and life lessons conveyed in each movie, and their legacy, as these factors often contribute to the popularity and long-lasting impact of a film.
  8. Acting Performances
    Take into account the quality of the acting performances in the movie. Strong acting can make a significant difference in terms of popularity and critical acclaim.
  9. Directing and Cinematography
    Review the quality of directing and cinematography in the movie and whether the filmmakers succeeded in effectively telling the story visually and emotionally.
  10. Soundtrack and Music
    Consider the soundtrack and original music or theme songs within the movie. If they have become popular or memorable, they may add to the film's overall popularity.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular Karate Kid movie. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Film is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 205 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Film once every 24 hours. The rank of each Film is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular karate kid movie

Background Information: The Karate Kid franchise is one of the most beloved movie series in the martial arts genre. The original Karate Kid movie was released in 1984 and starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, a teenager who moves with his mother from New Jersey to California and faces bullying from a group of karate students led by Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka. With the help of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, played by Pat Morita, Daniel learns karate and competes in a tournament against his bullies. The movie was a huge success and spawned three sequels, a spin-off TV series, and a recent reboot starring Jaden Smith. The franchise has a loyal fanbase worldwide, and fans often debate which movie is the best in the series.

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