Elisabeth Shue was close to completing her degree when the offer to play Ali Mills in ‘The Karate Kid’ was sent her way. It was not a tough decision for Shue who figured that she could put her studies on hold for the six weeks that it would take to shoot the film.
Shue was unaware, however, that her role in ‘The Karate Kid, would set her up to become a highly sought-after A-list actress. She eventually dropped out of studies together to further her acting career.
Mr. Miyagi’s Smile Beats Daniel’s Victory March
Ralph Macchio may have let the title of Karate Kid get to his head a bit. Speaking at a fan meetup in 2016, Ralph stated that his ideal was originally Daniel LaRusso being carried on the shoulders of the adoring crowd after his victory.
This ending was, in fact, shot and set as the ending. John Avildsen had a change of heart decided to reshoot it with a grinning Mr. Miyagi, beaming with pride. Ralph conceded that in hindsight this was the better ending scene.
Pat the Fashion Designer
Pat Morita is handy when it comes to the finer costume details. The famous Tenugui (headband) was Pat’s inspiration and there’s another costume design that was his doing: the bonsai logo on Daniel LaRusso’s gi.
The bonsai-inspired logo was a result of a few words of wisdom Mr. Miyagi bestowed on Daniel: “Only root karate come from Miyagi. Just like bonsai choose own way grow because root strong you choose own way do karate same reason."
Zabka’s Green Belt
While William Zabka seemed to pull off amazingly convincing karate moves in 'The Karate Kid', he was one of the cast members who had absolutely no martial arts training prior to filming. However, unlike Ralpha Macchio, Zabka was hooked by karate and continued studying it, eventually earning himself a green belt.
Zabka, an accomplished high school wrestler, said he felt that wrestling gave the ability to “slide into martial arts training” and further exclaiming that it was “kind of a nice fit.”
It’s amazing how granted the average movie-goer takes CGI nowadays. One of the more legendary scenes in 'The Karate Kid' is Pat Morita instructing Daniel LaRusso to catch a fly using a pair of chopsticks. Ralph Macchio explained what a painstaking process this was as it involved several flies, tying them to fishing lines so as to keep them within the frame.
Eventually, the crew settled on simply switching up camera angles to make it appear as if Daniel had nabbed the critter. Pretty fly for a karate guy?