Ralph Macchio recently defended the “The Karate Kid” from critics who have described the 1984 film as too white.
During a recent interview with Stellar Magazine, Macchio, 60, addressed critics’ claims that the classic movie, which stars the late Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, has a “very white cast” and “that it didn’t dive into the Asian story.”
Responding to the criticism, the “Cobra Kai” star, who plays Daniel LaRusso in the Karate Kid franchise, said that the movie “was ahead of its time because it was a popcorn movie that talked about Japanese internment camps during World War 2.”
Macchio added that Morita “always said the scene” in which his character Mr. Miyagi reveals that he lost his wife and son in an internment camp while inebriated “earned him his Oscar nomination.”
“Pat himself spent two years in the camps. So it had double meaning and some depth,” Macchio continued.
In his memoir “Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me,” the 60-year-old actor mentions that the important scene almost did not make the final cut. Details about the scene’s inclusion in the film have been shared through several mediums for years now, including the documentary “More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story,” which was released on Feb. 5, 2021.
“They felt it took too long,” Macchio shares in his memoir. “The studio’s main concern was that with the movie running over two hours, they would lose a daily screening time, and essentially, money in the process.”
“I lobbied very hard for that scene because I felt it was the emotional heart of the picture… it humanized Mr. Miyagi for Daniel,” the film’s writer, Robert Mark Kamen, reportedly said.
Macchio also recalls in his book that the studio “shut up once we screened it [the inebriated Mr. Miyagi scene] for them with an audience.”
Speaking to GQ
in September, Macchio said that being “authentic to this Japanese American heritage” in the film was important to Morita.
“Certainly in ‘The Karate Kid,’ the whole Japanese internment camp, that was the first major motion picture, Hollywood studio movie that ever addressed that sort of dark time in our history,” Macchio told GQ.
“‘The Karate Kid’ has remained relevant for decades. It has been the gift that keeps on giving. With ‘Waxing On,’ I get to share my perspective on all of it,” Macchio told People in March.