"DANIEL LARUSSO IS GOING TO FIGHT!"
And with those six magical words, Daniel Larusso channeled his inner Willis Reed and a hero was born. Perhaps the most unlikely hero since a whiny little bitch named Luke Skywalker managed to save a galaxy far, far away from Sith-induced peril. I will always remember where I was when Daniel-san's foot of fury introduced itself to the jaw of Johnny Lawrence, thus blowing up the karate Death Star that was the Cobra Kai. (I was in a movie theater somewhere in Connecticut, probably eating something.) It was one of the seminal sports moments of the 1980's, right up there with Danny Noonan knocking down the putt at Bushwood and Rocky Balboa recapturing heavyweight gold from Clubber Lang. I mean, mere moments before the crane kick, Larusso was being fitted for a body bag, for crying out loud!
As if life didn't deal him a bad enough hand by making him unathletic and somewhat effeminate, it always seemed as though Daniel-san tried to inject a degree of difficulty into everything he did, like God was handing out style points that he could somehow use as currency later on in life. Examples of "Dan-sanity" (Daniel-san meets insanity):
- After enduring several beatdowns at the hand of Cobra Kai, D-san decides that revenge is a dish best served wet and drops a running hose into a bathroom stall where Johnny Lawrence is toking up some hippy lettuce. This of course leads to all five Cobra Kai chasing him down and laying a beatdown on him. Shockingly, D-san was unable to get to a full sprint in the ultra-clumsy"walking shower" get up that Mr. Miyagi concocted for him. (Why not try and escape them with a piano on your back next time, Daniel-san?) Fortunately, Miyagi atoned for his horrific costume-inventing skills by plundering all five Cobra Kai before they put D-san into a coma.
- Daniel-san gives Miyagi's house an entire home makeover at no charge under the guise of "this is teaching me about karate". Very believable. Of course, without this plot element, "wax on wax off" fails to become part of the American male lexicon, which would have been a shame.
- Daniel-san somehow managed to almost get to second base with Elisabeth Shue despite the following:
- His best friend is a 70-something janitor who speaks in one word grunts of broken English.
- He routinely gets his ass kicked at school. We're talking like daily.
- He's a dead ringer for the chick in "Just One of the Guys" after she cut her hair and dressed up like a gay dude.
- His mom drives him on dates.
- His mom drives a car that makes Clark Griswold's family truckster look like a BMW 7 series.
- He dresses like like he just got done valet parking cars at Maggiano's (complete with white on white outfit and red windbreaker).
- When offered a chance to choose a free car from a row of cars in his backyard by Miyagi, Daniel-san chooses the one that is the same color as Big Bird on Sesame Street. Of course, he does.
(It's worth noting here that I would pay big bucks for an exclusive interview with the character of Mrs. Larusso. Among the questions I'd ask her would be "Did it ever concern you that your son might be getting molested by a 70-something janitor when the old man (a) decided to give your son a free car, (b) decided to teach your son karate at no charge, (c) managed to convince your son to do menial household chores for a few weeks as part of said training, and (d) seemingly has no other friends (and your son doesn't either)? Just wondering." Alng those lines, I think this picture says it all...)
"Daniel-san, now do sand the floor."
But in the end, no matter what obstacles life put in his way (or that he decided to put in his own way just for fun), Daniel-san would inexplicably beat the odds. In the end, he got the girl, he got the trophy, and he got the canary yellow convertible sled. (Fortunately, Karate Kid II restores some semblance of order when we find out Ali (Elisabeth Shue) broke up with him at the prom and crashed the Mello Yello Mobile.)
So on this glorious day, D-san, we honor you ... Happy 46th birthday! And BANZAI!!!!