“The film was ahead of its time”: Ralph Macchio Slammed Critics for Calling The Karate Kid “Too White” Despite Japanese Co-Star Pat Morita Getting an Oscar Nomination

"The film was ahead of its time": Ralph Macchio Slammed Critics for Calling The Karate Kid "Too White" Despite Japanese Co-Star Pat Morita Getting an Oscar Nomination
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The Karate Kid is considered one of the greatest sleeper hits of Hollywood. Besides being extensively praised for its various aspects, the movie was also a hit at the box office. It also led to several sequels and a web series set in the same universe named Miyagi-verse. But despite being critically and commercially successful, the movie was called out by some critics for its lack of diverse characters.

Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in Karate Kid
Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in The Karate Kid

Addressing The Karate Kid’s issue of lack of diversity, the lead of the movie Ralph Macchio defended it by saying that many don’t understand how the film was ahead of its time. Often many critics have called out the 1984 movie for its lack of Asian casting but looks like the Macchio has something more to add to the story.

Also Read: “No smirk, just a simple smile”: Cobra Kai Star Ralph Macchio Had Real-Life Feud With William Zabka After Actor Actually Knocked Out the Karate Kid in Key Scene


How did Ralph Macchio defend The Karate Kid’s lack of diversity?

Ralph Macchio was recently seen playing his iconic role of Daniel LaRusso in the Netflix series Cobra Kai which follows the storyline of Miyagi-verse. In the original 1984 movie, Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso was a teenager who was taught karate by Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi.

Ralph Macchio
Ralph Macchio

Last year, while speaking to Stellar Magazine, Ralph Macchio gave some strong statements on the comments of the critics regarding the issue of diversity in The Karate Kid. According to the LaRusso star, the film was ahead of its time and was a realistic portrayal of Japanese internment camps during the time of the Second World War.

“People have said it’s a very White cast, that it didn’t dive into the Asian story. But I always say this: The film was ahead of its time because it was a popcorn movie that talked about Japanese internment camps during World War II.”

THE KARATE KID, Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, 1984.
Pat Morita (L) and Ralph Macchio (R) in The Karate Kid (1984)

The performance was one of the main highlights of the $130.8 million grosser and the late Pat Morita even went on to receive an Academy Award nomination. Speaking of how the realistic aspect of the Japanese internment camps provided depth to the movie, Ralph Macchio commented:


“Pat himself spent two years in the camps. So it had double meaning and some depth. 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. They all shut up once we screened it for them with an audience.”

Cobra Kai brought the 61-year-old actor back in his iconic Daniel LaRusso persona. The Netflix series also brought William Zabka back as Johnny Lawrence. But along with that, the series also brought back criticisms as once again critics criticized for the lack of diversity.

Also Read: Ralph Macchio Turned Down $961M Cult-Classic Franchise After The Karate Kid Fame, Killed His Own Career to be Revived by Cobra Kai 34 Years Later

Cobra Kai also faced The Karate Kid’s fate

Cobra Kai repopularizes the fizzled out Karate Kid franchise
Cobra Kai

The Netflix spin-off was a treat to the fans of the Miyagi-verse who felt nostalgic to watch their favorite characters back in action in their iconic roles after so long. But the show saw a significant amount of reviews similar to The Karate Kid. As per a report by The Los Angeles Times:


“There are now three white men [Martin Kove reprised his role as John Kreese for the series’ fifth season] at the center of ‘Cobra Kai,’ a franchise rooted in and deeply indebted to Eastern tradition”

Many other critics also called out the series for not being so diverse and following the trend of being very “white”. Though the show is also appreciated by a lot of fans and also received a fair share of positive reactions as well. After running for five successful seasons, the show is set to conclude with the sixth season.

Also Read: “Truly not ready for this show to end”: Fans Demand Netflix Renew Cobra Kai for Season 7 After Show Announces S6 to Be the Last Saga

But looks like the fans have to keep more patience as the season six production is currently at a halt due to the Writer’s Strike. It is expected that the release date of the upcoming season of the series might see a delay to late 2024 or early 2025 depending on the outcome of the ongoing strike.


The Karate Kid (1984) can be rented on Apple TV+.

Source: The New York Post

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Written by Subham Mandal

Articles Published: 1171

Subham Mandal is currently working as a content writer for FandomWire with an ardent interest in the world of pop culture. He has written more than 1000 articles on different spheres of modern pop culture and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He’s also an experienced student journalist having demonstrated work experience with the Times of India. He aspires to be a column writer in the future.