måndag 14 juni 2021

More Than Miyagi - The Pat Morita Story

Summer of 1985, i was only 8 years old. My little sister was just a few months old, and i remember listening to Twisted Sister´s album Stay Hungry on cassette. Most kids in my class knew the songs I Wanna Rock and of course We´re Not Gonna Take It. But i especially remember going into a friend´s room ( his name was Johan ), and he showed me the W.A.S.P. LP album known as W.A.S.P, released in 1984. He turned it on, and this was the first time i heard W.A.S.P. I would try to headbang, but realised i needed to practise more. I am sure it looked pretty lame. The album cover was the coolest i have ever seen, and thier band costumes was exactly what you wanted to wear to school. I remember Johan had a W.A.S.P. poster on his wall as well, as he talked about how much he wanted to see the band live. I don´t remember if he ever got any tickets to any of their concerts, but he was definetely the biggest W.A.S.P. fan of the West Coast of Sweden. During the summer of 1985, my dad and i was down at the VHS rental store, and one of the most rented films at that time was the 1984 film The Karate Kid, directed by John G. Avildsen ( who directed the cult classic 1976 film Rocky ). We did rent this film, and it turned out to be pretty cool. The Karate Kid tells the story of teenager Daniel LaRusso ( played by actor Ralph Macchio ) move to Reseda, Los Angeles, California, after living in Newmark, New Jersey. Daniel end up in trouble with bully Johnny Lawrence ( William Zabka ), a black belt student from the Cobra Kai dojo. To deal with this situation, Daniel gets a chance to learn karate from Okinawan immigrant named Mr. Miyagi ( played by legendary actor Pat Morita ). The Karate Kid is a classic 80´s film that definetely inspired a lot of teenagers at that time. We did get 2 more sequels with the same cast, and they are all pretty good. There was one more sequel, that was connected with the Karate Kid franchise called The Next Karate Kid, released in 1994. Ralph was no longer Daniel in this film, instead they bringed in a new character called Julie Pierce ( played by actress Hilary Swank ). It was only ok, but mostly thanks to Pat Morita´s character Mr. Miyagi. The Karate Kid franchise have been resurrected through the TV series Cobra Kai ( that you can watch on Netflix ). I have heard about a documentary film for a while that tells the story of legendary actor Pat Morita, so i just had to see this film ( since i have been a Karate Kid fan since the 80´s ). Is this the best documentary film of 2021, or does this film fail to tell the legacy of Pat Morita?

Pat Morita was a young man who worked his way into showbusiness, and became a stand up comedian. After getting praise for his performances, he worked his way into TV series such as Happy Days. But it was one film that would change his life forever, when he in 1984 portrayed the character known as Mr. Miyagi in the film The Karate Kid, that would make him a superstar. In this documentary film, you get to hear the stories from the people who knew Pat, and why he was such a unique personality.

This documenatry film does a really good job, showing us that actor ( and family man ) Pat Morita, was more than just one specific character. He worked on so many TV series, TV shows, and he really proved that he was more than just a talent. Seeing his stand up comedy performances, you realise that he had no problem doing all kinds of characters. I do believe that most fans of Pat Morita want to hear stories from the cast of the original The Karate Kid film. And we do get stories from the cast, especially from lead actor Ralph Macchio, who clearly have a lot of respect for Pat, not only for who he was in his personal life, but also as an actor. You understand the character of Mr. Miyagi even more, as you watch this documentary film. That there were some things that Pat actually had in common with the character, and that is especially sadness from his past. Pat Morita was an alcoholic, and the documentary film digs deeper into this towards the end. I think it is very good that they decided to show this side of Pat, that everything was not always perfect, and he struggled with his inner demons as many other people do in their life. The sad part of this, is that he never really could defeat his alcohol addiction. But this is what a disease does, it could happen to anyone, no matter who you are. But the legacy of Pat Morita shines very clear in this film, how much loved he was by both actors, his wife, and people all over the world who knew him as Mr. Miyagi. The interviews with the people who knew him are all very interesting, and you do get to smile over certain stories, that shows the true charming personality of Pat. Direrctor Kevin Derek have made a documentary film that does not only show what a talented actor Pat Morita was, but he also shows that he was a very beautiful soul who had a good heart, and cared for others. The legacy of Pat Morita will never go away, and no matter how many years that goes by, we all need the knowledge of Mr. Miyagi in our lives, to stand up against yourself, no matter how hard life is. More Than Miyagi - The Pat Morita Story is definetely a must watch, not only for fans of The Karate Kids films and Cobra Kai, but also to see what a disease can do with anyone, no matter what our background is. There is no doubt, this is one of the best documentary films of this year.

Rating: DDDD

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