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.
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.
No Life Jackets
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.
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!”
The Cobra Clique
It appears that some cast members took method acting to the next level. Director John Avildsen very intentionally blocked out reading and rehearsal times to keep a divide between the characters.
For the Cobra Kai gang, Avildsen would have them rehearse together and bond together. They were intentionally kept apart from Ralph Macchio and over the rehearsal weeks bonded in what William Zabka called “a little fraternity”.