The Karate Kid (franchise)

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The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid franchise logo
Created byRobert Mark Kamen
Original workThe Karate Kid (1984)
Owned byColumbia Pictures
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Films and television
Television seriesCobra Kai (2018–present)
Animated seriesThe Karate Kid (1989)
Video game(s)

The Karate Kid is an American martial arts drama multi-media franchise, created by screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen. The franchise began in 1984 with The Karate Kid, and was followed by three film sequels: The Karate Kid Part II (1986), The Karate Kid Part III (1989) and The Next Karate Kid (1994). Cobra Kai, a television series that serves as a sequel to the films, premiered in 2018.

The success of the first two films spawned an animated television series that aired in 1989, while a remake film centered on kung fu was released in 2010, set outside of the main story and featuring a similar plot to the original film.

While the first film garnered critical acclaim, critics were less enthusiastic about its sequels. However, the Cobra Kai television series garnered critical and audience acclaim.[1] Furthermore, the franchise has also had a lasting influence on both karate culture and teen film narratives in America.[2][3]


Film U.S. release date Director(s) Writer(s) Producer(s)
The Karate Kid June 22, 1984 (1984-06-22) John G. Avildsen Robert Mark Kamen Jerry Weintraub
The Karate Kid Part II June 20, 1986 (1986-06-20)
The Karate Kid Part III June 30, 1989 (1989-06-30)
The Next Karate Kid September 9, 1994 (1994-09-09) Christopher Cain Mark Lee
The Karate Kid June 11, 2010 (2010-06-11) Harald Zwart Christopher Murphey Jerry Weintraub, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith,
James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz

The Karate Kid (1984)[edit]

Daniel LaRusso and his mother have just moved to Reseda, Los Angeles from Newark, New Jersey at the start of the school year. Befriending classmate Ali Mills, he comes into conflict with Ali's ex-boyfriend and star pupil of the "Cobra Kai" dojo Johnny Lawrence and his gang. After being beaten up by the Cobra Kai gang in an after-school fight, Daniel finds an unlikely friend and karate sensei in his apartment complex's handyman, Mr. Miyagi, a proficient karate master. Making a deal with Johnny's merciless sensei, John Kreese, to end the fighting, Miyagi trains Daniel to compete at the All-Valley Karate Tournament.

The Karate Kid Part II (1986)[edit]

Immediately following the All-Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny is attacked by his furious sensei, John Kreese, in the parking lot. Mr. Miyagi intervenes, rescuing Johnny and passively humiliating Kreese in the process. Six months later, Miyagi receives a letter about his ailed father and plans to return to his home village on Okinawa Island. With Daniel in tow, Miyagi's past catches up with him as an old rivalry with a former friend is reignited.

The Karate Kid Part III (1989)[edit]

One year after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament, John Kreese is now broke after losing all of his students. After visiting his Vietnam War comrade, rich businessman Terry Silver, Silver sends him on vacation to Tahiti promising to re-establish the Cobra Kai dojo and get revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Meanwhile, Daniel and Miyagi have returned home from Okinawa to find Daniel's apartment building under reconstruction and his mother back in New Jersey taking care of a sick relative; Miyagi invites Daniel to stay with him. When Miyagi refuses to train Daniel to defend his title at the tournament, Daniel happens across Silver who offers to train him Cobra Kai-style.

The Next Karate Kid (1994)[edit]

Attending a commemorative service in Boston, Massachusetts for the Japanese-American soldiers who fought in the 442nd Infantry Regiment in World War II, Mr. Miyagi reacquaints with Louisa Pierce, the widow of his commanding officer. Louisa introduces him to her rebellious teenage granddaughter Julie, whose anger issues – resulting from her parents' deaths – make life difficult for Louisa. Offering to help, Miyagi sends Louisa to his home in Los Angeles for respite while he works to mentor Julie. Julie initially rebuffs Miyagi's help, but warms to him after coming into conflict with the leader of her school's shady security fraternity, Ned.

The Karate Kid (2010)[edit]

Dre Parker and his mother move from Detroit to Beijing after she transfers jobs. He befriends Meiying, a young musician who goes to his school, but draws the unwanted attention of Cheng, a kung fu prodigy whose family is close to Meiying's. Cheng and his friends relentlessly bully Dre at school to keep him away from Meiying, resulting in a fight on a school field trip where Dre is beaten up before being saved by his apartment building's maintenance man, Mr. Han. After failing to end the bullying by talking with Cheng's ruthless kung fu teacher, Mr. Han agrees to train Dre to compete at an upcoming kung fu tournament.

Television series[edit]

Series Season Episodes First released Last released Showrunner(s) Network(s)
The Karate Kid 1 13 September 9, 1989 (1989-09-09) December 16, 1989 (1989-12-16) Larry Houston NBC
Cobra Kai 1 10 May 2, 2018 (2018-05-02) Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg YouTube Premium
2 10 April 24, 2019 (2019-04-24)

The Karate Kid (1989)[edit]

A miniature shrine with mystical properties has been stolen from its resting place in Okinawa; Daniel and Miyagi are tasked with locating it and returning it home. Joined by Taki Tamurai, the group searches the globe on a series of adventures to keep the shrine out of dangerous hands.

Cobra Kai (2018–)[edit]

34 years after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence has just lost his job. After getting arrested for rescuing his teenage neighbour Miguel Diaz from a group of bullies, then getting cut-loose by his step-father, Johnny agrees to teach Miguel karate and reopens the Cobra Kai dojo, attracting social outcasts who build their self-confidence under his aggressive tutelage. Meanwhile, Daniel LaRusso owns a successful chain of car dealerships but struggles to keep a balanced life without the guidance of his now-deceased mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Johnny's estranged son, Robby Keene, comes under Daniel's wing – initially not knowing Robby's parentage – giving Robby a job at his car dealership and mentoring him with Miyagi's life lessons. Daniel and Johnny come into conflict after Cobra Kai's return is made public, while Daniel's daughter Samantha gets caught in the middle.


Characters Films Television series
The Karate Kid The Karate Kid Part II The Karate Kid Part III The Next Karate Kid The Karate Kid The Karate Kid Cobra Kai
1984 1986 1989 1994 2010 1989 2018–present
Daniel LaRusso Ralph Macchio Joey Dedio Ralph Macchio
Mr. Miyagi Noriyuki "Pat" Morita Noriyuki "Pat" Morita Noriyuki "Pat" Morita Robert Ito Noriyuki "Pat" Morita
(archive footage)
Fumio Demura
(martial arts double)
Fumio Demura
(martial arts double)
John Kreese Martin Kove Martin Kove
Johnny Lawrence William Zabka William Zabka
(archive footage)
William Zabka
Owen D. Stone
Ali Mills Elisabeth Shue Elisabeth Shue
(archive footage)
Elisabeth Shue
(archive footage)
Lucille LaRusso Randee Heller Randee Heller
(archive footage)
Randee Heller Randee Heller
Bobby Brown Ron Thomas Ron Thomas
(uncredited, archive footage)
Ron Thomas
Tommy Rob Garrison Rob Garrison
(archive footage)
Rob Garrison
Dutch Chad McQueen Chad McQueen
(archive footage)
Chad McQueen
(archive footage)
Jimmy Tony O'Dell Tony O'Dell
(archive footage)
Tony O'Dell
Freddy Fernandez Israel Juarbe Isarel Jurabe
(archive footage)
Mrs. Milo Frances Bay Frances Bay
Sato Toguchi Danny Kamekona
Chozen Toguchi Yuji Okumoto
Kumiko Tamlyn Tomita
Yukie Nobu McCarthy
Miyagi's Father Charlie Tanimoto
Terence "Terry" Silver Thomas Ian Griffith Thomas Ian Griffith
(archive footage)
Michael "Mike" Barnes Sean Kanan
Jessica Andrews Robyn Lively
Julie Pierce Hilary Swank
Louisa Pierce Constance Towers
Ned Randall Michael Cavelieri
Eric McGowen Chris Conrad
Colonel Paul Dugan Michael Ironside
Angel the Hawk Frank Welker
Dre Parker Jaden Smith
Mr. Han Jackie Chan
Meiying Wenwen Han
Cheng Zhenwang Zhang
Sherry Parker Taraji P. Henson
Master Li Rongguang Yu
Harry Luke Carberry
Taki Tamurai Janice Kawaye
Amanda LaRusso Courtney Henggeler
Miguel Diaz Xolo Maridueña
Robby Keene Tanner Buchanan
Samantha "Sam" LaRusso Mary Mouser
Reese TinLee
Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz Jacob Bertrand
Demetri Gianni Decenzo


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Budget
The Karate Kid (1984) June 22, 1984 $90,815,558   $90,815,558 $8 million[4][5]
The Karate Kid Part II June 20, 1986 $115,103,979   $115,103,979 $13 million[citation needed][6]
The Karate Kid Part III June 30, 1989 $38,956,288 $38,956,288 $12.5 million[citation needed][7]
The Next Karate Kid September 9, 1994 $8,914,777 $6,912,207 $15,826,984 $12 million[citation needed][8]
The Karate Kid (2010) June 11, 2010 $176,591,618 $182,534,404 $359,126,022 $40 million[9]
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  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

Critical response[edit]

Film/Television Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Cinemascore
The Karate Kid (1984) 88% (43 reviews)[10] 60 (15 reviews)[11] N/A
The Karate Kid Part II 42% (24 reviews)[12] 55 (9 reviews)[13] A–[14]
The Karate Kid Part III 16% (32 reviews)[15] 36 (12 reviews)[16] B–[14]
The Next Karate Kid 7% (27 reviews)[17] 36 (15 reviews)[18] B+[14]
The Karate Kid (2010) 66% (206 reviews)[19] 61 (37 reviews)[20] A[14]
Cobra Kai: Season 1 100% (42 reviews)[21] 72 (11 reviews)[22] N/A
Cobra Kai: Season 2 88% (24 reviews)[23] 66 (7 reviews)[24] N/A

"Karate Kid" title[edit]

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 consequent sequels).[25]

In 1994, a Karate teacher named Bill DeClemente filed a lawsuit against those involved in the Karate Kid films, claiming that he owned the rights to the title The Karate Kid. [26] A New York court dismissed the case in 1997, stating that it was a "nickname" for DeClemente, known to only a few people.[27]


The film spawned a franchise of related items and memorabilia such as action figures, head bands, posters, T-shirts, and a video game. A novelization was made by B.B. Hiller and published in 1984. The novel had a scene that was in the rehearsal when Daniel encounters Johnny during school at lunch. Also at the end, there was a battle between Miyagi and Kreese in the parking lot after the tournament which was the original ending for the film and used as the beginning of The Karate Kid Part II. A video game based on the second film, titled The Karate Kid Part II: The Computer Game, was released in 1987.

In 2015, toy company Funko revived The Karate Kid action figures. Two versions of character Daniel Larusso, a version of character Johnny Lawrence and a version of Mr. Miyagi were part of the line. The toys were spotted at retailers Target and[28]

Cultural influence[edit]

The series has been credited for popularizing Karate in the United States.[29][30]

The 2007 music video for the song "Sweep the Leg" by No More Kings stars William Zabka (who also directed the video) as a caricature of himself and features references to The Karate Kid, including cameo appearances by Zabka's former Karate Kid co-stars.[31][32]

Macchio and Zabka made a guest appearance as themselves in the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Bro Mitzvah". In the episode, Macchio is invited to Barney Stinson's bachelor party, leading to Barney shouting that he hates Macchio and that Johnny was the real hero of The Karate Kid. Towards the end of the episode, a clown in the party wipes off his makeup and reveals himself as Zabka.[33]


  1. ^ Cobra Kai, retrieved 2019-07-07
  2. ^ Forbes, Bruce David; Mahan, Jeffrey H. (November 17, 2005). Religion and Popular Culture in America (First ed.). Oakland, California: University of California Press. p. 31. ISBN 0520246896.
  3. ^ Driscoll, Catherine (June 1, 2011). Teen Film: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Berg Publishers. p. 136. ISBN 1847886868.
  4. ^ "The Karate Kid (1984) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  5. ^ "The Karate Kid (1984)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "The Karate Kid Part II (1986)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  7. ^ "The Karate Kid Part III (1989)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "The Next Karate Kid (1994)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "The Karate Kid (2010)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  10. ^ "The Karate Kid (1984)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  11. ^ The Karate Kid, retrieved 2019-07-07
  12. ^ "The Karate Kid Part II (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  13. ^ The Karate Kid Part II, retrieved 2019-07-07
  14. ^ a b c d "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  15. ^ "The Karate Kid Part III (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  16. ^ The Karate Kid Part III, retrieved 2019-07-07
  17. ^ "The Next Karate Kid (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  18. ^ The Next Karate Kid, retrieved 2019-07-07
  19. ^ "The Karate Kid (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  20. ^ "The Karate Kid Reviews". CBS Interactive. Metacritic. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  21. ^ "Cobra Kai". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  22. ^ Cobra Kai, retrieved 2019-07-07
  23. ^ "Cobra Kai". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  24. ^ Cobra Kai, retrieved 2019-07-07
  25. ^ Hodges, Christopher (2019-07-30). "20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of The Karate Kid". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  26. ^ DeClemente, Bill (May 1994). "The One and Only Karate Kid". Black Belt. p. 15. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  27. ^ Wallace, Amy (1997-12-10). "Lights! Camera! Lawyers?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-05-13.
  28. ^ "The Karate Kid (1984) Action Figures have been Revived by Funko". Z.Love's Entertainment Blog. 2015-10-10. Retrieved 2015-10-10.
  29. ^ Powell, Larry; Garrett, Tom (20 December 2013). "The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid and Other Underdogs". McFarland. Retrieved 28 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  30. ^ M.D, Lyle J. Micheli (17 November 2010). "Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine". SAGE Publications. Retrieved 28 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ Frye, Cory (March 10, 2018). "Of Being and Johnny Lawrence (Sweep the Leg)". Albany Democrat-Herald. Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  32. ^ Strauss, Chris (October 9, 2014). "'Karate Kid' villain Billy Zabka is still best friends with the Cobra Kais". USA Today. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  33. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (April 29, 2013). "'How I Met Your Mother' recap, 'Bro Mitzvah': The REAL Karate Kid". Retrieved May 12, 2018.

External links[edit]