You might want to crane your neck while reading this childhood-shattering fact. The crane kick that Mr. Miyagi demonstrated to Daniel LaRusso became central and pivotal to the plot of the Karate Kid as LaRusso spent most of the movie perfecting it.
At forty-eight years old and not a professional karateka himself, the production crew decided that it was far too risky for Pat to stand on the pole and instead got a stunt double to don a bald cap and create the seminal movie moment.
Mr. Miyagi’s Very American Accent
Pat Morita was cast as the indomitable Mr. Miyagi who, in the movie, hailed from Okinawa in Japan. Morita, however, did not hail from Japan and hailed from the very American state of California.
Morita’s Japanese accent was put on. Though having Japanese parents did, of course, give Morita the edge when impersonating the accent. In fact, fans were shocked to hear Morita’s original speaking voice.
Ralph Macchio Crane Kicks Sheen and Cage at the Audition
A string of actors that happen to be big names today was reputed to be in line for the role of Daniel LaRusso. Names such as Tom Cruise and 80’s golden child Emilio Estevez have cropped up in the Karate Kid casting history. Perhaps that should be mythology depending on who you ask...
Two names that were serious contenders were the up-and-coming Robert Downey Junior (who was yet to make his big break) and Nicolas Cage (who was already on his way to becoming a household name).
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.