30 Sweeping Facts About The Karate Kid

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

You'd better start practicing those crane kicks again! More than 30 years after Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence faced off in one of cinema's most iconic showdowns, The Karate Kid is making a comeback. A sequel to the hit 1984 film (which has already spawned a few sequels, plus a remake) is making its way to YouTube Red as a new series, currently titled Cobra Kai, with both Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles.

According to Variety, "The 10-episode, half-hour series, coming to YouTube Red in 2018, picks up 30 years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament. A down-and-out Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi."

While we await more detail on the series, let's take a look back at the movie that started it all.

1. PAT MORITA WAS INITIALLY TURNED DOWN FOR THE ROLE OF MR. MIYAGI.

In the early 1980’s, Pat Morita was best known for his comedic work as Arnold, the restaurant owner on Happy Days. According to the 2013 book The Films of John G. Avildsen, Morita was Avildsen’s first choice for Miyagi; however, producer Jerry Weintraub felt that audiences would not take him seriously in the role due to his background in comedy. After Morita grew a beard and added a Japanese accent to his screen test, an impressed Weintraub had a change of heart and Morita was given the part.

2. DANIEL LARUSSO WAS ORIGINALLY DANIEL WEBBER.

Wait. What?!? It sounds blasphemous, but in original versions of The Karate Kid script, Daniel LaRusso's last name was Webber.

3. JOHNNY LAWRENCE WAS DONALD RICE.

While we’re at it, let’s get this out of the way, too: Johnny Lawrence’s name was originally Donald Rice.

4. "YOU’RE THE BEST" WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR A DIFFERENT MOVIE.

Although "You're the Best" will be forever tied to the montage of fight scenes during the All-Valley Karate Tournament, Joe Esposito’s song was originally written by Bill Conti and Allee Willis to be used in Rocky III. It was ultimately replaced with Survivor’s "Eye of the Tiger." Esposito revealed this information in a 2008 interview on the Adam Carolla Show where he said that "You're the Best" was turned down for use in the movie Flashdance as well, and was replaced with Michael Sembello’s "Maniac." The '80s truly had an embarrassment of riches when it came to montage songs.

5. FREDDY REALLY DID TAKE A SOCCER BALL TO THE FACE.

As Daniel and his new friends play soccer on the beach, his eye is caught by Ali Mills, the beautiful blonde from the Hills. Coolly trying to impress her, Daniel shows off his soccer skills only to have the ball knocked away by Freddy (played by Israel Juarbe). Watching closely, you’ll see that poor Freddy takes a direct hit to the face as he brings Daniel back to reality.

6. DANIEL’S ICONIC SHOWER COSTUME IS FORESHADOWED IN MIYAGI’S WORKSHOP.


YouTube

At the Halloween dance, Daniel mentions that his shower costume was made by a friend. The assumption that he’s referring to Mr. Miyagi is confirmed in the previous scene where parts of the shower costume can been seen hanging in the background as Miyagi prepares jack-o-lanterns in his workshop.

7. MANY OF THE FILM'S LOCATIONS ARE STILL INTACT AND LOOK MOSTLY THE SAME.


Google Maps/Columbia Pictures

A few sources provide fascinating photos of the current state of many filming locations used in The Karate Kid. For the most part, these California-based locations are still recognizable and look very much the same as they did back in the mid-1980s. For a complete look at these filming locations, visit itsfilmedthere.com or the Karate Kid Site at fast-rewind.com.

8. IT TOOK A WHILE TO DISCOVER THE FILMING LOCATION FOR MR. MIYAGI’S HOUSE.


YouTube

Although most filming locations from The Karate Kid had been found long ago, Mr. Miyagi’s house eluded avid location hunters for a long time.

Taking the art of finding filming locations to a whole new level, in 2014, one fan did some major sleuthing to finally confirm the location of Mr. Miyagi’s house, which was demolished in the late 1980s. 

9. MR. MIYAGI’S WORKSHOP WAS ACTUALLY A PARKING LOT.


Google Maps/Columbia Pictures

While the apartment complex itself looks very much the same in real life as it does in the film, one exception is the portion representing Mr. Miyagi's workshop. Opening to the exterior of the building, this area of the complex was actually an open parking area which was walled off for the sake of the film. Comparing a shot from the film to an image taken from Google Maps Street View, this transformation is very clear.

10. TWO RUN-INS WITH JOHNNY WERE DELETED FROM THE FILM’S FINAL CUT.

The original Karate Kid script includes two confrontations between Daniel and Johnny which were eventually cut from the film. The first takes place in the school cafeteria, just after Daniel has bought lunch for Ali. Seeing them about to take a seat, Johnny hurries over just in time to sneak a piece of blueberry pie onto Daniel’s chair. Standing up with his pants covered in blueberries, Daniel is equally embarrassed and livid. In a brave act of revenge, Daniel smears what is left of the pie across Johnny’s shirt and mayhem ensues. A photo from this scene can be found on the back of the B.B. Hiller novelization of The Karate Kid.


Amazon

The other scene occurs later in the film and also takes place at school. Coming up from a drink at the fountain, Daniel finds himself face to face with Johnny and stands up for himself once again by questioning the practices of the Cobra Kai.


Columbia Pictures

The original script reveals this exchange:

Daniel: We both know you can kick my ass seven ways from Sunday. So why do you still bother?
Johnny: Maybe ‘cause I like to.
Daniel: You ever think he might be wrong?
Johnny: Who?
Daniel: Your teacher.
Johnny: Watch your mouth, asshole.

11. MR. MIYAGI GAVE DANIEL A SWEET RIDE.


Columbia Pictures

Casual viewers of The Karate Kid know that Mr. Miyagi gives Daniel a cool yellow car for his birthday. Classic car enthusiasts may recognize this smooth ride as a 1948 Ford Super DeLuxe Club convertible.

12. CHUCK NORRIS DID NOT DECLINE THE ROLE OF JOHN KREESE.

It is widely rumored that Chuck Norris was initially considered for the part of Cobra Kai Sensei John Kreese, but turned down the role as he did not want to be associated with a character that represented martial arts in such a cruel and aggressive way. Norris has stated that he was never offered this role but likely would have turned it down for these reasons if he had been. Likewise, director John Avildsen does not recall Norris being offered the role.

13. SENSEI KREESE WAS A MILITARY VETERAN.

Upon Daniel’s first visit to the Cobra Kai dojo, he is faced with a wall full of awards recognizing the accomplishments of the students and their sensei. Among the plaques and trophies is a photograph showing Sensei Kreese wearing full military fatigues and recognizing him as “Karate Champion” and a U.S. Army captain from 1970-1972. Kreese’s military service is referenced again later in the Karate Kid trilogy when viewers are introduced to Terry Silver—a Vietnam veteran and successor to Kreese as the Cobra Kai sensei.

14. DANIEL WENT TO WEST VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL.


YouTube

Although the name of Daniel's school is never mentioned in the film, it is subtly referenced in a scene at his locker, just before he tells Ali about the "agreement" he has made with the Cobra Kai. A sticker inside the locker door suggests that Daniel attends West Valley High School.

15. ROCKET COMPUTERS WENT BANKRUPT.

Daniel and his mother moved to California as a result of her new job with Rocket Computers (“Flight to the future!”). The original script reveals why Freddy had “never heard of it” and also sheds some light on why it seems that Mrs. LaRusso might be an employee of the restaurant across from the Cobra Kai dojo.

As she shares with Daniel:

“They went bankrupt!...[But] listen to this. I walk out of Rocket with the beginning of Excedrin headache one through ten about to come on, and I’m going back to the car when this woman comes flying out of this restaurant, The Orient Express, and she’s screaming, ‘I quit! I quit!’ Right behind her is this guy and he’s yelling just as loud, ‘You can’t quit! You’re fired!’ It’s one minute to noon, people are coming in to lunch, I’m the first but only applicant — I got the job!”

When Daniel questions her new position as a waitress, his mother clarifies that she is not a waitress. She is a hostess.

16. MRS. LARUSSO READS VINTAGE MAGAZINES.

Mr. Miyagi stops by the LaRusso's apartment to fix the faucet and finds Daniel practicing karate. While Miyagi was surprised that Daniel was trying to learn karate from a book, it is also surprising that the magazine underneath the book was published in April 1969.

I guess this then-15-year-old Easter issue of Family Circle explains the bunny cake clipping seen hanging on the refrigerator door (although it doesn’t explain why the LaRussos were planning for Easter in September).

17. PAT MORITA DID NOT PERFORM THE CRANE KICK.

The tournament semi-finalists included Johnny Lawrence, Bobby Brown, Daniel LaRusso, and a character credited only as "Karate Semi-Finalist," played by black belt Darryl Vidal. Vidal shows off some flashy moves before being eliminated by Johnny, who advances to face Daniel in the final.

Vidal is now a 10th degree black belt and one of the most respected teachers in the sport. His involvement with The Karate Kid was not limited to the action seen in the tournament. Earlier, in one of the most memorable scenes from the film, Mr. Miyagi performs the crane kick from atop a wooden post on the beach as Daniel observes from a distance.

But it was not actually Morita on the post—it was Darryl Vidal, serving as his stunt double. These details are confirmed in the DVD commentary track and Vidal himself provided this information to the Karate Kid Site at fast-rewind.com: "I am the stunt double for the scene where Mr. Miyagi is on the post on the beach. It isn't noted in the cast list at the end where I am just listed as the semi-finalist. I am dressed in a body-suit, and bald-head wig."

18. DANIEL AND HIS FRIENDS HAVE AMAZING T-SHIRTS.


YouTube

Although Daniel hides his “No More Mr. Nice Guy” tee under a button-up, Freddy proudly wears his “Makin’ Bacon” shirt for all the world to see.

19. HAPPY GILMORE’S GRANDMA LIVES IN DANIEL’S APARTMENT BUILDING.


YouTube

Entering his new apartment building for the first time, Daniel stops to speak with a woman who reveals she is from Parsippany, New Jersey. Moments later, she provides Daniel with some less-than-clear directions to Mr. Miyagi’s workshop. You may recognize her as Frances Bay—the character actress who played Happy Gilmore’s grandmother.

20. A BAND FROM THE SOUNDTRACK APPEARS IN THE MOVIE.

The Karate Kid soundtrack includes the song "No Shelter" by the band Broken Edge. The band can be seen in the film playing on stage at the Halloween dance.

21. PAT JOHNSON WAS AN EXPERT, A REFEREE, AND A TOY

Pat Johnson was responsible for the choreography of The Karate Kid's fight scenes. Johnson, a well-known karate expert, also played the part of the referee in the film's final match. When the Remco line of Karate Kid action figures hit shelves in 1986, a figure based on Johnson as the tournament official was included in the Competition Center set.

22. THE KARATE KID INCLUDES SOME FAMOUS FAMILY TIES.


YouTube

Dutch, a member of the Cobra Kai, was played by Chad McQueen—on of legendary actor Steve McQueen.

Early in the film, Freddy invites Daniel to a beach party with his friends. Among those friends was Chucky, played by Frank Burt Avalon, who happens to be the son of singer and beach film veteran Frankie Avalon.


YouTube

At the Halloween dance, Daniel has a raw egg smashed on his head by a guy dressed as a chicken. The chicken boy was played by Todd Lookinland—brother of Mike Lookinland, Bobby of Brady Bunch fame.

Larry Drake, later of L.A. Law, is credited as "Yahoo #2," and you may also recognize Larry Scott from the original Revenge of the Nerds in the role of Jerry.

Lastly, although uncredited, actor Andrew Shue appears briefly as an arbitrary member of the Cobra Kai. He is the brother of Ali Mills herself, Elisabeth Shue.

23. IT'S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEONE BRUISES HIS CHIN


YouTube

In the DVD commentary, Ralph Macchio suggests that the bruise seen on his chin is real—a result of a roundhouse kick that struck him during the Halloween night fight against some teens dressed up in skeleton costumes.

24. PAT MORITA'S GIVEN NAME IS USED IN THE CREDITS.

As previously mentioned, Morita was well-known prior to The Karate Kid for his comedy work on several TV shows, including a recurring stint as Ah Chew on Sanford and Son. Producer Jerry Weintraub suggested that Morita's credit in the film include his given name—Noriyuki—so as to sound more "ethnic." Therefore, the role of Mr. Miyagi is credited to Noriyuki "Pat" Morita.

25. THE TOURNAMENT VICTORY WAS NOT THE END.

The Karate Kid was not intended to conclude with Daniel's victory over Johnny at the tournament. The opening scene in the sequel The Karate Kid Part II, which sees a parking lot confrontation between Kreese and Miyagi, was the original film's original ending. Both B.B. Hiller's novelization of the film and early copies of the script conclude with Miyagi tweaking Kreese's nose and the members of the Cobra Kai dropping their belts around their defeated leader.

26. DANIEL SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED ... MAYBE.

In an amazing breakdown written for overthinkingit.com, Matthew Belinkie considers the legality of the crane kick within the rules of a typical karate competition. According to Belinkie, competition rules prohibit participants from striking their opponent using "full power."

Going on to discuss this matter with an expert in karate competition, he confirms that in most cases, Daniel would have been disqualified as a result of the maneuver.

27. MANY OF THE ACTORS ARE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

Several of the original cast members are active on social media sites. Ralph Macchio chimes in on Twitter along with Martin Kove, William Zabka, and Tony O’Dell. On Facebook, Ron Thomas actively promotes his real-life dojo and martial arts training. If you follow any of these guys, you’re sometimes treated to behind-the-scenes gems like this.

28. THE MAIN CAST REUNITED FOR AN AWESOME MUSIC VIDEO.

What do you get when you combine Dennis Haskins from Saved By the Bell, the core of The Karate Kid cast, and the band No More Kings? You get the amazing 2007 music video for a song called "Sweep the Leg."

29. RALPH MACCHIO HAS POKED FUN AT HIS ENDURING KARATE KID CHARACTER.

In 2010, Ralph Macchio appeared in a video for Funny or Die as he humorously attempted to shed his "good guy" image.

30. A COMPLETE REHEARSAL OF THE FILM IS AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE.

Hold on to your seats, Karate Kid fans. If you weren't aware of this already, prepare to have your minds blown. An entire rehearsal of The Karate Kid is available to view on YouTube. Included in the run-through are several dialogue variations and a few scenes that didn't make it to the final cut of the film. If you're a diehard Karate Kid fan, you'll definitely want to check this out for yourself.

New Jersey's Anthony Bourdain Food Trail Has Opened

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Before Anthony Bourdain was a world-famous chef, author, or food and travel documentarian, he was just another kid growing up in New Jersey. Earlier this year, Food & Wine reported that Bourdain's home state would honor the late television personality with a food trail tracing his favorite restaurants. And that trail is now open.

Bourdain was born in New York City in 1956, and spent most of childhood living in Leonia, New Jersey. He often revisited the Garden State in his books and television shows, highlighting the state's classic diners and delis and the seafood shacks of the Jersey shore.

Immediately following Bourdain's tragic death on June 8, 2018, New Jersey assemblyman Paul Moriarty proposed an official food trail featuring some of his favorite eateries. The trail draws from the New Jersey episode from season 5 of the CNN series Parts Unknown. In it, Bourdain traveled to several towns throughout the state, including Camden, Atlantic City, and Asbury Park, and sampled fare like cheesesteaks, salt water taffy, oysters, and deep-fried hot dogs.

The food trail was approved following a unanimous vote in January, and the trail was officially inaugurated last week. Among the stops included on the trail:

  1. Frank's Deli // Asbury Park
  1. Knife and Fork Inn // Atlantic City
  1. Dock's Oyster House // Atlantic City
  1. Tony's Baltimore Grill // Atlantic City
  1. James' Salt Water Taffy // Atlantic City
  1. Lucille's Country Cooking // Barnegat
  1. Tony & Ruth Steaks // Camden
  1. Donkey's Place // Camden
  2. Hiram's Roadstand // Fort Lee

10 Sweet Facts About Napoleon Dynamite

© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox
© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

ChapStick, llamas, and tater tots are just a few things that appear in Napoleon Dynamite, a cult film shot for a mere $400,000 that went on to gross $44.5 million. In 2002, Brigham Young University film student Jared Hess filmed a black-and-white short, Peluca, with his classmate Jon Heder. The film got accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival, which gave Hess the courage to adapt it into a feature. Hess used his real-life upbringing in Preston, Idaho—he had six brothers and his mom owned llamas—to form the basis of the movie, about a nerdy teenager named Napoleon (Heder) who encourages his friend Pedro (Efren Ramirez) to run for class president.

In 2004, the indie film screened at Sundance, and was quickly purchased by Fox Searchlight and Paramount, then released less than six months later. Today, the film remains so popular that in 2016 Pedro and Napoleon reunited for a cheesy tots Burger King commercial. To celebrated the film's 15th anniversary, here are some facts about the ever-quotable comedy.

1. Deb is based on Jerusha Hess.

Jared Hess’s wife Jerusha co-wrote the film and based Deb on her own life. “Her mom made her a dress when she was going to a middle school dance and she said, ‘I hadn’t really developed yet, so my mom overcompensated and made some very large, fluffy shoulders,’” Jared told Rolling Stone. “Some guy dancing with her patted the sleeves and actually said, ‘I like your sleeves … they’re real big.'"

Tina Majorino, who played the fictional Deb, hadn’t done a comedy before, because people thought of her as a dramatic actress. "The fact that Jared would even let me come in and read really appealed to me," she told Rolling Stone. "Even if I didn’t get the role, I just wanted to see what it was like to audition for a comedy, as I’d never done it before."

2. Napoleon's famous dance scene was the result of having extra film stock.

At the end of shooting Peluca, Hess had a minute of film stock left and knew Heder liked to dance. Heder had on moon boots—something Hess used to wear—so they traveled to the end of a dirt road. They turned on the car radio and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat” was playing. “I just told him to start dancing and realized: This is how we’ve got to end the film,” Hess told Rolling Stone. “You don’t anticipate those kinds of things. They’re just part of the creative process.”

Heder told HuffPost he found inspiration in Michael Jackson and dancing in front of a mirror, for the end-of-the-movie skit. But when it came time to film the dance for the feature, Heder felt "pressure" to deliver. “I was like, ‘Oh, crap!’ This isn’t just a silly little scene,” he told PDX Monthly. “This is the moment where everything comes, and he’s making the sacrifice for his friend. That’s the whole theme of the movie. Everything leads up to this. Napoleon’s been this loser. This has to be the moment where he lands a victory.” Instead of hiring a choreographer, the filmmakers told him to “just figure it out.” They filmed the scene three times with three different songs, including Jamiroquai’s “Little L” and “Canned Heat.”

3. Napoleon Dynamitefans still flock to Preston, Idaho to tour the movie's locations.

In a 2016 interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, The Preston Citizen’s circulation manager, Rhonda Gregerson, said “every summer at least 50 groups of fans walk into the office wanting to know more about the film.” She said people come from all over the world to see Preston High School, Pedro’s house, and other filming locations as a layover before heading to Yellowstone National Park. “If you talk to a lot of people in Preston, you’ll find a lot of people who have become a bit sick of it,” Gregerson said. “I still think it’s great that there’s still so much interest in the town this long after the movie.”

Besides the filming locations, the town used to host a Napoleon Dynamite festival. In 2005, the fest drew about 6000 people and featured a tater tot eating contest, a moon boot dancing contest, boondoggle keychains for sale, and a tetherball tournament. The fest was last held in 2008.

4. Idaho adopted a resolution commending the filmmakers.

'Napoleon Dynamite' filmmakers Jerusha and Jared Hess
Jerusha and Jared Hess
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

In 2005, the Idaho legislature wrote a resolution praising Jared and Jerusha Hess and the city of Preston. HCR029 appreciates the use of tater tots for “promoting Idaho’s most famous export.” It extols bicycling and skateboarding to promote “better air quality,” and it says Kip and LaFawnduh’s relationship “is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho’s technology-driven industry.” The resolution goes on to say those who “vote Nay on this concurrent resolution are Freakin’ Idiots.” Napoleon would be proud.

5. Napoleon was a different kind of nerd.

Sure, he was awkward, but Napoleon wasn’t as intelligent as other film nerds. “He’s not a genius,” Heder told HuffPost. “Maybe he’s getting good grades, but he’s not excelling; he’s just socially awkward. He doesn’t know how much of an outcast he is, and that’s what gives him that confidence. He’s trying to be cool sometimes, but mostly he just goes for it and does it.”

6. The title sequence featured several different sets of hands..

Eight months before the theatrical release, Fox Searchlight had Hess film a title sequence that made it clear that the film took place in 2004, not in the ’80s or ’90s. Napoleon’s student ID reveals the events occur during the 2004-2005 school year. Heder’s hands move the objects in and out of the frame, but Fox didn’t like his hangnails. “They flew out a hand model a couple weeks later, who had great hands, but was five or six shades darker than Jon Heder,” Hess told Art of the Title. “If you look, there are like three different dudes’ hands—our producer’s are in there, too.”

7. Napoleon Dynamite messed up Netflix's algorithms.

Beginning in 2006, Cinematch—Netflix’s recommendation algorithm software—held a contest called The Netflix Prize. Anyone who could make Cinematch’s predictions at least 10 percent more accurate would win $1 million. Computer scientist Len Bertoni had trouble predicting whether people would like Napoleon Dynamite. Bertoni told The New York Times the film is “polarizing,” and the Netflix ratings are either one or five stars. If he could accurately predict whether people liked the movie, Bertoni said, then he’d come much closer to winning the prize. That didn’t happen for him.

The contest finally ended in 2009 when Netflix awarded the grand prize to BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos, who developed a 10.06 percent improvement over Cinematch’s score.

8. Napoleon accidentally got a bad perm.


© 2004 Twentieth Century Fox

Heder got his hair permed the night before shooting began—but something went wrong. Heder called Jared and said, “‘Yeah, I got the perm but it’s a little bit different than it was before,’” Hess told Rolling Stone. “He showed up the night before shooting and he looked like Shirley Temple! The curls were huge!” They didn’t have much time to fix the goof, so Hess enlisted Jerusha and her cousin to re-perm it. It worked, but Jon wasn’t allowed to wash his hair for the next three weeks. “So he had this stinky ‘do in the Idaho heat for three weeks,” Jared said. “We were shooting near dairy farms and there were tons of flies; they were all flying in and out of his hair.”

9. LaFawnduh's real-life family starred in the film.

Shondrella Avery played LaFawnduh, the African American girlfriend of Kip, Napoleon’s older brother (played by Aaron Ruell). Before filming, Hess phoned Avery and said, “‘You remember that there were no black people in Preston, Idaho, right? Do you think your family might want to be in the movie?’ And that’s how it happened,” Avery told Los Angeles Weekly. Her actual family shows up at the end when LaFawnduh and Kip get married.

10. A short-lived animated series acted as a sequel.

In 2012, Fox aired six episodes of Napoleon Dynamite the animated series before they canceled it. All of the original actors returned to supply voices to their characters. The only difference between the film and the series is Kip is not married. Heder told Rolling Stone the episodes are as close to a sequel as fans will get. “If you sit down and watch those back to back, you’ve got yourself a sequel,” he said. “Because you’ve got all the same characters and all the same actors.”

This story has been updated for 2019.

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