Even if you adore the Karate Kid franchise as much as I do, you'd probably agree that once they arrived at part three, the series lost a lot of what made the first two films so memorable. Part three felt like a blatant cash grab, and it always bugged me that no one -- not even Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote the first three installments -- could come up with a better story than a rehash of the original Karate Kid, except with an even meaner (and sillier) villain. The entire film just feels unnecessary, and all these years later Kamen has explained why.
In an interview with Crave Online, Kamen went off on Karate Kid III, saying the final version is not the story he wanted to tell. He wanted the third film to be a prequel of sorts, which traveled back to 16th century China to tell the story of Mr. Miyagi's ancestors through a fever dream that Daniel has while in a coma. " I was going to tell the saga in reverse," he says. "Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are in a boat. It all happens when Daniel gets hit on the head and he has a dream. He’s in a coma or something and they see a boat in the mist. It docks and Mr. Miyagi and Daniel follow the first Miyagi ancestor into China and then they get involved in this thing. It would’ve been really cool but nobody wanted to do it."
Kamen says he wanted to make an all-out kung fu movie with "flying people," but that no one wanted to make that movie. "I wanted to do a Hong Kong kung fu movie. That’s what I wanted to do. Guy McElwaine, rest his soul, refused to do it. He wouldn’t do it. Jerry [Weintraub] wouldn’t do it. They didn’t want to mess with the franchise and I felt very strongly that doing the same story all over again was f***ing boring so I didn’t do it and they hired somebody else to do a draft."
He goes on to say that no other writer could write the characters the way he could, so they eventually circled back to Kamen, asked him how much it would take to convince him to write the version they wanted, and, well, he was made an offer he couldn't refuse. Thus, The Karate Kid III was born.
While it's interesting to hear about this other version, we're not sure it would've worked. What I, a monster Karate Kid fan, would've liked to see was a return to America, but this time Daniel has to become the mentor. It would've been nice to see all of the knowledge he acquired over the first two films be put to the test when he's in a position to mentor someone who needs help. Oh well.
What do you think? Would the third installment have worked as a kung fu movie with flying people?
Bonus: Watch: An Entire Alternate Version of 1984's 'The Karate Kid' Exists Online
Follow along on Twitter @ErikDavis and @Moviesdotcom.