The Karate Kid is all set for its TV reboot Cobra Kai, but what have the stars of the original film been up to meanwhile?
YouTube Red Cobra Kai: It's been a long time since the phrase "wax on, wax off" was a household thing, it's time to check out what the original star cast of the movie is up to now.
When the news of a new YouTube Red web-series based on the cult classic The Karate Kid first appeared in the news, fans of the movie went wild. The web-series, aptly named Cobra Kai, is essentially going to be a half-hour series based on the 1984 movie.
Cobra Kai will follow the story of the lead character from the original film Daniel LaRusso (again played by Ralph Macchio), who is now a successful car dealer and a married father-of-two. On the other hand, his arch-rival, also from the original film, Johnny Lawrence (again played by William Zabka), is seeking revenge for being scorned all those years ago by opening his own Cobra Kai karate dojo.
Cobra Kai miraculously shows the life and times of these two men dealing with past demons as well as present frustrations in the only way they know how: through karate.
This is not the first time that popular 1984 movie has been reprised to suit the current time frame. In 2010, The Karate Kid reboot was roughly based on the 1984 screenplay. Although the movie was sculpted around the same storyline, the themes were a little different from the original movie.
In the 2010 version, Jaden Smith played the role of a 12-year-old Dre, who moves to Shanghai from the U.S. because of his mom, played by Taraji P. Henson's new job. Once there, he makes his painful acquaintance with the neighborhood bully Cheng, portrayed by Zhenwei Wang. In order to protect himself from the bully, he makes an unlikely ally in the aging maintenance man, Mr. Han (played by Jackie Chan), who is a kung fu master himself, and who participates in helping Dre learn the art of self-defense.
The movie was well-received by audiences, especially by Karate Kid fans, and ended up earning a whopping $359.1 million on a meager $40 million budget.
With all the buzz around the original Karate Kid, the YouTube Red series will most likely be a hit with fans, and people have been waiting for the first episode to hit. Scheduled to debut May 2 on YouTube Red, Cobra Kai had its first premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the reaction was spectacular. Which makes us believe that the series will honor the memory of the original movie, and keep the audiences glued to their seats.
The three writers of the series, Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, said at the time of the official announcement, “Cobra Kai will be a true continuation of the original films — packed with comedy, heart, and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry.”
The new series, which comes almost 30 years after the original movie, is supposed to include some scenes from 1984 that viewers have never seen before, including scenes with the late Pat Morita, who played the role of the beloved mentor Mr. Miyagi in the movies.
"It was important to me that Pat's legacy was not lost, even though the whole concept was about the rivalry between Daniel and Johnny Lawrence," Macchio told The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Cobra Kai's premiere at New York's Tribeca Film Festival. "We didn't want the human element of the show to get lost, and that human element really stems from Mr. Miyagi."
He continued: "We're not here without Pat Morita's performance in that film. The heart and soul of the Karate Kid universe are the teachings of Mr. Miyagi."
Although it's been a long time since the phrase "wax on, wax off" was a household thing, it's time to check out what the original star cast of the movie is up to now.
Considered to be one of the big screen's favorite heroes in the '80s, Macchio started out his acting career with the hit television show Eight is Eight, where he played the role of Jeremy Andretti. However, it was his first big screen appearance in the The Outsiders as greaser Johnny Cade that put him on the world's radar.
Soon after, Macchio landed his role in The Karate Kid as Daniel LaRusso, which put him on the cover of every teen magazine at the time and made him a major heartthrob. However, what many people may not remember is that while Macchio was gracing the covers of teen magazines, the actor was already 23-years-old at the time.
Although Macchio could never match the success of The Karate Kid in later projects, the movie gave his career a much-needed boost, and other productions like Crossroads and My Cousin Vinny helped to keep his acting career afloat. Later, the actor moved to TV roles, and was seen in various popular shows like Ugly Betty, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Psych. To keep himself from becoming obsolete, the star even participated on Dancing With The Stars, and managed to finish fourth.
Now 55, Macchio has dedicated much of his life to his family, and lives in Long Island, New York, with his wife Phyllis Fierro and two kids. He still continues his passion for the big screen, with his movie Lost Cat Corona, releasing in February last year.
Before being known as everyone's favorite karate teacher Mr. Miyagi, Pat Morita was known for his guest appearances in almost all the popular TV shows of the era. Later on, he also did a few minor roles on the big screen with movies like Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shakiest Gun in the West, and Midway.
One of the struggles which Morita had to face with his roles was his ethnicity. Although he mostly played Asian characters, he was never able to escape the stereotypes that came along with the parts. Even with a starry and lengthy resume, the actor did not get a taste of success and fame till he landed a role on the hit television show Happy Days as the happy-go-lucky restaurant owner, Arnold.
However, most people will argue that Morita's ultimate claim to fame was The Karate Kid, which put him on the map for his effortless acting skills and even went on to get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. After the success of the movie, he continued to act in various films and TV shows.
Sadly, in 2005, the beloved Mr. Miyagi succumbed to a kidney failure and died at the age of 73.
Considered to be the most accomplished actor from the Karate Kid movie, Shue played the role of Daniel LaRusso’s love interest, Ali Mills, which helped her launch an extremely successful and promising career in the TV and film industry. After the success of Karate Kid, the award-winning actress went on to star in movies such as Cocktail, Back to the Future I and II, the Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas and The Saint.
The actress recently made an appearance on the hit CBS police drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, where she played the role of Julie Finlay from 2012 to 2015. The Harvard graduate is also the sister of famous actor Andrew Shue.
Now in her early 50s, the actress lives in Los Angeles with her husband film director Davis Guggenheim, and their three kids. Her last project was the star-studded movie Battle of the Sexes, which released in 2017 and is about the highly-controversial 1973 exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
Zabka made his big screen debut with The Karate Kid, where he played the role of the notorious leader of Cobra Kai, Johnny Lawrence. Considered to be one of the most hated villains of the 80s, Zabbka was often type-cast as almost the same character in most of the projects that followed the success of The Karate Kid.
In order to get rid of his villainous image, the actor then dabbled in the independent film industry in the 1900s and 2000s where he was able to broaden his horizons as an actor and shake off the image of a villain.
The actor has aged well over the years and is still heavily involved in the entertainment industry as an actor, director and producer. Now in his early 50s, the actor has appeared in various television programs such as How I Met Your Mother, Jimmy Kimmel, and Robot Chicken. He was last seen in the 2016 movie The Man in the Silo playing the role of Kevin in the film.
Heller first made it into the limelight with her stint in the successful ABC comedy Soap. But her role as the single mother, Lucille LaRusso in The Karate Kid truly made her a household name. Heller later made a lot of successful TV appearances, along with a successful stage career on Broadway.
The actress still continued to act in films, and made appearances in popular movies like Bulworth and Monster-in-Law. She is also widely known for her role in the immensely popular TV show Mad Men, where she played the character of Don Draper’s secretary, Ida Blankenship. The actress even received an Emmy nomination for the role in 2011.
Heller, who is originally from Brooklyn, is now in her early 70s and still continues to act. Some of her most recent projects were a recurring role on the FX series Wilfred, and a guest appearance for the hit ABC show Modern Family in 2013.