Karate Kid or Is It?

Always look eye!

Always look eye!

One of my top five movies is The Karate Kid, 1984, starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. Ralph played the unconfident Daniel Larusso, and Pat played Kesuke Miyagi, Mr. Miyagi.  It's one of the coolest stories because it's aboutbelieving in yourself.

Both at the time were relative unknowns. Macchio had only acted professionally, according to IMDb, since the early 80's. Morita had been acting since the 60's, possibly earlier.  I do remember him as Al in the sitcom Happy Days. Mr. Miyagi was his role to play, and from the DVD extras, the voice and mannerisms came to him instantly. A sign of this was his nomination as best supporting actor both in the Academy and Golden Globe awards.

Ooops, that was me

Ooops, that was me

When I first heard they were remaking this, I cringed. Then I heard Jaden Smith, Will Smith's son was starring in it.  I felt Smith was grooming his son to follow in his stardom, which is fine. And I think it worked.

Honestly, I wasn't going to watch this.  I loved the original too much, but then I told myself, "I gotsa support my Asian brothah, Jackie Chan!"  If that were true, then I would have watched The Spy Next Door.

I've always been a proponent of knowing why you like certain things, and The Karate Kid, 1984 was one. I've watched the movie dozens upon dozens of times.  Analyzed it as much as I could. And my most favorite part about the story is the relationship between the student and teacher. The relationship has a rocky start since Mr. Miyagi is cold and distant in the beginning. But as Daniel's needs become apparent, Mr. Miyagi makes the reluctant decision to teach him, putting him through day-long chores, which are really karate lessons. You can feel that their relationship is real.

Remember "Wax on, wax off"?

Dude, why are you touching my hand?

Dude, why are you touching my hand?

The newly released version replaces Daniel with Dre, played by Smith, and Mr. Miyagi with Mr. Han, played by Chan.

The feel of an intimate relationship is what's missing from The Karate Kid, 2010. Both Smith and Chan act well, but their relationship never blossoms. We see there is supposed to be a connection when Mr. Han gently pats a snoozing Dre, or when Dre realizes that taking his jacket off, throwing it on the ground, picking it up, putting it back on a thousand times is a karate lesson...I mean a kung fu lesson.  But I'm writing about The Karate Kid. Ah...huh...anyways...

The awe, the holy crap I am learning karate...argh...I mean kung fu...wasn't totally realized. And it's in that moment, in the original, is where their relationship solidifies from mere student/teacher...

Attitude!

Attitude!

to mentor/believer...

That was totally awesome, dude! Touch my hands again.

That was totally awesome, dude! Touch my hands again.

and moves on to BFFs...

Get out of my cah!

Get out of my cah!

Another problem I had with the movie was personal.  I've seen the original too many times.  I know it too well.  And they really didn't do anything new with the story.  Well...there's new names, new actors, better martial arts choreography, and two big names playing the main parts, and China, but that's it.  It wasn't really a remake as much of a regurgitate.

A lot of the dialogue mirrored/copied the original.  The story structure and plot mirrored/copied the original.  There was a moment in the movie where I told myself, here comes the humanizing of Mr. Han, jokingly.  Then that scene came when Mr. Han shows Dre, and the audience, that he's human.  I often found myself comparing the two movies.  And I don't think I would have had the dialogue, scenes, and when they happened didn't mirror/copy the original so closely.

One last thing.  Macchio played the role well, swimming in and out of self-realization and fear.  In the last climatic fight, Daniel-san's leg was kicked, rendering unusable, and Macchio sold it.  When the same thing happens to Dre, Smith doesn't sell the injury at all, walking as if he stubbed his toe.  Despite acting well, Smith didn't have opposing sides of fear and self-realization, something that would have given the character dimension.

"[Is] unacting acting, or acting unacting..." -Bruce Lee

Objectively, the movie worked, albeit without the relationship. The audience cheered the ending.  Most were too young to have seen the original.  It's one thing to remain faithful to the original, like translating comic books to the silver screen.  It's another to copy the original.

The Unbeaten Path

In my postAre You a Complainer,I ask the question, "Are you a complainer?"  Some of you may complain that the last sentence was a bit redundant.  My friend made a comment:  Odd that people would accept a habit that makes them feel miserable.  I think the reason may be people are comfortable.

People want the above picture.  A road that lights up that leads to their destination.

People will even follow a road like this, which I think reflects life a bit more.

But if you were the rock, which path would you follow?  The straight path?  The curvy one?  How about the third?

I was reading another writer's post, and they were talking about why writers write, knowing thechancesany kind of success is freakin' low.

Here's my view: Learn the lesson of the turtle.

I wrote The 7th Province and will continue to write the two books in this series and the prequels because some how for some reason these stories were given to me to write.  I write these posts because when I come across something that invokes a thought close to my heart, I write about it.

It is what it is cuz it ain't what it ain't.

Duh.

Despite the millions of books that are written each year, writing is the unbeaten path.

When I went to the San Francisco Writer's Conference, I talked to a lot of writers.  Many were published.  Many had written books.  But I was also surprised to find that many writers hadn't even begun.  Was it their destiny to write?  That's not for me to answer.  But it seems that those who write, write because they are inspired to.

God!  Here's that freakin' word 'inspire'.

That word invokes an internal meaning.  It's not 'outspire', which isn't even a word.  Nor is it perspire, which invokes strange odors.  But it's inspire.  In.

In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi asks Daniel to close his eyes and imagine a perfect picture of a bonsai tree.

Mr. Miyagi:  Wipe your mind clean.  Everything but the tree.  Nothing exists in whole world...only tree.  You got it?  Open eyes.  Remember picture?

Daniel-san:  Yeah.

Mr. Miyagi:  Make like picture.  Just trust the picture.

Daniel-san:  How do I know my picture's the right one?

Mr. Miyagi:  If come from inside you, always right one.

Do what you love, love what you do.

Karate Heah

Mr. Miyagi points to his head. "Karate heah." He taps his heart. "Karate heah." He grabs his belt. "Karate nevah heah." photo

I was reading an article in one of those karate or kung fu magazines. It was written by a practitioner. He was discussing how spirituality was missing from MMA, specifically targetting UFC fighters. That all fighters wanted was to be champions, to have fame, fortune, and busty ladies swarming around them.

Hell...what man wouldn't want that?

It's obvious there's a huge misunderstanding of how spirituality should be practiced, or that MMA fighters don't practice it. And it was also obvious this practitioner didn't watch MMA, read the forums, interviews, and watch post fight conferences like I do.

It's one of my many vices.

The wise practitioner, the writer of this wise article, full of wisdom, full of research, and full of shit harped on the lack of inner peace. Through his wise words I knew this person never fought, or if he did, then he approached it without inner peace. As wise and full of wisdom as he ascertained.

I'm a huge MMA fan. Watched hundreds of hours of interviews. And one thing that all fighters strain to get is inner peace. One of the most popular UFC fighters is former light heavy weight champion Chuck "The Iceman" Lidell. His monicker indicates that his nerves are as cold as ice before, during and after a fight. Every fighter praises him for that. Because if a fighter gets too excited, they'll waste energy, suffer from an adrenalin dump, or are prone to mistakes. And mistakes in a game where there are literally dozens upon dozens of ways to lose isn't a good thing. Keeping your cool is essential. And the current dominant fighters of the UFC and Strikeforce exhibit this without a doubt.

I get more nervous watching them fight.

Back to this all wise practitioner. His practice of inner peace is through meditation. I'm surmising here. But it's pretty common. And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's pretty easy to reach inner peace when you're peaceful.  It's kinda like going into a room full of yellow balloons to look for a yellow balloon.

Now, if we place a fighter punching this all wise practitioner in the face, how well would he be able to keep inner peace? Not well. But MMA fighters do this every day. And their ability to keep this inner peace allows them to adapt to the fight. It's very common to see one fighter losing the fight badly, and with a slight change of strategy he comes up with the win.

This can't be done if the fighter panics because he isn't present enough to analyze what's going on.

MMA fighters also practice 6-8 hours a day. They have to love the process and love the journey to continue to learn and challenge themselves. Another principle of spiritualitism.

All fighters want to be champions. But as they climb the ladder to contention, they remain present and focus on their current opponent. They study tapes, go over strategy, hire fighters who can mimic their opponents, and rarely think pass them. The principle of being present is at work here.

MMA fighters practice inner peace, but they do it in an environment that doesn't elicit it.  So who's more skilled at inner peace?  Someone who practices in a peaceful environment?  Or someone who practices in a violent one?

I wrote this because it struck me as a huge misunderstanding of MMA fighters.  To be misunderstood is a sore subject for my main character in my book.  He's continually misunderstood by the people he's sworn to protect, but he pushes on because it is what he does.  What hero gives up?