Elisabeth Shue had intended to return to her studies at Harvard once shooting had wrapped up for ‘The Karate Kid’. When the film proved to be an overwhelming box office success, Columbia Pictures immediately called for a sequel.
John Avildsen petitioned for Shue to reprise her role as Ali Mills but Shue, determined to finish her studies, declined. The scriptwriters then wrote in a rather depressing reason for Ali’s departure – she left Daniel LaRusso for a football player.
Mr. Miyagi the Veteran
Military history buffs will appreciate the attention to detail of Mr. Miyagi’s very decorated uniform. Judging by the medals, Mr. Miyagi was an exemplary soldier.
The insignia embroidered on his uniform is that of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a unit of Japanese-American soldiers that fought for America. This is interesting as the Regiment trained separately due to prejudice laws in America at the time.
No Life Jackets
During one of Daniel LaRusso’s many, many training sessions, Mr. Miyagi takes him out on a lake where he instructs Daniel to stand on the bow and begin practicing his Karta. Daniel dutifully does so until Mr. Miyagi begins excitedly rocking the boat, causing Daniel to plunge into the freezing water.
As the movie was shot at the end of the year, it was winter in California, and the teeth-chattering, goosebump-inducing flailing was no acting on Ralph Macchio’s part – the water really was that cold.
Alternate Endings Are New Beginnings
The opening scene of the sequel, 'The Karate Kid Part II', shows John Kreese being subdued by Mr. Miyagi at the All Valley tournament. This scene was originally intended to be the final scene in 'The Karate Kid'. In it, Kreese, engulfed with rage and embarrassment, attacks Johnny Lawrence for losing to Daniel LaRusso.
Mr. Miyagi neutralizes Kreese and instead of delivering a lethal blow, pinches Kreese’s nose. The humbling act makes the other Cobra Kai members remove their belts in disrespect for their disgraced sensei.
Lost in Translation
For such a dedicated and experienced karateka, John Kreese does not seem to know the difference between French and Japanese. Very oddly, Kreese shouts “en garde!” to initiate a fighting session between students.
Now, as most know, en garde is decidedly French and is said between fencers before dueling! To add to the weirdness, the referee in the form of Pat E. Johnson who, as mentioned, was a student of Chuck Norris, also says en garde to signal the start of a fight. Weird!