Thursday, 3 February 2011

Best Supporting Actor 1984: Pat Morita in The Karate Kid

Pat Morita received his only Oscar nomination for portraying Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid.

The Karate Kid is an entertaining classic.

Pat Morita's performance has become a classic mentor role He is a nice mostly stoic Asian man who helps obnoxious Danielson (Ralph Macchio) learn how to fight against the evil Cobra Kai bullies he must face. Morita has that stoic, slightly humorous manner of Miyagi down well in the film. That technically Morita made seem so natural to his character that most assumed he actually was merely like Miyagi, where in fact he wasn't at all. Now Morita in the role makes Miyagi an impressive teacher but offers such warmth in the teaching. Morita technically fashioned what has become an iconic performance and such an achievement should not be hand waved. Miyagi is able to capture that power of a personal philosophy. He brings a great heart in his personal manner, yet is not naive in his portrayal. This is seen when Daniel doesn't listen or when faces down the rival sensei. Morita has terrific chemistry with Macchio as Daniel, as both the teacher but also sometimes as a comedic straight man. One aspect that often seems forgotten is that Morita has an Oscar scene. The scene consists of him being drunk and "celebrating" his anniversary with his deceased wife. Morita delivers in the scene offering what is below the stoic surface of Miyagi to reveal the very real pain in the past and it is moving scene that likely did secure him his Oscar nomination. Morita's performance is most remembered for those smaller moments, which should be credit to Morita. Whether it is practicing the crane kick, taking down the bad guys, or giving Daniel such a pleasant smile and nod at victory, Morita simply is as Miyagi should be.

2 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Yeah, I don't really hate it, just don't think of it as something worthy of an Oscar.

dinasztie said...

I saw this a billion years ago, so I don't remember.