Ralph Macchio, star of The karate kiddefends the film against the backlash aimed at the film’s lack of diversity. The karate kid was released in 1984 and follows the story of a young, bullied teenager who learns karate from a martial arts master in order to better defend himself against his upper-class peers. Macchio starred alongside Elisabeth Shue, Pat Morita, Martin Kove and William Zabka. The film was a success that kick-started a franchise, with Macchio starring in two more sequels.
The karate kid came back in a big way with the release of Cobra Kai, a sequel series that follows Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso and Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence as adults with an ongoing feud that rekindles their karate rivalry. Also a new one karate kid movie, which has nothing to do with Cobra Kai, has been announced as under development. So now that the movie is back in people’s minds, The karate kid has received a new response, in which an actor now shares his opinion about the way.
While speaking with Zodiac sign magazine (via Fox news), defended Macchio The karate kid to critics who point to the film’s “very white cast.” The actor goes deeper by referencing the subplot about Mr. Miyagi in a Japanese internment camp, which is a reflection of what Morita herself endured. In the mind of Macchio, “The film was way ahead of its time.” Check out Macchio’s comments on The karate kidthe diversity below:
“People have said it’s a very white cast, that it didn’t delve into the Asian story. But I always say this: the movie was ahead of its time because it was a popcorn movie that talked about Japanese internment camps during WWII Pat spent two years in the camps themselves, so it had a double meaning and some depth.The studio’s main concern was that if the film was more than two hours in length, they would lose daily showing time, and essentially money in the process. all kept their mouths when we showed it to them in front of an audience.”
Why Macchio’s Defense Isn’t Addressing the Problem
While Macchio’s comments about The karate kidThe subplot of the internment camp being a little ahead of its time has some truth in it, but it also misses the point. Aside from Morita, who is Japanese, the film’s cast is filled in by predominantly white actors. In addition, Mr. Miyagi, while important to the character, is not seen as the driving force of the film. So while Macchio does his best to defend The karate kid against the resistance, it might have been better to acknowledge the lack of diversity, which was probably more due to the time in which the film was made.
The Karate Kid Part II did better to embrace Japanese culture to a greater extent, seeing Daniel Mr. Miyagi accompanied to visit his dying father in Okinawa. However, the driving force of the film was still a white protagonist. Even now, with Cobra Kai, the cast is a diverse mix of young stars from different backgrounds, with Daniel working to instill the knowledge and traditions that Mr. Miyagi have been passed on. Still, the protagonists, Macchio and Zabka, are the ones who teach karate and pass on traditions from Japanese culture, which could be considered a bit problematic in the eyes of critics who call for diversity. So while Macchio defends The karate kid amid backlash, the movie may be another in a long line of older movies that don’t age well despite a loyal fanbase.