Ralph Macchio as Daniel
1984 – Age: 23 | 2022 – Age: 61
Daniel LaRusso was born on December 18, 1966, in Newark, New Jersey, into an Italian-American family. When he was eight years old, his father David LaRusso died after a 2-year battle with stomach cancer. Daniel’s mother Lucille never remarried. In September 1984, Daniel and Lucille moved to Reseda, California, after Lucille accepted a job offer at a computer firm. Shortly after moving to California, Daniel meets and starts a rivalry with Johnny Lawrence, the two-time winner of the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championship after Daniel tried going after his ex-girlfriend Ali Mills. Luckily for Daniel, after being jumped by Johnny and his friends, he met a Karate Master where he lived named Mr. Miyagi, who became his karate mentor and also a very good friend of his, as well as a father figure. It’s through this training that Daniel became skilled enough to defeat Johnny in the tournament’s final match and become the new champion. Daniel and Johnny became rivals, and the rivalry has been going on for thirty-five years.
Pat Morita as Miyagi
1984 – Age: 52 | Died: 2005 – Age: 73
Miyagi was born on June 9, 1925, in Okinawa, Japan. He learned fishing and karate from his father, a fisherman, and worked for the richest man in the village, whose son Sato was Miyagi’s best friend. In a departure from the local tradition of fathers only teaching karate to their own sons, Miyagi’s father also taught Sato at his son’s request. However, their friendship soured when Miyagi fell in love with Yukie, who was arranged to marry Sato. Dishonored by their love, Sato challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death, and Miyagi chose to emigrate to the United States rather than fight his best friend.
Emigrating to Hawaii as a teenager, he worked as a farm laborer in the Hawaiian cane fields, where he met his wife, who was also a farm laborer.
He and his wife were later interned in the Manzanar Japanese-American internment camp at the onset of World War II. During this time, Miyagi joined the U.S. Army and received the Medal of Honor. He was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, historically the most highly decorated regiment, for its size, of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients (at the time of the Karate Kid film series, there was only one regiment member awarded the Medal of Honor—Sadao S. Munemori, who received it posthumously in 1946; 20 other regiment members were upgraded from the Distinguished Service Cross in 2000). While in the Army, he taught his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jack Pierce, the art of karate. During his service, Mrs. Miyagi and their newborn son died in the Manzanar camp due to complications during childbirth, a loss that haunted him for decades.
What Miyagi did during the time between the war and the first Karate Kid film is not fully known beyond that he purchased a private residence in Los Angeles, and painstakingly cultivated a lush garden area in his backyard. He worked for an unknown amount of time as a maintenance attendant in the apartment complex LaRusso and his mother moved into from New Jersey. This is when the two characters met for the first time.
Elisabeth Shue as Ali
1984 – Age: 21 | 2022 – Age: 59
Ali Mills grew up in a wealthy family in Encino, Los Angeles, where she was a high school cheerleader. During high school, she took a keen interest from Daniel into learning to play soccer, and was an avid gamer who enjoys spending time at a local Arcade where she excelled at all of the machines such as Pac-Man.
After attending UCLA and then medical school, she became a pediatric surgeon and settled in Denver, Colorado. She has two children and is divorcing her husband, Dr. Gregory Schwarber, an oncologist whom she met in medical school.
William Zabka as Johnny
1984 – Age: 19 | 2022 – Age: 57
In The Karate Kid, Johnny is the top student of the Cobra Kai dojo, leader of the Cobra Kai gang, and two-time defending champion of the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament. Before the events of the film, his girlfriend Ali Mills broke up with him after a two-year relationship. One night at a beach party, Johnny confronts Ali about their breakup and starts getting violent. New Jersey native Daniel LaRusso, who recently moved to the area, tries to stick up for Ali, and Johnny beats him up with his karate skills. Over the next few weeks, Johnny and his Cobra Kai gang harass Daniel in and out of school. At a Halloween dance, Daniel soaks Johnny in the bathroom with a hose while he is rolling a joint, prompting Johnny and the other Cobras to chase him down and beat him until Mr. Miyagi, the maintenance man of Daniel’s apartment building, intervenes and defeats Johnny and his gang. The next day, Mr. Miyagi confronts Kreese at the Cobra Kai dojo and proposes that Daniel and Johnny’s feud be settled in the upcoming tournament. Kreese agrees, but warns that if they do not attend the tournament, both Daniel and Mr. Miyagi will be declared fair game to Cobra Kai.
At the tournament, Johnny quickly advances to the finals, scoring three unanswered points against a highly skilled opponent in his semi-final match. When Daniel reaches the semi-finals, Bobby Brown, one of the more compassionate Cobras and the least vicious of Daniel’s tormentors, reluctantly (under orders from Kreese) strikes Daniel’s knee with an illegal kick, getting himself disqualified while Johnny looks at Kreese in disgust. Before Johnny is declared the victor by default, Ali informs the tournament announcer that Daniel will fight in the final round. During the fight, Daniel gets the upper hand and gives Johnny a bloody nose. Kreese orders Johnny to sweep Daniel’s leg, considered unethical because of Daniel’s injury. Fearing his sensei, Johnny manages to land an elbow on Daniel’s bad leg, receiving a warning from the referee. Upon the restart of the round, Johnny loses the match after Daniel lands a crane kick to his face. Having gained a new respect for his nemesis, Johnny personally gives Daniel the trophy.
Martin Kove as Kreese
1984 – Age: 38 | 2022 – Age: 76
As a sensei, Kreese instructs his students to have no mercy towards their opponents.
In 1984, Kreese’s best student, Johnny Lawrence, has a conflict with Daniel LaRusso. In response, Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel karate. When Daniel and Mr. Miyagi go to the Cobra Kai dojo, Mr. Miyagi proposes that Daniel should enter the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament, where he will face the Cobra Kai students and demands that the conflict will cease while Daniel trains. Kreese agrees to the idea, but threatens to allow his students to continue their harassment if neither show up at the tournament. At the tournament, Daniel reaches the semi-finals while Johnny advances to the finals after defeating a highly skilled opponent. Kreese instructs Bobby Brown, one of his more compassionate students and the least vicious of Daniel’s tormentors, to disable Daniel with an illegal attack on the knee. Bobby reluctantly does so, getting disqualified in the process. However, Daniel recovers and ultimately defeats Johnny, becoming the new champion.
Randee Heller as Lucille
1984 – Age: 37 | 2022 – Age: 75
Lucille LaRusso (Randee Heller) is Daniel’s mother. She is a widow who relocates Daniel from New Jersey to Southern California due to her computer job transfer. It seems to have worked out well for her, as she later tells Daniel she was promoted and will be required to go to a manager’s training program two nights a week. Although Lucille is a down-to-earth and independent woman, she is greatly concerned about Daniel’s harassment from Johnny and his gang, an issue which is shared by Mr. Miyagi. She gets along well with Ali, and in contrast to the formality of Ali’s parents, refers to herself as “Lucille” rather than “Mrs. LaRusso.” She is a strong influence in Daniel’s life and supports Mr. Miyagi’s influence in his life.
In the sequel series Cobra Kai, she is shown to initially have a troubled relationship with Daniel’s wife Amanda, which they resolve through the intervention of Daniel and Amanda’s daughter, Samantha. Lucille has fond memories of Mr. Miyagi and his support of her family. She also shares memories of her late husband, Daniel’s father, with Daniel when he is having marital difficulties with Amanda.
Ron Thomas as Bobby
1984 – Age: 23 | 2022 – Age: 61
Bobby Brown (Ron Thomas) is a friend of Johnny and a fellow student at the Cobra Kai dojo. Bobby is Kreese’s second-best student and was runner-up to Johnny in the All-Valley Tournament the previous year, though Johnny’s most prominent right-hand man appeared to be Dutch. Although one of Johnny’s gang (he slide tackles Daniel during soccer tryouts on the first day of school, prompting Daniel to tackle him and land a punch to his face, thus getting Daniel kicked out of the tryouts), Bobby is seen as a more compassionate character than his friends. He tries to stop Johnny from ruining the beach party, stop him from harassing Daniel, and from doing further damage to Daniel during the fight alongside the South Sea apartments during the Halloween party. During the Semi-finals of the tournament, Kreese orders Bobby to put Daniel “out of commission,” which Bobby reluctantly attempts to do by landing a kick to Daniel’s knee, severely injuring him. After the kick, Bobby drops down and sincerely and profusely apologizes to a pain-ridden Daniel before being pulled off him and disqualified. Because Daniel was unable to continue at that time and Bobby being disqualified, he is the only Cobra Kai member that Daniel doesn’t defeat. In the film’s novelization, Bobby – remorseful for injuring Daniel and disgusted at not being able to fight him fairly – walks over to Kreese and throws his black belt onto the floor. He then quits Cobra Kai and leaves the arena. In the parking lot confrontation following the tournament, Bobby defends Johnny from an angry Kreese, stating that Johnny has apologized for his performance. When Kreese attacks Johnny, Bobby attempts to intervene but is assaulted by Kreese. After he is saved by Mr. Miyagi, he leaves Cobra Kai for good.
Rob Garrison as Tommy
1984 – Age: 24 | Died: 2019 – Age: 59
Tommy (Rob Garrison) is another friend of Johnny and a fellow student at the Cobra Kai dojo. He is known for being the most vocal and sarcastic of the Cobra Kai gang. He is the third Cobra Kai member to be defeated by Daniel in the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament and afterward, he is heard cheering Johnny on from the sidelines during the final match with Daniel. His most memorable line in the movie is “Get him a body bag. Yeah!” after Johnny re-aggravates Daniel’s leg injury. He also had another memorable quote when Ali is seen walking with Daniel at school; he yells out in anger towards them “It must be ‘take a worm for a walk week.'” Though Tommy delights in the endless hazing of Daniel by the Cobra Kai, he is clearly shocked and dismayed when Bobby reluctantly injures Daniel’s leg on Kreese’s command. In the parking lot confrontation following the tournament where Kreese scolds Johnny for losing, Tommy pleads with Kreese to release Johnny from the chokehold that he has him in, even going so far as to furiously and adamantly agreeing with Mr. Miyagi’s demands to let him go. Kreese refuses and even strikes Tommy in the face, knocking him to the ground. After Mr. Miyagi defeats a humiliated Kreese, Tommy leaves Cobra Kai for good.
Chad McQueen as Dutch
1984 – Age: 24 | 2022 – Age: 62
Dutch (Chad McQueen) is Johnny’s main friend and a fellow student at the Cobra Kai dojo. Dutch is also the most brutal of the gang, and takes pleasure in bullying Daniel. He can be seen hopping up and down whenever the Cobras confront Daniel as they are about to beat him, even confronting him in the locker room before the start of the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament and telling Daniel he is “dead meat.” He is the fourth Cobra Kai member to be defeated by Daniel during the tournament before facing Bobby in the semi-final round. It is rumored that a deleted scene exists of Dutch becoming angered by Daniel scoring a point on him, resulting in him tackling Daniel to the mat in a scuffle and being pulled away by tournament officials, leading to his disqualification. This would explain why it appeared that Daniel won their match after only scoring a single point. In contrast to his friends, Dutch cracks a smile after Kreese orders Bobby to put Daniel “out of commission.” Dutch also appears with the other Cobra Kais when Kreese assaults Johnny for coming in second place. Despite pleas from the others for Kreese to stop, Dutch is notably silent, his face is partly hidden under a baseball cap and he turns away once Kreese places Johnny in the chokehold. When the dust settles, he leaves Cobra Kai along with Johnny and the other students.
Dutch has not appeared in Cobra Kai yet due to McQueen’s scheduling conflicts, but aspects of his life are revealed by other characters in season two. While reminiscing about high school, Johnny, Tommy, and Jimmy talk about how in 1984, the Cobra Kai gang went out one weekend and were so drunk that Dutch broke a dartboard at a bar, sending him to juvenile hall. They also referred to the fact that Dutch is currently serving a 5 to 10-year prison sentence at Lompoc Federal Penitentiary.
Tony O’Dell as Jimmy
1984 – Age: 24 | 2022 – Age: 62
Jimmy (Tony O’Dell) is another friend of Johnny and a fellow student at the Cobra Kai dojo. Jimmy is known for being the quietest member (having only a couple of lines in the film) and the only brown belt in Johnny’s quintet group. He is the second Cobra Kai member to be defeated by Daniel in the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament. Jimmy expresses shock when Bobby is ordered by Kreese to injure Daniel and is present when Kreese attacks Johnny following his loss and second-place showing. Although he does not physically nor verbally intervene, he shows disgust at Kreese. After Mr. Miyagi defeats Kreese, he leaves Cobra Kai for good.
William Bassett as Mr. Mills
1984 – Age: 49 | 2022 – Age: 87
Ali’s father Mr. Mills (William Bassett), and her mother, Mrs. Mills (Sharon Spelman) appear to silently judge Daniel when Ali introduces them in front of her house. Mrs. Mills prefers Johnny, whom she dances with at the country club, before trading partners with Ali, who is dancing with her father. At that moment, Ali and Mr. Mills are having a difficult conversation, where he conveys his disappointment that Ali would rather go out with “that boy from Reseda” again instead of Johnny. Over thirty years later (Season 3, Episode 9 of Cobra Kai), Ali returns home to spend Christmas with her parents. After Mrs. Mills (Deborah May) returns home from Christmas shopping for Ali’s children, she asks Ali to come to the holiday party the next evening. Ali later tells Johnny that her parents disapprove of her upcoming divorce.
Larry B. Scott as Jerry
1984 – Age: 23 | 2022 – Age: 61
Jerry Robertson (Larry B. Scott) Another student at the Cobra Kai dojo; however, he is not a part of Johnny’s gang. He is the brown belt student who is defeated by Bobby in a sparring match at the dojo. He was also the first Cobra Kai member defeated by Daniel in the 1984 All Valley Under-18 Karate Championships tournament.
Tom Fridley as Alan
1984 – Age: 19 | 2022 – Age: 57
Tom Fridley was born on February 15, 1965 in the USA. He is known for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986), Face/Off (1997) and Phenomenon (1996).
Pat E. Johnson as Referee
1984 – Age: 45 | 2022 – Age: 83
The Referee of the ring is played by Pat E. Johnson in the first three Karate Kid films. He was seen outside his tournament duties in each of the three films.
Frances Bay as Lady with Dog
1984 – Age: 65 | Died: 2011 – Age: 92
“I always wanted to be an actress. And it wasn’t ego. I felt so little about myself, considered myself such a sparrow. Not just my size. I thought I was so plain … I did plays not to show off but because if I did that — I didn’t realize it at the time — I would be somebody other than this person I didn’t really approve of. I think that’s true of a lot of actors.” ~
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