The ‘80s remain the decade of seminal soundtracks especially when it comes to epic showdowns. Before a drunken Randy Marsh from South Park made a whole new generation aware of Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best”, the song was immortalized as the accompaniment to the final fight between Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso.
“You’re The Best” apparently wasn’t the best choice for Sylvester Stallone as it was rejected in favor of “Eye of the Tiger” for Rocky. Fortunately, John Avildsen found the perfect fit for it in ‘The Karate Kid’.
“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.
Johnny Lawrence’s Less Intimidating Namesake
The cast and crew understood the target audience of 'The Karate Kid'. It is inarguably a film that has transcended generational gaps and this is in no small part due to the attention to detail. Details such as the name of the antagonist. To best visualize this, imagine getting beat up by a guy named Donald. And his surname is Rice.
That’s correct – Johnny Lawrence was originally named Donald Rice. We are certain that the roundhouse kicks and karate chops would feel far less painful knowing it was being delivered by a “Donnie Rice”.
Dennis Palumbo, a screenwriter recognized for shows such as 'The Love Boat', was originally approached to write the script. Palumbo was a fan of the story but insisted that should he write it, he would write it to end with Daniel LaRusso’s defeat to Johnny Lawrence.
The producers and studio were vehemently against this idea. Palumbo defended his idea by stating that Miyagi’s “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose” mantra leads to a predictable win. Seeing the success of the franchise, Palumbo admitted that he was “being a moron.”