Recently at Sundance, we bumped into Eighties icon Ralph Macchio and brought you his first thoughts on Will Smith's upcoming “Karate Kid” remake. But while we played in the snow with the original Daniel-san, we were also eager to get his thoughts on the recent news that Mr. Miyagi is going to be played by…Jackie Chan?
“I don’t know,” sighed the now 47-year-old star, in town to promote his Slamdance flick “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead." “I think Jackie Chan, we all assumed that’s where they were going to go - unless they were thinking of just casting an unknown.”
And while it might be true that the role of an older, light-hearted martial arts master seems like no-brainer casting for the “Rumble in the Bronx” star, Macchio voiced some concerns. “The thing is whether Jackie Chan gives you Jackie Chan, or if Jackie Chan does a, you know, real stretch to the character,” he explained.
Thinking back, however, he remembered similar fears on the set of the 1984 “Karate Kid,” when the cast and crew raised eyebrows over the casting of a sitcom actor to play Miyagi – the heart and soul of the film. “You know, the great thing about Pat Morita is he played [serious when he had to]. He was Arnold from ‘Happy Days’! We said the same thing [when he was cast]: ‘Oh, this guy isn’t going to be [dramatic enough],” Macchio recalled. “They wanted like, Toshiro Mifune, or some great actor.”
“And Pat Morita comes in and just embodies this character,” Macchio remembered of his Oscar-nominated co-star, who passed away in 2005. “He had the humor, he had the comedic chops, but he had the richness of what the human part of that character needed; which is what made it such a great performance.”
Rumor has it that the new “Karate Kid” is giving Miyagi a massive overhaul, even going so far as to change him from Japanese to Chinese and moving parts of the film to China itself. And while such matters definitely concern Macchio, the affable actor refused to crane-kick Chan, Will Smith and his new “Karate Kid” son Jaden, saying instead that he hopes they can pull off the controversial project.
“I think Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, with a good script, and all the moons in alignment? It could be another big fat hit,” Macchio explained. Stay tuned, as we’ll soon be posting more from Macchio – including his thoughts on doing a cameo in the film.
Does Jackie Chan have the dramatic chops to play Mr. Miyagi? Or will the “Karate Kid” remake prove to be a worm in the bottle for the drunken master? Let us know your thoughts!