‘The Karate Kid’ Originally Had a Much More Violent Ending

Nowadays, Cobra Kai is among the most popular shows on Netflix. But decades ago, The Karate Kid stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka had no idea how big the movie would be. Of course, the 1984 classic movie won the world over with its underdog story. However, The Karate Kid’s triumphant ending nearly went down a darker, more violent direction instead.

Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio in 'The Karate Kid'
Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio in ‘The Karate Kid’ | Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

‘The Karate Kid’ was one of 1984’s biggest box office hits

As far as movie years, 1984 is a fairly epic one. Ghostbusters topped the year’s box office. But other franchise starters such as Gremlins, Police Academy, and Beverly Hills Cop also hit theaters in 1984. Likewise, The Karate Kid released on June 22 in the heart of summer. The movie led to not only three sequels over the next decade but the 2018 launch of Cobra Kai.

Many of the people involved in the movie — including Macchio — hated the title. But nevertheless, there was a sense of the potential The Karate Kid had. After all, the film came from director John G. Avildsen, who launched the Rocky franchise. And the enduring love for The Karate Kid proves just how deeply Daniel LaRusso’s (Macchio) story really is. 

RELATED: Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai’: Is ‘The Karate Kid’ Franchise Based on a True Story?

The movie almost addressed the rivalry between Miyagi and Kreese

Of course, The Karate Kid concludes with Daniel’s victorious crane kick, which allows him to defeat Johnny Lawrence (Zabka). As Daniel is declared the winner, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) offers an approving smile, and the movie freeze-frames and cuts to credits. But fans nearly saw what happened right after that heart-warming moment. And it should sound very familiar.

According to Mental Floss, the showdown between Daniel and Johnny wasn’t the original finale for the movie. Rather, The Karate Kid almost followed up on the rivalry between Miyagi and Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove). Following Johnny’s loss, Kreese attacks him in the parking lot outside the All Valley Karate Tournament. And Miyagi confronts him.

However, just when it seems Miyagi will strike Kreese, the benevolent sensei relents and honks Kreese’s nose. Fans of the franchise will remember this scene actually opens The Karate Kid Part II. As it turns out, the sequence wasn’t shot until the sequel began production. But it was in the original script. Of course, the third film also changed during development too.

RELATED: ‘Cobra Kai’: The Show’s Creators Also Started 2 Raunchy R-Rated Comedy Movie Series

‘Cobra Kai’ picked up the story with Martin Kove’s return as Kreese

The first sequel doesn’t even feature Kreese beyond this bit of narrative housekeeping. But his confrontation with Miyagi is the key to The Karate Kid Part III. In that film, Kreese seeks revenge against Daniel and Miyagi. And old friend and benefactor Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) launches a scheme to undermine Daniel and Miyagi’s friendship from the inside.

Naturally, Silver fails in the end. But as Cobra Kai fans surely know, the character is heavily rumored to pop up in season 4. With Kreese back in charge of the Cobra Kai dojo, he is on a collision course with both Daniel and Johnny — now united against him — at the next tournament. Cobra Kai Season 4 is currently in production, though no release date is set.