How odd, to see a movie like The Karate Kid be mentioned with something that is typically associated with science fiction, but I think it fits. You’ve all see the three Karate Kid movies. I know you have. It’s not scientifically possible to have missed them all, if only because they’ve been replayed on cable stations galore for years. What you probably haven’t noticed is how great the casting was for the entire trilogy.
First off, I ignore the fourth movie completely – I’m only talking about the first three for obvious reasons. While they didn’t earn any Oscars, they are pretty well known to the masses. Little foggy on the details? Lets review. The first one came out in 1984. Daniel was a high school senior (around 18 years old) yet Ralph Macchio was 23 at the time. Miyagi was an elder man (say early 50’s); “Pat” Morita was 52 at the time. The second installment was released in 1986; the third movie in 1989.
Where’s the paradox? Or the subtly good casting job? It comes from the story line, versus the reality of the actors and the time that passes. Part 1 starts during the summer before Daniel’s senior year and ends in December of that same year. Part 2 picks up at the prom of his senior year, and the boys spend the summer in Okinawa with that Asian hottie. Part 3 picks up during the following fall and again it ends in December. OK, so the entire story line runs for about 1.5 years, yet by the time the story ends, Macchio is …28? He still looks like a high school senior! What’s more is that Morita doesn’t age any either – he still looks the same, as he should for only one year’s time.
And so does the rest of the cast. In fact, they got the same yuts of a sensei back for Part 3 – he hadn’t aged any either – and the same referees in the tournament and some of the other officials. They even got the same set back from the Part 1 tournament. Then there’s the general settings for all three movies, too. The 1950’s cars come back, even though they have to be very rare to find again. So does everything else: if you remember, 1984 was the height of the 80’s look… lots of video games, Michael Jackson wanna-bes, and a strange obsession for nylon pants with lots of zippered pockets. That same look comes back in Part 3, which ends up looking like it could have been filmed months after Part 1 (rather than five years).
I dunno what to make of it. I mean Back to the Future Part 2 and 3 are well tied together, but they were filmed together – BttF has a different Jennifer than 2 and 3, and in 2 and 3 they could only shoot George in his older form (because he bailed on the movies)… only Lea Thompson was re-shot for young scenes in 1955. The Matrix 2 and 3 were also filmed together, but The Matrix was completed only a couple of years before the filming of 2 and 3. The Lord of the Rings were all filmed together and are incredibly tight, obviously. Yet, here’s The Karate Kid trilogy, with what had to be a limited budget (and limited plot) and it has nailed a chronological tightness that not many film masters could. I dunno… Seems odd to me – almost makes me wonder if they tried to do it on purpose or not…
Simply amazing what kinda of useless crap the mind can produce late at night, isn’t it?