Of the original three “Karate Kid” movies, 1989’s “The Karate Kid Part III” is unarguably the weakest link.
Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen, whose “Taken 2” is currently riding atop of the box-office charts, tells Crave Online that he doesn’t have much time for that ill-fated second sequel, if only because it’s not the one he originally wanted to write.
Kamen says the “Karate Kid Part III” he originally pitched would’ve been a prequel, centering on Miyagi’s ‘flying’ ancestors in 19th Century China. While Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita would’ve still be involved, a female lead (an idea the producers would later borrow for “The Next Karate Kid”, which starred Hilary Swank) would’ve carried the picture.
Unfortunately, the non-courageous, and seemingly unimaginative crew at Sony at the time wanted ‘more of the same’ as opposed to something radically different, and Kamen’s initial idea was tossed out.
Here’s part of the interview with Kamen :
Was it then harder to make Karate Kid Part III a continuation?
Well, the truth will now be told. I turned down doing Karate Kid III because I wanted to do something different. I wanted to have them flashback to 16th century China and do a historical flying people movie. I wanted to do a Hong Kong Kung Fu movie. That’s what I wanted to do. Guy McElwaine, rest his soul, refused to do it. He wouldn’t do it. Jerry [Weintraub] wouldn’t do it. They didn’t want to mess with the franchise and I felt very strongly that doing the same story all over again was f***ing boring so I didn’t do it and they hired somebody else to do a draft. Somebody else could not write Mr. Miyagi and Daniel, couldn’t write them. So Dawn Steel took over the studio from Guy McElwaine and she was a good friend of mine. She said, “How much would it take for you to do what they want to do?” I was very flippant and I threw a number out and she said okay. I didn’t really want to do that one but I ended up doing it because first of all, they appealed to me. They said, “What, do you want somebody to f*ck up Mr. Miyagi? Because we’re going to make the film.” And I said, “Okay, I’ll do it” but I wouldn’t do the fourth one, the one with the girl with Hilary Swank.
I actually quite like The Next Karate Kid because I thought doing a Karate Kid with a girl, but you never thought about going in that direction?
I didn’t want to do it. I had had it by then. There were no more lessons to be learned. If it was going to be with a girl, it had to be completely, completely different. I would have done it if they would have done my Kung Fu sequel. If they would have done my flying people movie I would have done it but they didn’t want to do that. So I didn’t. I wanted to do the third one with a girl and get rid of Daniel, but they didn’t want to do that. Enough already. I was so tired of The Karate Kid. There’s only so many things Mr. Miyagi can say that sound great.
It’s funny, Karate was so huge in the ‘80s and now they had to change it to Kung Fu, and they were even going to call it The Kung Fu Kid but they ultimately had to stick with your original title, even for the remake.
Yeah, they did. Taking it to China was smart but it was also a total rip-off of what I wanted to do. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted them to go to 16th century China and be involved in a flying people movie.
How would you have done that with Japanese Karate and Mr. Miyagi?
Well, he wasn’t Japanese. He was Okinawan and originally Okinawan Karate came from China. And it came from China by Okinawan fisherman going there and by Chinese traders coming to Okinawa to work. The real Mr. Miyagi, Chojun Miyagi, founder of my style of Karate was from Chinese ancestry. My weapons teacher in Okinawa was of Chinese ancestry and a lot of Okinawan people are very proud that they come from Chinese people and especially the martial arts community. A lot of the guys who were founders of martial arts styles in Okinawa, it came from Chinese martial arts and they just adapted it. So it was very easy to reverse it. As Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel in the first movie, he said the first Miyagi was a fisherman, he got drunk and he fell asleep and his boat drifted to China and he spent 10 years there and learned Karate. When he came back, he knew Karate. I was going to tell the saga in reverse. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are in a boat. It all happens when Daniel gets hit on the head and he has a dream. He’s in a coma or something and they see a boat in the mist. It docks and Mr. Miyagi and Daniel follow the first Miyagi ancestor into China and then they get involved in this thing. It would’ve been really cool but nobody wanted to do it.
That’s a fascinating “what if.” And in the last few years, they would have done that.
Yes, they would have and CGI and flying people. I predated wanting to do it because I grew up on these Kung Fu movies in the ‘70s in Chinatown, New York. I predated all this stuff by 15 years by the time they got around to doing The Matrix and Crouching Tiger. I had wanted to do that in 1986.
In the same interview, Kamen says his “Bloodsport” remake isn’t so much a remake as it is simply a film bearing the same title. As such, it won’t feature a Jean-Claude Van Damme cameo.