One of many issues I like concerning the hit Netflix sequence “Cobra Kai” is how Mr. Miyagi’s presence looms giant within the lifetime of the grown-up Daniel LaRusso, although he has lengthy since handed away. Daniel quotes and references Mr. Miyagi, he visits his grave, and we see the good man in flashback sequences culled from the “Karate Child” motion pictures.
Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, the person who introduced Mr. Miyagi to life in 4 “Karate Child” movies within the Eighties and Nineties and was nominated for finest supporting actor for the primary within the sequence, died in 2005, however his legacy lives on by way of these motion pictures and within the Netflix sequence, which has launched the smart and robust and humorous and fantastic Miyagi to an entire new technology of followers.
However there was way more to Morita than his most memorable function, as evidenced within the title of the documentary “Extra Than Miyagi,” a lovingly compiled tribute to a groundbreaking comic and actor who was adored by his colleagues and beloved by the followers — however wrestled with alcoholism for many years, finally succumbing to signs introduced on by the illness. Morita was the lifetime of any get together, a ray of sunshine in any room he entered, however sadly suffered from a debilitating illness that sidelined his profession and certainly prompted a lot private strife.
Director Kevin Derek does a strong, easy job of blending archival clips of Morita throughout his nascent years as a humorist and visitor star on sitcoms; footage of Morita as Arnold on “Comfortable Days” and the lead on the short-lived sequence “Mr. T and Tina,” and interviews with “Karate Child” co-stars Ralph Macchio, William Zabka and Martin Kove and screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen, “Comfortable Days” colleagues Marion Ross, Henry Winkler, Anson Williams and Don Most, in addition to Morita’s third spouse, Evelyn, who shares house video footage and speaks with nice love about Morita and with admirable candidness about his battles with habit.
The movie reminds us of how uncommon it was to see an Asian actor on tv or within the motion pictures within the Nineteen Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, after many years of white actors doing “yellow face” caricatures, e.g., John Wayne in “The Conqueror,” Marlon Brando in “The Teahouse of the August Moon” and Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (a real horror present). Morita’s tv work and particularly his portrayal of Miyagi helped to interrupt boundaries and dispel outdated stereotypes. (Considerably satirically given Morita’s alcoholism, probably the most resonant scene in “The Karate Child” by way of giving a three-dimensional backstory to Miyagi is when he will get drunk and tells Daniel concerning the lack of his spouse and son.)
We’re informed “Karate Child” producer Jerry Weintraub was adamantly against hiring Arnold from “Comfortable Days” to play Miyagi, and solely reluctantly agreed after Morita’s fifth audition. Weintraub later mentioned he nearly made the largest mistake of his profession by overlooking Morita. It’s to our nice profit he lastly noticed the sunshine, and Morita created one of the memorable characters of the final 40 years. He was certainly greater than Miyagi, however that alone would have earned him a particular place in Hollywood historical past.