Then and now: 'The Karate Kid'

Posted: June 23, 2014

JUST AS Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel-san the art of trimming the bonsai - careful and deliberate, shaping it to its perfect form - so have gone the lives of the actors who played those iconic characters on the big screen 30 years ago.

Ralph Macchio, a/k/a "The Karate Kid," and co-star Martin Kove were among the celebrities who appeared at Wizard World's Philadelphia Comic Con, which has taken over the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Day two of festivities featured a top-drawer collection of well-known comics, artists, writers and celebrities. With no shortage of painted faces and form-fitting costumes, Comic Con draws hundreds of thousands of attendees who roam the convention floor all weekend for a taste of pop-culture fandom.

For a few minutes yesterday, Macchio and Kove dished with the Daily News on then and now - how their lives have changed since the movie's 1984 release.

Kove, who played John Kreese, the sensei of Daniel's main adversary and antagonist in the film, dispelled some myths about the ruthless teacher who sneers at the concepts of mercy and restraint.

"When he came back [from the Army], [Kreese] vows to his kids he would never lose, ever again, under any costs," Kove said.

"He would triumph no matter what, which feeds into my story. What's evolved for me is a sense of knowing what an iconic film like 'Karate Kid' could do in regard to kids suffering from romantic problems, bullying problems, fish-out-of-water situations. They've learned so much from the movie."

Wax on! Macchio, who played Daniel LaRusso, was 22 at the time of filming, and admits he has aged gracefully. A row of families filed in line patiently to meet him.

What does he and his character have in common?

"We both look exactly alike," he quipped.

"We're both from the East Coast. One is aging slowly, the other one absolutely never ages. One character is frozen in time from 30 years ago."

Did any of that training do any good in real life?

"I like to think I'm wiser. I'd like to think if someone confronted me to kick my ass, I'd probably get out of it instead of getting kicked in the face."

Kove, who plays the callous and demanding sensei, said that even today, he is approached by fans who express how the movie affected them.

"So many generations . . . I've had kids come up to me who were 10 years old and saw the movie and now they have 30 dojos," he said.

"Grand masters would come up and say, 'You don't know what you've done for the karate world.' It really humbles you."

On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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