During one of Daniel LaRusso’s many, many training sessions, Mr. Miyagi takes him out on a lake where he instructs Daniel to stand on the bow and begin practicing his Karta. Daniel dutifully does so until Mr. Miyagi begins excitedly rocking the boat, causing Daniel to plunge into the freezing water.
As the movie was shot at the end of the year, it was winter in California, and the teeth-chattering, goosebump-inducing flailing was no acting on Ralph Macchio’s part – the water really was that cold.
Alternate Endings Are New Beginnings
The opening scene of the sequel, 'The Karate Kid Part II', shows John Kreese being subdued by Mr. Miyagi at the All Valley tournament. This scene was originally intended to be the final scene in 'The Karate Kid'. In it, Kreese, engulfed with rage and embarrassment, attacks Johnny Lawrence for losing to Daniel LaRusso.
Mr. Miyagi neutralizes Kreese and instead of delivering a lethal blow, pinches Kreese’s nose. The humbling act makes the other Cobra Kai members remove their belts in disrespect for their disgraced sensei.
Ali Finds Football Hotter Than Karate
Elisabeth Shue had intended to return to her studies at Harvard once shooting had wrapped up for 'The Karate Kid'. When the film proved to be an overwhelming box office success, Columbia Pictures immediately called for a sequel.
John Avildsen petitioned for Shue to reprise her role as Ali Mills but Shue, determined to finish her studies, declined. The scriptwriters then wrote in a rather depressing reason for Ali’s departure – she left Daniel LaRusso for a football player.
Mr. Miyagi the Veteran
Military history buffs will appreciate the attention to detail of Mr. Miyagi’s very decorated uniform. Judging by the medals, Mr. Miyagi was an exemplary soldier.
The insignia embroidered on his uniform is that of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, a unit of Japanese-American soldiers that fought for America. This is interesting as the Regiment trained separately due to prejudice laws in America at the time.
William Zabka Strikes Fear
William Zabka used method acting to get into his Johnny Lawrence character even for just the auditioning. Zabka recounts that his persona of being a gang leader meant he had to create a “hostile environment” so he didn’t fraternize with the other auditioners and instead sat in his dad’s car, blasting hard-rock, and only went in when it was reading time.
The method acting was a success because, after his first reading with Ralph Macchio, Macchio said he told the producers that Zabka “scared the s**t out of me!”