Thanks to [movieperson id="39127"]Ralph Macchio[/movieperson], many of us who came of age in the 1980s spent our formative years perfecting our "standing crane" karate technique on the beach, trying to catch flies with chopsticks or searching fruitlessly for a shower-curtain Halloween costume.
Macchio's endearing, uplifting and now-iconic portrayal of Daniel LaRusso, the titular character in 1984's [movie id="18848"]"The Karate Kid,"[/movie] helped the film achieve massive commercial success (it grossed more than $90 million in an era when that really meant something and spawned three sequels) and critical respect. The original franchise was a tough act to follow, and yet, Columbia Pictures did just that, with a reboot starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan that debuted at #1 at the box office last week.
After attending the remake's premiere, Macchio said the new film "has a very different vibe." Indeed, the action has shifted from Southern California to Beijing, the protagonist is a preteen and, uh, nobody's doing karate (the remake centers on kung fu instead)."It is bigger, the fighting's more intense, and the landscape is international. It is well-done and effective, as they have stuck to the original's story points. ... They are two different movies with the same story."
He also said Smith and Chan have a nice connection onscreen: "Jaden and Jackie have strong chemistry, which is important." And what of the fact that the remake focuses on a different martial art altogether? "It's all kung fu, so the decision to call it 'The Karate Kid' is clearly a studio, show-business decision."
Macchio is getting a lot of attention these days from a self-mocking Funny or Die video called "Wax On, F--- Off." The clip is a trailer for a faux documentary, in which the sweet, mild-mannered Macchio tries to jumpstart his career by acting like a bad boy — or his version of it. Featuring cameos from the likes of Molly Ringwald (who deadpans, "He tried to get into the Brat Pack, but he wanted to change the name to the Smile Bunch"), the video "takes shots at me," Macchio said. "My nice-guy persona, my legacy and youthful-ish looks, and it also comments on scandal and the media."
One image in the video — when Macchio stands in front of the poster of the "Karate Kid" remake and tries, unsuccessfully, to do a karate kick — is both funny and bittersweet.
"What makes 'Karate Kid' such a timeless story is the relatable human element," Macchio said of the 1984 film. "We've all been the kid attempting to navigate through adolescence and looking for guidance. Having the mentor to help see you through is something we all yearn for when faced with obstacles. Young or old, generations have embraced Daniel and Miyagi — those characters have become a part of everyone's lives growing up. It's a privilege to be a part of that magic. Regardless of the success of this remake, the soul, magic and legacy of our original film will always stand."
Susannah Gora is the author of "You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, And Their Impact on a Generation."
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