The Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio known for the hard training that its headbanded hero Daniel LaRusso underwent, was the sixth-biggest movie in the UK in 1984.
Compared to Romancing the Stone, Splash, and Oscar-winning Best Picture winner Terms of Endearment, it costs more money. It was listed among the top sports movies of all time by USA Today, The Bleacher Report, and Vulture.
Ralph Macchio, who played Daniel, is explaining his theory as he speaks from his home on Long Island, only a few dojos from where he grew up.
He tells BBC Breakfast that the characters “worked on a human level that spans location, time, and generations.”
Bullying, granting wishes, mentoring, overcoming challenges, single parenting, and establishing a new life in a new location. All of these ideas are still relevant today.
They have reverberated more than his crane kick to Johnny Lawrence’s face after The Karate Kid.
The Yoda-like tutor from the films, Mr. Miyagi, inspired the name of the Miyagi-verse, which has since grown.
The original film trilogy was followed by a 1994 remake that helped start Hilary Swank’s career, a Jaden Smith sequel in 2010, and Kobra Cai, a hugely popular streaming series that debuted in 2018.
The show investigates how the characters from the original movies have fared in real life. Five series debuted on Netflix in September and saw 1.7 billion viewing minutes in the first three days.
Fortunately, Ralph Macchio is a man who is completely at ease with what people demand from him.
He may have appeared on Broadway opposite Robert DeNiro, worked with Francis Ford Coppola on The Outsiders, and beat off Will Smith for the part of Bill in the Oscar-winning My Cousin Vinny, but he is fully aware that The Karate Kid will always be his most well-known performance.
This is why he decided to create a book that examines The Karate Kid’s legacy, its ongoing place in pop culture, and the significant impact it has had in his own life rather than a traditional autobiography.
He chuckles as he describes the ironically named Waxing On as “kind of the anti-memoir.” It’s not your typical crash and burns, sink to the depths, and rise again a tale of salvation.
“It’s more of a celebration of that movie, what it’s meant for almost 40 years, and what it’s been like to walk in those shoes through the highs and lows, the prosperous and unsuccessful periods.”
And if one of Mr. Miyagi’s bonsai trees were left in the desert, those dry periods would have become much drier.
In the middle of the 1990s, Macchio almost completely stopped being cast in acting roles as the entertainment industry found it difficult to distinguish him from Daniel LaRusso.
His youthful appearance was an additional issue. It’s still difficult for people to imagine he was only 22 when he directed The Karate Kid. He is today a startlingly youthful-looking 61 years old.
“I’ve had it my entire life, and it’s both a blessing and a curse. Now that I’m older than 60, it’s less of a curse,” he claims.
“I attribute the good genes to my parents. Everyone believed my grandma to be 10 to 15 years younger than they actually were.
However, in the middle of the 1990s, Macchio must have been the only Hollywood celebrity who actively sought to appear older than they were.
In addition, he was required to complete a three-film Karate contract, so he had to decline the part in Sidney Lumet’s Running on Empty, which earned River Phoenix an Oscar nomination.
Without any resentment, he explains, “Once I graduated out of that, I could not go into the next class, if you will.
The difficult times were a blessing in hindsight for Macchio, who now views them as “beyond lovely” because they allowed him the time to raise his two children.
Additionally, he is a rare example of a successful showbiz marriage. Between Karate Kids II and III, in 1987, he married his childhood girlfriend Phyllis. The two are still together, and they even named their son Daniel—though not entirely in the Karate Kid’s honor.
“My wife always wanted to name a boy Daniel because her best buddy from childhood had that name.
I thought, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, it comes with some baggage. Now 27 years old, he still goes by the name Dan, but he takes tremendous pride in it.
Even if he was unhappy with the course his career had taken, Macchio decided never to disparage the Karate Kid movies.
“I was aware of how crucial that position was to people’s lives. People have come up to me with tears almost pouring in their eyes and said, “This movie gave me hope. It transformed my life. It was the movie I watched with my grandfather every other weekend.
He benefited from his understanding of how much the Karate Kid meant to so many people.
Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, talked about how The Karate Kid has always been a tragedy in an episode of the American sitcom How I Met Your Mother from 2009.
Ralph Macchio claimed that when he was younger, he supported Daniel’s adversary Johnny Lawrence because he saw Daniel as a bully who used an illegal crane kick.
This developed into a recurring joke, culminating in the appearance of both Macchio and William Zabka (who played Johnny) in a Barney’s Stag Do episode.
The theory gained traction. Fans of the Karate Kid began showing up at comic cons wearing t-shirts to show their support for Johnny.
The creators of the American movies Harold and Kumar and Hot Tub Time Machine then approached Macchio in 2016. To investigate what it would be like for Johnny to find atonement, they asked him whether he would like to star in the television series Cobra Kai.
The Rocky series film Creed, which had just been released, gave the actor the motivation to say yes. It was similar to viewing the world through Apollo Creed’s son’s eyes in Rocky Balboa.
Director of the original Rocky and the Karate Kid trilogy John G. Avildsen has always seen a connection between the two movie series.
A mashup movie involving a fight between Rocky’s son and The Karate Kid’s son had even been proposed.
According to Ralph Macchio, the show is about “the delight of tapping into the 1980s and carrying that nostalgia along, while crafting storylines that are relevant for the present.”
Two YouTube series were produced before Netflix decided to air them during the pandemic.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the most recent series has a 100% rating and is “graduating to a black belt mastery in passionate melodrama and clever humor.”
According to Macchio, “It was difficult to play a version of Daniel that might not have been exactly what I would have written.” He always possessed a certain air of arrogance and a quick temper. But Cobra Kai multiplied this by ten.
It is difficult to find anything that he will complain about, but The Karate Kid as a title is one thing he has never liked.
The film’s producer, Jerry Weintraub, is quoted as saying, “It’s a bad title, which makes it a fantastic one,” which makes him giggle.
“When you’re a young actor, you’ll want to be De Niro or Olivier. Shakespearean titles are what you desire for your writing. Additionally, I had a script for “The Karate Kid.”
Ralph Macchio couldn’t be happier that he accomplished it 38 years later.
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