Responding to recent criticism that 1984’s “Karate Kid” was “too white” and didn’t delve enough into the Japanese cultural aspects of the discipline, film star Ralph Macchio last week called the story transition to adulthood “ahead of its time”. .”
“People said it was a very white cast, that it didn’t dive into Asian history,” Macchio, 60, told Stellar Magazine. “But I always say this: The movie was ahead of its time because it was a popcorn movie about Japanese internment camps during World War II.”
The former child actor, who is promoting his new memoir ‘Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me,’ added that late co-star Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita said he got his Oscar nomination for the film due to the scene in which it is revealed that he lost his wife and son in one of the camps.
“Pat himself spent two years in the camps,” Macchio explained. “So it had a double meaning and a certain depth.”
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Macchio said the Oscar-worthy scene was almost cut from the film, but was saved by fans.
“The studio’s main concern was that with the film running over two hours, they would be wasting daily screening time, and essentially, money in the process,” he said. “They all shut up once we screened it for them with an audience.”
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The powerful scene halfway through the film shows Mr. Miyagi still sober, drunk and desperately emotional as he struggles to come to terms with the memories of his wife and son on his birthday. Macchio’s character, who puts his sensei to bed after passing out, discovers that Miyagi’s wife and son died in childbirth in 1944.
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And while the first “Karate Kid” was set in California, the second in 1986 revolved around Macchio’s character, Daniel, spending time with his sensei at his Okinawa childhood home.
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Macchio, who did not appear in Will Smith’s 2008 remake of the film, currently stars in the show “Cobra Kai” in which he plays Daniel as an adult.