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15 Secret Facts About The Karate Kid

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15. There’s an official continuation of the story on Netflix!

Netflix’s new TV series Cobra Kai continues The Karate Kid franchise… if you didn’t already know!

Brilliantly enough, it stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, reprising their roles from the original films.

We all loved the original, it was a true classic – you cannot deny!

But, how does this Netflix remake live up to the original movie we all loved?

It basically follows the reopening of the Cobra Kai karate dojo by Johnny and the continuation of his rivalry with Daniel LaRusso… which is truly a tale as old as time at this point.

The second series of Cobra Kai was released in 2019, and got a similarly positive response to the first.

The show also follows the second generation of Johnny and Daniel’s rivalry, with some unexpected twists.

14. Hilary Swank actually starred in a reboot that was eventually given the axe.

You may have heard of the 2010 Karate Kid remake starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, but have you ever seen 1994’s The Next Karate Kid?

It was pretty much as a ‘revamp sequel’ and starred Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce, a new student of Mr Miyagi who was again played by Pat Morita.

The sequel has surprising heart and depth, as it follows Julie Pierce learning karate to combat her anger issues.

Pierce is plagued with anger issues and sadness due to her parent’s untimely demise and works through them with the help of Mr Miyagi.

Critics actually praised the acting and plot of the film, but it failed due to many fans questioning why it was necessary.

Despite it having a solid plot and performances, audiences simply thought that you cannot improve on a classic.

And in all honesty, I wholeheartedly agree with them! You should never try to fix what isn’t broken, after all.

13. The actor playing Freddy was hit in the face by a football.

Daniel has to get used to minor injuries and scrapes throughout the movie, which is unsurprising because he’s the karate kid.

The fairly innocuous football beach scene went sour fast for one actor, and that actor was the one playing Freddy.

In fact, if you watch closely enough, you can see him get hit smack in the face with a football, during a hilarious (yet probably pretty painful) unscripted moment.

The ball hits Isreal Juarbe smack in the face while showing off his football skills to Ali, and you can see the impact just before Daniel is brought back to his senses. Ouch.

While Daniel is trying to get the attention of the beautiful Ali, he shows off his football skills, only to have the ball knocked away by Freddy.

I guess that’s one way to try and impress a girl!?

And I bet that’s one day on set her never forgot.

12. Chuck Norris never actually turned down the role of John Kreese.

It’s a popular Karate Kids myth that Chuck Norris was offered the role of rival dojo owner John Kreese, but turned it down.

It’s difficult to know where the rumour began, but the story goes that he rejected it because he didn’t want to contribute to karate being viewed in a negative light as violent or unethical.

Both producers on the film and Chuck Norris have since confirmed that such an exchange never happened, and was likely made up by fans to explain his absence from the project.

In fact, it’s pretty much agreed upon that he was never even approached about the project, so he didn’t actually have any opportunity to turn it down.

With that said, Norris has made it known that if he had been asked to be in The Karate Kid, he probably would have said no.

Not only that, but he would have said no for the exact reasons fans speculated he would: because he didn’t want to make karate look bad.

And nobody questions Chuck Norris!

11. A food fight involving a blueberry pie between Daniel and Johnny was sadly cut from the film.

Daniel and Johnny have several confrontations throughout the film, not to mention their final showdown at the movie’s climax.

But originally there was meant to be many, many more.

The film allegedly included a sequence of Johnny sneaking a slice of blueberry pie onto Daniel’s seat just before he sat down.

Daniel retaliated by smearing Johnny’s face with blueberry pie, which soon sparked a full-on conflict.

It’s unclear why the scene was cut, maybe because it came too close to the final showdown, or simply because it was too silly.

Either way, some fans may be disappointed that they were originally going to see two schools of martial arts ethics go up against each other… in a food fight.

Maybe it would have been overkill… but I can imagine it would have been very entertaining to watch, also!

10. Unfortunately, you can’t visit the home of Mr. Miyagi.

Once the movie was released, it didn’t take long for Karate Kid fans to find the locations where the film was shot in real-life.

However, one location that did elude them was Mr. Miyagi’s house, where much of Daniel’s training took place.

It took until 2014 for one dedicated fan to discover the address of Mr Miyagi’s house, and the outcome was not good.

As a result of it becoming derelict and dangerous, Mr. Miyagi’s house was demolished in the late 80s.

That hasn’t stopped fans from making the journey to other locations from the film though.

Talk about a dedicated fanbase!

9. Pat Morita didn’t actually kick a crane.

Mr Miyagi’s famed crane kick is perhaps the most iconic part of the movie, since it’s what Daniel spends all movie working towards perfecting.

However, the legendary instructor didn’t actually perform the kick himself!

It might not seem that difficult or dangerous at first glance, but the crane kick on the pole was deemed too extreme for Pat Morita to do himself.

Instead, a professional stuntman and martial artist was brought in to film the scene.

If you want to see what the stuntman actually looks like, you can see him in the tournament scene, as he’s the competitor who is eventually bested by Johnny before the final.

His name is Darryl Vidal, and he is a famous 10th-degree black belt and one of the most respected karate teachers in the world.

I mean, it’s still a pretty freakin’ cool scene!

8. The ending of the movie was originally not the tournament.

The Karate Kid might seem like one of those movies with a perfect ending, where all the loose ends are wrapped up but there’s enough intrigue left for a sequel.

However, it may surprise you to know that the movie didn’t originally end with the winning of the tournament, but with a whole other confrontation that came afterwards.

Early drafts of the script ended with a scene immediately after the tournament, where Mr Miyagi and John Kreese come face to face.

In the scene, Miyagi contemptuously tweaks Kreese’s nose, and members of the Cobra Kai drop their karate belts around their defeated leader in shame.

This ending is how things go in the novelisation of the movie, but things were changed in later drafts of the film’s script, in order to keep the focus on Daniel’s victory, rather than the story of his mentor.

Instead, this confrontation between the two teachers happens at the beginning of The Karate Kid Part II.

At least we still got to see it!

7. Daniel would have been disqualified from the tournament if it had been happening in real life.

The tournament scene is no doubt the high point of the movie, where Daniel finally gets to prevail over his bully and justice is served.

It’s also Mr Miyagi’s proudest moment in the film, since he gets to watch Daniel reach his full potential and succeed.

The pivotal point of the scene is Daniel’s crane kick – Mr Miyagi’s signature move and the one powerful enough to defeat Johnny.

However, the truth is that if Daniel had been competing in a real karate competition, the power of the crane kick could have gotten him disqualified.

As crazy as it might sound, most karate competitions forbid ever striking your opponent with full force, in order to maintain a level of safety.

Obviously, Daniel held nothing back with that crane kick, and most experts agree that he would have been disqualified for it.

Which just goes to show you shouldn’t believe everything you see in the movies!

 

6. The film was turned down by Charlie Sheen.

Given the movie’s success, it’s easy to imagine that several actors were fighting it out for the opportunity to play Daniel LaRusso.

In actual fact, many high profile 80s actors walked away from the opportunity to play the character, even when it was offered to them… can you imagine!?

Charlie Sheen was offered the part but turned it down immediately due to his lack of belief in the project.

Sean Penn had a similar response to the script, also turning down the opportunity to play a character that would become iconic.

It’s easy to say that Ralph Macchio had the best judgement of the bunch, but he also went on to pass on projects that became huge successes.

Most notably the role Marty McFly, after reading the script too quickly and concluding that it was about “A kid, a car, and plutonium pills”.

See? Even movies stars make mistakes, folks!

5. You may not be able to visit Mr. Miyagi’s house, but many iconic Karate Kid locations are still around.

The Karate Kid might not feature any locations quite as iconic as the Rocky steps, but that hasn’t stopped eager fans making pilgrimages to the places the movie was shot.

Fortunately for them, many of the locations are still accessible and have barely changed in the decades since the 80s when the movie was filmed.

In particular, it is possible to visit the apartment complex where Daniel spends most of his time, and the only change is that there’s no longer a tree growing out front.

The beach where the cast can be seen playing football has also undergone hardly any transformation at all, making it another prime visiting spot.

You can also still visit Daniel’s school, which still has everything from the brass plaque outside to the original library.

he school is no longer operational, but it has been transformed into an adult education centre, so it has retained much of its original charm.

So if you’ve ever dreamt of being part of The Karate Kid, nows your chance!

4. The Karate Kid soundtrack almost became the Rocky III soundtrack.

You may remember that The Karate Kid’s soundtrack had a few excellent moments, featuring songs such as Joe Esposito’s You’re the Best.

The track was played in the film during the tournament montage near the end, and kind of became the anthem of the movie.

It’s unusual that You’re the Best was such a good fit for The Karate Kid, as it was actually written for a different movie entirely.

Specifically, it was written for Rocky III, but was rejected by Sylvester Stallone in favour of Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.

Eye of the Tiger went on to become an iconic montage song in its own right, and Survivor created another connection to The Karate Kid.

Instead of writing a song for the finale, they instead performed the main theme, called The Moment of Truth.

I think we can all agree, however, that they’re both completely ICONIC soundtracks.

3. Pat Morita was originally rejected for the part of Mr. Miyagi.

Mr. Miyagi is one of the most beloved mentor figures in all of the film world, right up there with the likes of Dumbledore and Yoda.

It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone but Pat Morita in the role, but he wasn’t always guaranteed the part.

Though he was always the first choice of director John G. Avildsen, other people working on the film did not agree.

In particular, producer Jerry Weintraub was concerned that audiences would not be able to respect him as wise old sage, given his background in comedy.

Morita had previously had a long stint on the sitcom Happy Days, and Weintraub believed that anyone watching Karate Kid would only be able to see Morita as his previous character.

Thankfully, he was eventually given the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong…

…and boy did he soon show that he was the PERFECT cast!

2. Ralph Macchio was actually 22 years old.

The clue is in the name: Karate Kid is about a kid balancing the normal trials of high school with learning the art of karate.

You would be forgiven for thinking that the character of Daniel would be played by an actual high schooler, but you would be wrong.

Ralph Macchio was actually 22 when he was cast in the role, though his castmates had trouble actually believing that.

The baby-faced star was determined to look young enough to convincingly play the part, despite graduating high school over half a decade previously.

Macchio also starred in the sequels, so by the time The Karate Kid Part II and The Karate Kid Part III had been released, he was thoroughly into his late twenties.

Still, most actors strive to look more youthful than they actually are, so Macchio might have actually been quite pleased with his castmates’ teasing.

I tell you, I’d kill for a baby face these days!

1. Pat Morita was Oscar-nominated for his performance.

Despite certain members of production doubting that Morita even should have been cast, he soon proved to be one of the most beloved parts of the movie.

As well as charming critics and audiences alike, his performance soon earned him a slew of award nominations.

As well as being nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Supporting Actor, he also earned an Oscar nomination.

Unfortunately, he did not win in either category.

Even more, unfortunately, he was also nominated for a Razzie thanks to his work on The Karate Kid Part III.

He did earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame though! And that’s not nothing, right?

Besides, we don’t need him to win an Oscar for us to know he’s one of the greatest TV characters of all time, right?