Robert Mark Kamen

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Robert Mark Kamen
Born (1947-10-09) October 9, 1947 (age 75)
Alma materNew York University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (PhD)
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, producer, winemaker
Known forThe Karate Kid

Robert Mark Kamen (born October 9, 1947) is an American screenwriter, best known as creator of The Karate Kid franchise, as well as for his later collaborations with French filmmaker Luc Besson, which includes the screenplay for The Fifth Element (originally devised by Besson) and the Transporter and Taken franchises. He now produces wine from his vineyards near Sonoma, California.

Early life and education[edit]

Kamen was born in 1947. He grew up in the Bronx in New York City.[1] He graduated from New York University in 1969.[2] He received his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.[3]


Kamen is a frequent collaborator of French writer and director Luc Besson, who co-created The Fifth Element, The Transporter, and the Taken series. The two first worked together on the Natalie Portman and Jean Reno thriller The Professional. After the success of The Fifth Element, Besson invited Kamen to join him in his goal of creating a "mini-studio" in Europe, making "movies that would travel, international movies, you know, action movies."[4]

The Karate Kid[edit]

The Karate Kid is a semi-autobiographical story based on Kamen's life. When Kamen was 17, he was beaten up by a gang of bullies after the 1964 New York World's Fair. He thus began to study martial arts in order to defend himself.[5] Kamen was unhappy with his first teacher who taught martial arts as a tool for violence and revenge.[5] He moved on to study Okinawan Gōjū-ryū Karate under a teacher who did not speak English but himself was a student of Chōjun Miyagi.[5]

As a Hollywood screenwriter, Kamen was mentored by Frank Price, who told him that producer Jerry Weintraub had optioned a news article about the young child of a single mother who had earned a black belt to defend himself against neighborhood bullies. Kamen then combined his own life story with the news article and used both to create the screenplay for The Karate Kid.[5]

DC Comics had a character called "Karate Kid." The filmmakers received special permission from DC Comics in 1984 to use the title for the first film (and subsequent sequels).[6]


In 1980, after being paid $135,000 for his first screenplay (which was never produced), Kamen used the check to buy 280 acres of rocky land on western slopes of the Mayacamas mountains north of Sonoma in Sonoma County, California. He hired winegrower Phil Coturri to make 46 acres into a vineyard in 1981. In 1984, the first grapes were sold to local winemakers. Half the vineyard was destroyed in a fire in 1996. Kamen replanted the vineyard, and in 1999 he bottled his first Kamen-branded wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2002, Kamen hired Mark Herold to craft his wines.[7]


Year Film Credit Notes
1981 Taps Screenplay by Co-wrote screenplay with Darryl Ponicsan and James Lineberger
1982 Split Image Co-wrote screenplay with Robert Kaufman, based on a story by Scott Spencer
1984 The Karate Kid Written by
1986 The Karate Kid Part II Written by, characters created by
1989 The Karate Kid Part III
The Punisher Producer, uncredited rewrite
1992 Gladiator Screenplay by, story by Co-wrote screenplay with Lyle Kessler, co-wrote story with Djordje Milicevic, as Robert Kamen
The Power of One Screenplay by
Lethal Weapon 3 Co-wrote screenplay with Jeffrey Boam, based on a story by Jeffrey Boam
Under Siege Uncredited rewrite[8]
1993 The Fugitive
1994 The Next Karate Kid Characters created by
1995 A Walk in the Clouds Screenplay by Co-wrote with Mark Miller & Harvey Weitzman
1997 The Devil's Own Uncredited rewrite[9][10]
The Fifth Element Screenplay by Co-wrote with Luc Besson, story by Luc Besson
The Devil's Advocate Uncredited rewrite[8]
1998 Left Luggage Special thanks
2001 Kiss of the Dragon Screenplay by Co-wrote screenplay with Luc Besson, based on a story by Jet Li
2002 The Transporter Written by Co-wrote with Luc Besson
2005 Unleashed Artistic consultant, creative consultant
Transporter 2 Written by, characters created by Co-wrote with Luc Besson, characters created with Luc Besson
2006 Bandidas Written by Co-wrote with Luc Besson
2008 Taken
Transporter 3 Written by, characters created by Co-wrote with Luc Besson, characters created with Luc Besson
2010 The Karate Kid Story by
2011 Colombiana Written by Co-wrote with Luc Besson
2012 Taken 2 Written by, characters created by Co-wrote with Luc Besson, characters created with Luc Besson
2014 Brick Mansions Artistic consultant
Lucy Special thanks
Taken 3 Written by, characters created by Co-wrote with Luc Besson, characters created with Luc Besson
2015 The Transporter Refueled Characters created by Characters created with Luc Besson
2016 The Warriors Gate Written by Co-wrote with Luc Besson
2018–present Cobra Kai Characters created by Based on The Karate Kid films
2019 Angel Has Fallen Screenplay by Co-wrote with Ric Roman Waugh and Matt Cook[11]


  1. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (March 11, 2004). "Robert Mark Kamen established his roots in Hollywood. But his heart is in the hills of Sonoma, where he tends to his vineyard". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015.
  2. ^ "College News, CAS Alumni Relations" (PDF). NYU College of Arts & Science. 2016. On October 22, RobertKamen (ARTS '69) received the CAS Alumni Achievement Award from Dean Gabi Starr for his work as a screenwriter.
  3. ^ "Robert Mark Kamen". Kamen Estate Wines.
  4. ^ Gotshalk, Shira, "The Script Assassin", Writers Guild of America, February 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d Prewitt, Alex (May 1, 2018). "The Crane Kick Is Bogus: A Karate Kid Oral History". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  6. ^ Hodges, Christopher (July 30, 2019). "20 Crazy Details Behind the Making of The Karate Kid". TheThings. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  7. ^ Brown, Sunny (2008). "Kamen Estate Wines". Winegeeks. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Goldstein, Patrick (March 10, 2009). "Screenwriter Kamen is taken with director Besson". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 9, 2018.
  9. ^ Bowman, James (April 1, 1997). "Devil's Own, The". Ethics & Public Policy Center (EPPC). Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Pfeiffer, Lee; Lewis, Michael (January 1, 2002). The Films of Harrison Ford. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806523644.
  11. ^ D'Nuka, Amanda (February 23, 2018). "Tim Blake Nelson Boards 'Angel Has Fallen'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 9, 2018.

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