What can be considered a very near miss in movie history was that Pat Morita was not originally selected to play Mr. Miyagi. Morita’s long history of playing comedic parts was considered by the casting staff to be a detriment — audiences were well acquainted with his roles in ‘Happy Days’ and ‘M*A*S*H’.
As legend has it, it took a grand total of five auditions for Morita to convince John Avildsen that he could shed his comic persona and embody the rather solemn Mr. Miyagi.
Chuck Never Chucked in the Towel
The character of John Kreese, played by Martin Kove, has inspired a few myths and some of these involve Chuck Norris. Norris, being a figurehead of martial arts in the ‘80s, was reputed to have been offered the role of John Kreese, the primary antagonist in 'The Karate Kid'.
Reportedly, Norris turned down the role due to its negative portrayal of karate instructors. While Norris himself has confirmed this to be untrue, he did admit that he would have turned down the role for that very reason.
The Mythical Crane Kick
Right, at this point we take full responsibility for shattering childhood ideals! For all the boys and girls out there that dutifully practiced the (in)famous Crane Kick – it’s a completely fictional karate move.
Well, not completely fictional as the stance is used in Karta displays but the actual move of “kicking someone like a crane”…yeah, is nothing more than silver screen lore.
“Karate Kid” was a lesser-known (yet still very copyrighted) character in the DC Comics universe. Karate Kid belonged to the Legion of Superheroes and was a pivotal character in the comic book. The title of “The Karate Kid” was considered too good a marketing tool to compromise on so the producers approached DC Comics to negotiate using the name.
DC Comics, who owned “Karate Kid” had no issue in allowing Columbia Pictures to title the movie “The Karate Kid”. We bet DC would have negotiated differently in retrospect.
A Referee for Life
Pat E. Johnson served a few roles in The Karate Kid franchise and this is one of those Chuck Norris influences that does (indirectly) make its way into the movie. A longtime student of Chuck Norris, Johnson served as a stuntman, the fight coordinator, the fight choreographer, and an actor in the film series.
'The Karate Kid' fans can spot Johnson as the referee in the final fight scene between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. Johnson was one of only four people on the set that had any martial arts training.