It seems that the easily offended woke mob has taken issue with The Karate Kid and deemed the 1980s-classic as “too white” – and actor Ralph Macchio, who has portrayed aspiring martial artist-turned-sensei Daniel Larusso in both the cult film series and its Cobra Kai television continuation, is putting his foot down on these unfounded claims.

Cobra Kai. Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso in episode 510 of Cobra Kai. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

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“People have said it’s a very white cast..that it didn’t dive into the Asian story,” Macchio said in the most recent issue of Stellar Magazine, as per a transcript provided by The New York Post.

Addressing his late co-star Noriyuki “Pat” Morita and the background of his character, Mr. Miyagi, he explained, “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 2.”

Source: The Karate Kid (1984), Columbia Pictures

To this end, Macchio opined that the Morita’s performance during the scene wherein Mr. Miyagi reveals details about his past to Daniel – arguably the most heartbreaking in the film – was likely fueled by the actor’s own experiences during the war.

“Pat always said the scene [in which it’s revealed Mr. Miyagi lost his wife and child in the camps] earned him his Oscar nomination,” Macchio disclosed.


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Cobra Kai, a spinoff series produced by Sony Paictures Television Studios, has brought back both Ralph Macchio as Daniel Larusso and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, Daniel’s rival in the first movie.

Unsurprisingly, this new series has also faced its fair share of criticism for being “too white”.

Source: Cobra Kai Season 1 Episode 2 “Strike First” (2018), Sony Pictures Television

“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,” accused The Los Angeles Times writer Jen Yamato when decrying Cobra Kai‘s lack of Asian representation last year.

To further drive her point home, The Los Angeles Times author brought forward a statement by UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report, wherein author Ana-Christina Ramón, lamented, “Except for the Latino character of Miguel, all the other people of color are outside of that main cast, so it actually doesn’t show as a diverse show in a sense.”

Source: Cobra Kai Season 2 Episode 7 “Lull” (2019), Sony Pictures Television

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“Danny LaRusso, Italian kid from Jersey, is the most Japanese character on this show,” likewise condemned Vanity Fair’s Sonia Saraiya.

Cobra Kai. (L to R) Thomas Ian Griffith as Terry Silver, Yuji Okumoto as Chozen Toguchi in episode 502 of Cobra Kai. Cr. Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix © 2022

Upon Cobra Kai‘s release in 2018, Indie Wire author Hanh Nguyen similarly asserted, “Now, having Daniel wax poetic about bonsai cultivation or slicing sashimi smacks of white-splaining.”

“And while we might be able to forgive a character for being so earnestly tone deaf, the show utilizes a frequent and mortifying leitmotif in the vaguely Asian-sounding notes that play every time Daniel enters his homemade dojo,” the author further cried.

Source: Cobra Kai Season 3 Episode 5 “Miyagi-Do” (2021), Sony Pictures Television

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Unlike many other Hollywood productions in recent years, Cobra Kai is a spin-off series that has successfully managed to breathe new life into a decades-old franchise, focusing on well-written stories and characters rather than disrespecting fans.

In the show’s latest season, Daniel’s rival Chozen Toguchi, played by Yuji Okumoto, not only played a significant role in its story, but also became one of Cobra Kai’s new main characters.

Cobra Kai. (L to R) Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence, Yuji Okumoto as Chozen Toguchi, Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso in Cobra Kai. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Another newcomer to the franchise is Alicia Hannah-Kim, who plays Kim Da-Eun as one of the series’ main antagonists.

Yet, thanks to being so fleshed out as individual characters and their story being respectful of the series’ legacy, both Chozen and Kim Da-Eun’s introductions to the show felt organic instead of tacked on for brownie points in an attempt to appease those who have taken issue with the series’ demographics.

Source: Cobra Kai Season 5 Episode 6 “Ouroboros” (2022), Sony Pictures Television

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