Should Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) have been disqualified from the All-Valley Under-18 Karate Championship of 1984 for that crane kick to the face of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka)? Fans of the ’80s classic “The Karate Kid” have been debating that ending for more than 30 years.
So, ahead of today’s premiere of the YouTube Red revival series “Cobra Kai,” TheWrap asked Macchio to say once and for all whether he thinks the competition-winning move taught by none other than Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) was illegal.
And yes, Macchio said, “No hits to the face was clearly something when the referee made the list of things what not to do.”
But, he added with a laugh, “If that didn’t happen, I don’t know if we’d be talking about that movie 34 years later.”
The actor, now 56, applauded the filmmakers for doing “what was right” to solidify the sports drama’s legacy in pop culture history.
“My theory on all of it — and I’ve seen the little documentary footage of the ‘Justice for Johnny’ and the concept that Daniel was the real bully and came to town and sucker-punched him and stole his girlfriend — I’m not so sure that case would hold water,” Macchio said. “It seems a little shady in some parts. But I love the fact that we made this movie in 1983, it came out in ’84, and in 2018 people are still debating it. I think that makes it topical, relevant, a piece of Americana. ‘Wax on, wax off’ is probably in the dictionary by now. It’s sort of wonderful to have all of that and people still battle that out.”
Setting aside the crane kick debate itself, the new question is, will Daniel and Johnny address the controversy themselves when the revival series “Cobra Kai” drops on YouTube Red today?
“There’s a reference in the first episodes… there’s a scene where [Johnny] says, ‘That illegal kick?’ And I say, ‘What about that elbow to my knee?’ Which was equally illegal!” Macchio emphasised. “You’re not allowed to grab someone’s leg and jam your elbow into their wounded knee.”
See the crane kick in the clip above and if you want the most over-thought breakdown about the move ever, here it is.
All 10 episodes of “Cobra Kai” are available for streaming today, Wednesday, on YouTube Red. The first two are free, then you’ll need to buy a subscription for the rest.