In a few days, The Karate Kid, Part II will be celebrating its 30 year anniversary!
Not many trilogies come along where I can honestly say that I liked the second one better than the rest. I'm sure if I were to actually sit down and watch the first three (or is it the second three?) Star Wars movies all the way through, I would probably think The Empire Strikes Back was better than the first. All three Matrix and Bourne movies are pretty equal. The Dark Knight? Holy crap...by far the best second of a trilogy, ever!
Right up there close to Batman, however, is The Karate Kid. The second movie was hands down the most visually stunning, and had the best music (I still want to take pan flute lessons). Between Ali, Kumiko, and Jessica, Kumiko was easily the best candidate for the future Mrs. LaRusso. The stakes were higher in part two, and the villains were downright scary to my seven year old self.
We've lost a few of the main characters to that big dojo in the sky, sadly to say.
From left to right: Danny Kamekona as Sato (1935-1996), Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi (1932-2005), Nobu McCarthy as Yukie (1934-2002), Charlie Tanimoto as Miyagi's Father (1905-1988). A fun fact about Charlie: this would be his one and only acting role!
Take a look at what some of the surviving members look like now, and what they've been up to in the past 30 years!
The Bad Guys
Yuji Okumoto – Chozen
He is one of those guys that, when you see him in a movie, you point at the screen and yell, “It's him! Whoa!" Or something like that. Yuji has popped up in a LOT of movies and TV shows since Karate Kid, playing small parts in Pearl Harbor, The Game, and even Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman!
Joey Miyashima – Yoshi
Joey has also kept pretty busy since he made a name for himself playing Chozen's right-hand man, Yoshi. One of his most recent bigger roles was as Principal Matsui in High School Musical and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
Martin Kove – John Kreese
He wasn't the main bad guy of number two, but this guy was so mean and nasty, he has to be included. Him getting his just deserts made one of the most memorable scenes of the trilogy.
This dude's been busy, too! Martin has appeared in something every year since the original Karate Kid came out in 1984, with the exception of 1990. After starring in all three movies of a trilogy, I think he deserved a year off!
The Good Guys
Four good guys from the movie dying makes this part of the list a really short one!
Ralph Macchio – Daniel
After making his mark as Johnny Cade in The Outsiders in 1983, he officially earned his spot in history as Daniel LaRusso. He hasn't been able to match the success he had with Karate Kid, but who could, really? Appearing in Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother (as himself...he's done that a lot over the years), his latest project is A Dog and Pony Show, alongside Mira Sorvino.
Tamlyn Tomita – Kumiko
After getting her start in The Karate Kid, Part II, Tamlyn has remained busy ever since, with a very long string of appearances. Some of them will make you want to brush off your DVD collections and try to find her! Highlander (the TV series), Chicago Hope, 24, and Glee are a few of the shows she's appeared in that have come to an end. Want to see her in something current? She's a regular in Teen Wolf, playing Noshiko Yukimura!
The Other Guys
There are some actors who played such vital parts in this movie, and everyone remembers their face, yet nobody really knows who they are or what happened to them. Some of their stories might surprise you!
Traci Toguchi – The Bell Ringing Girl
Traci made her film debut at 12 as this girl, who Daniel saves with the help of Sato. Since then, she's only made a handful of appearances. She was the receptionist the episode of Lost titled "Something Nice Back Home" in 2008, and was Mrs. Lasko in a 2011 episode of Hawaii Five-0 that I'm not even going to try to type out.
“Not for you, I not be here.” Awww....right in the feels!
Raymond Ma – Okinawa Taxi Driver
Magnum P.I. was his first appearance, according to IMDB, and Karate Kid was his second. Since then, Raymond has pretty much been the James Hong of TV shows, appearing in everything from Hill Street Blues to The Wild Thornberrys to Lost.
Pat E. Johnson – The Referee
Mostly doing stuntwork during his career, Pat also had a few small acting parts here and there. But by far his most famous will be the mustachioed referee we remember from all three Karate Kids! Born in 1939, his career in stunts has probably come to an end. He not only starred in all three movies of the trilogy, but he was a stunt choreographer/coordinator for part two and three.
BD Wong – Kid on the Street
The final entry on the list is a shocker! Kumiko's extremely excitable friend was one of BD Wong's first roles, back when he was Bradd Wong. Now, we know him as Dr. Henry Wu from Jurassic Park! Check him out!
See you in three years when The Karate Kid, Part III celebrates its 30th anniversary!
Until then...a show of hands. Who feels REALLY old right now?