A critical scene in ‘The Karate Kid’ is Daniel LaRusso coming across a very drunk Mr. Miyagi. The studio believed the scene impeded the pace of the movie and called on the director, John Avildsen, to cut it out of the movie completely. Avildsen refused.
The scene cemented an emotional evolution in the relationship between LaRusso and Miyagi by exposing Miyagi’s vulnerability and depression over being widowed. Avildsen maintained that the inclusion of the scene led to Pat Morita’s Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Daniel Is Disqualified
As every Karate Kid fan knows, Daniel LaRusso crane kicks his way to victory, toppling the bully Johnny Lawrence in one swoop. Few movie endings can compete with this justice-is-served finale. However, any serious karateka will point out that this move would have more than likely have left Daniel disqualified from the tournament.
In karate tournaments, although there is contact, no move is meant to incapacitate or harm the opponent. Daniel’s crane kick would definitely have led to him being deemed unfit for the title.
The infamous Halloween scene whereby Mr. Miyagi comes to Daniel LaRusso’s rescue by knocking out his bullies was a challenge. Pat Morita’s stunt double in the film, a professional karateka named Fumio Demura, was accused of hitting the other actors too hard in the scene which led to many different takes.
Fumio insisted that if his own students were used in the scene, it would be done in one take. The exasperated director allowed for this and true to his word, the entire fight was reshot in a single take.
The Real Miyagi
The character of Mr. Miyagi had a real-life influence. Robert Mark Karmen, the screenwriter of 'The Karate Kid', found inspiration in the naming and characterization of Mr. Miyagi from Chōjun Miyagi, a karateka who developed a modern style for the ancient martial art.
The original Miyagi developed a style called “Goju-Ryu” – meaning “hard-soft”. It is never explicitly stated in the movie that this is the particular fighting style Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel but bona fide practitioners have noticed definite similarities.
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.