The Karate Kid (1984) Poster


Surprisingly, during filming in late 1983, Ralph Macchio was age 22. Some of the cast did not believe him when he was asked about his age.
The yellow classic automobile that Daniel polishes in the famous "wax-on/wax-off" training scene, then later offered by Mr. Miyagi as Daniel's birthday gift, was actually given to Ralph Macchio by the producer, and he still owns it. The car is a 1948 Ford Super De Luxe.
William Zabka still owns the red leather jacket he wears in the film.
The studio wanted to drop the "drunk Miyagi" scene, feeling it slowed the pace down. Director John G. Avildsen argued for it and has felt it was the scene that got Pat Morita nominated for an Oscar.
During the scene where Mr. Miyagi is drunk and celebrating an "anniversary," he reveals that he served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army, an Asian American unit composed of mostly Japanese Americans (many of whom had been in internment camps) who fought in Europe during the Second World War and soon became the most highly decorated unit in the history of the American military.
Elisabeth Shue interrupted her studies at Harvard to be in this movie.
The last spin kick that Daniel is hit with before he is saved by Mr. Miyagi actually hit Ralph Macchio and hurt him.
The song Miyagi drunkenly sings during the "celebration" of his anniversary is actually fragments of the Japanese folk song "Back Street Life" written by Takeo Abe that Pat Morita often heard as a child.
According to Pat Morita, he is credited as Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita because the producers wanted to promote his Japanese heritage.
Martin Kove, who played the John Kreese character, was rumored to have replaced Chuck Norris, who allegedly turned down the role of Kreese because he didn't want karate trainers to be shown in an unsympathetic light. Norris has since said he was never offered the role but that if he had been, he would've declined for similar reasons.
The skeleton fight scene endured numerous takes because the actors complained that Fumio Demura (Pat Morita's stunt double) was hitting them too hard, which caused the scene to lose some of the choreography and authenticity. Fumio told the director that if he could use his own students they would get the shot in one take. The director agreed and they shot the fight scene successfully in one take. One of the doubles is a descendant of the legendary "King of the Frontier," Davy Crockett.
The "Crane Technique" while basically fictional, is based on a stance called the crane stance that is used in several traditional Karate kata.
Charlie Sheen turned down the role of Daniel LaRusso.
The referee in the final match is Pat E. Johnson, a karate expert and former student of Chuck Norris. He instructed many movie stars in karate. He is credited as the "fight instructor/choreographer" for the film.
According to William Zabka, the character he portrays, Johnny, a big bully, still irks many people to this day, many people have tried starting fights and showing him he isn't so tough, to the point he has to convince them that role was specifically written for this movie.
According to Joe Esposito, "You're the Best" was originally written for Rocky III (1982) which explains the lyric "History repeats itself". The song had been rejected in favor of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger". Ironically, Survivor also performed the theme song ("The Moment Of Truth") for The Karate Kid.
The legendary Toshirô Mifune auditioned for the role of Mister Miyagi. Although he was great in the audition (according to director John G. Avildsen in the DVD Commentary), it was felt that his version of Miyagi was "too serious" and played much like the samurai warriors he played in the Akira Kurosawa movies and he was turned down.
According to the commentary track on the home video versions of the movie, William Zabka came up with a loose backstory for the Johnny Lawrence character, in order to better "get the feel" for playing the character. He states in the commentary that he envisioned Johnny as having no father, and that Kreese is the closest thing to a father figure he had in his life.
Pat Morita was initially turned-down for the role of Mr. Miyagi because there was a "no comedian" policy when looking for an actor. He was later given the role because he was best for it after reading.
Karate Kid was the name of a character in DC Comic's "Legion Of Superheroes" who was a member of the Legion. DC Comics, which owned the name, gave special permission for the title to be used. There's a thank you to DC Comics for allowing the use of the name at the end of the credits.
According to Martin Kove in the DVD Documentary, he had gotten a call from John G. Avildsen stating that they wanted him to audition for Kreese but was then told to wait. Kove wanted the role so much that he turned down other prospects in order to get this part. But when the "waiting" dragged out for a few weeks, Kove became annoyed as he kept turning down parts. Finally when Avildsen called Kove in to audition, Kove was so annoyed at Avildsen that he berated the director and channeled his anger into an intense audition. Ultimately, that intensity got him the role.
The long, continuous shot from the moment Daniel exits the locker room at the tournament until the panoramic view of the entire gymnasium took over 35 takes to get right, according to Ralph Macchio.
Mr. Miyagi's medal is the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. It is easily recognizable by its blue ribbon and the inscription containing the word "valor." In real life, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team had 21 Medal of Honor awardees, including Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. Its members also received 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, and 9,486 Purple Hearts.
Pat Morita's portrayal of Mr. Miyagi was heavily influenced by karate master Fumio Demura. Morita spent a lot of time with Demura, who doubled him for his fight scenes, and translated not only Demura's attitude towards the martial arts to the character, but also his mannerisms and speech.
William Zabka (Johnny) had no martial arts experience prior to being cast in the film, except being an accomplished wrestler.
Former screenwriter Dennis Palumbo has said that he was offered the screen writing job for the film but reacted to the offer by saying he'd be "willing to do it if he (the title character, Daniel Larusso) lost the fight in the end." Palumbo explained his reasoning: "You can't have Mr. Miyagi tell him, 'It doesn't matter if you win or lose,' for 90 minutes and then have to have him win." Palumbo went on to say, "But that's because I was being a moron... Now, they made four sequels to that movie, so obviously I was wrong." (Palumbo's remarks appear in Tales from the Script (2009).)
In real life, Pat Morita did not talk with the heavy Japanese accent that he uses in the film as Mr. Miyagi. He can be heard talking in his "normal" voice on many of the DVD featurettes.
Mr. Miyagi is named for Chogun Miyagi, who became the forerunner of karate-jutsu in Okinawa, Japan. 'Sensei Miyagi' as he was called, created his own style of karate-jutsu, which he dubbed 'Goju Ryu', which means 'hard and soft style'.
Kyle Eastwood auditioned for the role of Daniel LaRusso. When he failed to get the part, his father Clint Eastwood retaliated by banning all Coca-Cola products from the sets of his movies (Columbia Studios who made The Karate Kid (1984) was owned by Coca-Cola at the time).
Mako was considered for the role of Mr Miyagi but was committed to making Conan the Destroyer (1984) at the time. (He would subsequently play a similar role in Sidekicks (1992).)
Fight choreographer Pat E. Johnson was so impressed by the martial arts skills of Ron Thomas that he allowed him to choreograph his own fights.
The beach scene was the first scene filmed.
Director John G. Avildsen had to climb to the top of the water tower in the opening shot to achieve the angle of Daniel and his mother driving away.
Mr. Miyagi is depicted as a Medal of Honor recipient. Due to rampant racism among the U.S. Army's high command, no living Japanese-Americans were awarded the medal for service in World War II, and were given less prestigious medals instead. This was not corrected until an investigation in 2000, making Mr. Miyagi a Medal of Honor recipient in 1984 an anachronism.
There are two actors in the film with 2 degrees of separation from Bruce Lee.

Pat E. Johnson, who plays the referee, was in Enter the Dragon (1973). Although he does not appear on screen with Lee, Johnson played a mobster who tries to rough up Roper.

Chad McQueen, who plays Dutch, is the son of 'Steve McQueen' (I) (qv, who was a close friend of Lee and also one of the pall bearers at his funeral.
Despite the fact that the note telling Mr. Miyagi about his wife and son was written in November of 1944, Pat Morita himself was only 12 years old in November, 1944.
The climactic karate tournament involved over 500 extras.
The Swedish liberal party Folkpartiet referred to this film in their campaign during the 2010 elections: they proposed a mentoring program for young and new employees. One of their posters read: No Daniel-san without Mr. Miyagi".
The football jersey that Daniel is wearing while talking to Mr. Miyagi on the bed is a #89 San Diego Chargers jersey, which in 1984 would have been wide receiver Wes Chandler.
Elisabeth Shue actually grew up playing soccer. She played with the boys as long as she could before finally taking up gymnastics.
Kyle Eastwood auditioned for the role of Daniel LaRusso.
Daniel never finished painting the house or cleaning up.
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According to black belt karate instructor William (Bill) J. DeClemente in "Black Belt" magazine dated May 1994, DeClemente believed he was the inspiration for The Karate Kid (1984) character. He was 17 years old when he started training in karate in 1963 in Queens, New York, the same neighborhood where screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen started training in karate in 1965. Kamen came to watch DeClemente teach in 1965 before enrolling at a karate school in Queens taught by Ed McGrath. Kamen has acknowledged in a sworn deposition that the tough ex-marine he depicted as John Kreese in the film was patterned after Ed McGrath, who was also a friend of DeClemente. DeClemente also said Kamen probably based Mr. Miyagi after Okinawan karate legend Chojun Miyagi. However, Kamen refused to acknowledge DeClemente as the basis of the karate kid character, in which DeClemente is the owner of the registered nationally trademark name "The Karate Kid" since the mid-1960s and was known locally in Queens, Brooklyn, and Florida and to his business associates. This led to DeClemente suing Columbia Pictures Industries, Jerry Weintraub Productions, and Jerry Weintraub on July 29, 1994 for trademark infringement, violation of his right of publicity claims, and seeking damages for three Karate Kid films. [Case: DeClemente v. Columbia Pictures, 860 F. Supp. 30 (E.D.N.Y. 1994)]. DeClement's case was dismissed, ruling in favor of the defendants. The court viewed the films did not damage the plaintiff, DeClemente, in a legal sense and that his public personality as the Karate Kid was not notorious enough that the public identified him exclusively with this persona as well as no evidence adduced that the defendants knew the plaintiff, until the year 1990. On his official website, DeClemente still maintains the claim that he is the inspiration for screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen of the films that bears his registered nationally trademarked name, "The Karate Kid".
Daniel's original last name in the script was "Webber" according to the DVD commentary.
Johnny Lawrence's name was originally Donald Rice
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The 500th film mixed in the Dolby Stereo format.
Jerry Weintraub did not want Pat Morita for the role to audition for Miyagi because he was a comedian and that he wouldn't be taken seriously in the role. But Morita auditioned and Weintraub was impressed and decided to give him the role and had felt that he had almost made the biggest mistake of his film, by not casting Morita as Miyagi.
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The characters Kreese and Daniel never once speak directly to each other throughout the entire trilogy. They have a brief interaction in the third film, but Kreese is just yelling gibberish at Daniel and therefore not technically speaking to him.
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Martin Cove (Kreese) is depicted as a Vietnam veteran. Coincidentally, Martin also plays a Vietnam veteran (Ericson) in Rambo First Blood Part II. Both characters demeanor are exactly the same as well, selling to the Hollywood realm of a characters timeline.
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