Game Time: Larusso Vs. Skywalker, The Death Match

I'm not afraid to admit it, I'm a huge fan of The Karate Kid. And I'm not just talking "guilty pleasure" fan.

No sir, not only do I actually own all three DVD's in the Karate Kid trilogy, but my Karate Kid III DVD actually has some scenes that skip because of wear and tear. Yeah, you heard me, the Karate Kid movie whose central storyline involved a Wall Street tycoon spending every waking moment of his day trying to figure out a way to mentally and physically destroy a skinny teenage kid from New Jersey has actually logged more Pendergast DVD time than The Godfather (and for the record, I love The Godfather).

I've named my fantasy football "Kobra Kai Dojo" for ten straight years (until this season when I changed it to "Tom Cable's Dojo"). I openly pine for the chunky version of Elisabeth Shue from the first Karate Kid movie. I make the Daniel Larusso "Yeah, I just scored a goal in bubble hockey!" Face after every goal I score in bubble hockey (anyone know where I can find bubble hockey in Houston, by the way?).

I actually dedicated an entire radio show to the 25th anniversary of the release of the first Karate Kid movie. Included in that show was an interview with Billy Zabka (the diabolical "Johnny Lawrence"), and to this day when people ask me "Who is the most famous person's phone number you have in your iPhone?" I immediately answer "BILLY ZABKA", not because he is the most famous, but it's the number I find to be the coolest. It's the Honus Wagner baseball card of celebrity phone numbers.

Why do I bring my Karate Kid fetish up, in a sports blog post of all places?


-- I have a job to do, and that job is to deliver blog posts.

-- Karate actually is a sport. Look it up.

-- The Rockets didn't play last night.

-- Owen Daniels didn't tear any more knee ligaments last night.

-- The Astros can only hire one manager this offseason (although if they could hire one a week to keep the spotlight on Minute Maid Park, Drayton might do it).

-- Phillies are now on the road, so no stories about skanks ho-ing themselves out for tickets.

Hence, there's nothing to write about.

Fortunately, it's Ralph Macchio's birthday today!

Indeed, Ralph Macchio turns 48 years old today! While I am philosophically opposed to paying tribute to Macchio himself on his birthday (Unlike Zabka, Macchio big-leagued us on our interview request for the Karate Kid 25th-anniversary show.), I think it's not only appropriate, but necessary to pay tribute to the character that made Macchio famous, Daniel Larusso. You may ask "Why pay tribute to a scrawny kid from New Jersey who may or may not have been taking estrogen pills?" (Actually, if you're asking that question you probably stopped reading this post ten minutes ago.)

Well, just look at the body of work. He somehow found a way to parlay a feathered center-part haircut, a wardrobe that consisted of Wes Chandler jerseys and sweats, a body type that could best be labeled as "energetically frail" and his mom's green station wagon (complete with mom driving) as his only mode of transportation on dates into (a) a love affair for the ages with Ali (Elisabeth Shue) and (b) the All-Valley Karate Championship. In short, there was no more unlikely hero ever than Daniel Larusso, and until the Rockets win the Western Conference with this year's roster, no one ever did more with less.

And just as I type the "no more unlikely hero" part of that last paragraph, I have noted Star Wars geek and 1560 program director Chance McClain (and his sidekick, Frankie the Bull) standing over my shoulder trying to argue that Luke Skywalker blows Daniel Larusso out of the water in the "unlikely hero" category. All right, boys, stand here while I type all of this...

I'm ready to throw a "Tale of the Tape" on this thing and settle it once and for all. Here goes:


Wt: 150 LBS
Hometown: Some moisture farm on Tattoine
Midochlorian Count: 14,500

Wt: 103 LBS
Hometown: Somewhere in North Jersey
Midochlorian Count: N/A

LARUSSO: Mr. Myagi, your standard Japanese apartment-complex janitor with a heart of gold. Managed to dupe Daniel-san into completely remodeling his home all under the guise of training him for a karate tournament. Also, managed to repair Daniel's mangled knee with his bare hands so he could fight in the All Valley Karate Finals. May or may not have touched Daniel inappropriately in scenes that wound up on the cutting-room floor.
SKYWALKER: Obi Wan Kenobi, the last of the Jedi Knights. Had no real employment other than watching after Luke while he grew up on Tattoine, which was weird because Luke had no idea he was being watched. So he may or may not have been a Peeping Tom. Lived in a hovel and meditated with a ghost of his former master all day. Took one for the team by letting Darth Vader slice him in half. Likely never got laid, not even once.
ADVANTAGE: LARUSSO, on the strength of Myagi being allowed to have intercourse

A brand new canary-yellow classic car
SKYWALKER: His father's light saber
ADVANTAGE: SKYWALKER, because giving a 16-year-old kid a car for no reason is just a little too creepy

Johnny Lawrence, classic `80's high school villain. Had a bandana to go with every outfit, and a red leather jacket that would fetch $5,000 on eBay easily today.
SKYWALKER: Darth Vader, machine-like ubermonster who could choke people merely by pointing at them, a skill that would be fun to show off at parties if it were real. Also, he happened to be Luke's dad, so there's that.
ADVANTAGE: LARUSSO. I'm fine with adult film stars and strippers having "daddy issues," but science-fiction characters? Save it.

Crane kick. I mean, what else needs to be said? It's the fucking crane kick, dude. Daniel went all in with it and caught a royal flush on the river. Totally sweet.
SKYWALKER: None. Seriously, when it came down to nut-cuttin' time and the universe needed to be saved, Luke was getting deep-fried by the Emperor's lightning hands and he needed Pops to do the heavy lifting and toss the Emperor into that chasm thingie for the save. Scottie Pippen thinks that's messed up.

His mom's green station wagon, complete with Mom driving it! "Nice car, Mrs. Larusso!!"
SKYWALKER: Landspeeder, which in addition to going way faster than a station wagon, also has no tires, which means Luke didn't have to spend two hours sitting at Discount Tire waiting for his wheels to be changed.
ADVANTAGE: SKYWALKER. Side bar -- I was always hoping for a deleted scene in The Karate Kid where Mrs. Larusso accidentally took a wrong turn and got carjacked in Compton.

"I hate this bike, I hate this bike!!! I HATE IT!! I HATE IT!!"
SKYWALKER: "...but I was gonna go to the Toschi station and pick up some power converters!"
ADVANTAGE: LARUSSO. He's right, that bike sucked ass. Bike had it comin', for sure.

Ali with an I, the chunky version of Elisabeth Shue. Of course, as best we can tell, he never even got to first base, but did manage to play bubble hockey with her and hold her hand in the photo booth.
SKYWALKER: Well, for at least the first two legs of the Star Wars Trilogy it was Princess Leia, who wound up being his sister. Incest is not cool in any galaxy.
BIG ADVANTAGE: LARUSSO. Moral of the story -- If you have to kiss your sister to get to first base, you're better off playing bubble hockey.

At best, Larusso becomes a karate teacher in a dojo for skinny kids from New Jersey
SKYWALKER: If he played his cards right, Luke would become a prominent figure in the government of the universe. Worst case, he's so scarred from the incest and the "daddy issues" that he goes around pointing at people and choking them out for fun.
ADVANTAGE: SKYWALKER. If for no other reason than I'm fearful of him finding me and choking me out for fun.

CONCLUSION: LARUSSO 5 (including two BIG advantages), SKYWALKER 3.

So there you have it, Chance and Frank. GO GET LUKE SKYWALKER A BODY BAG!!! YEAAAAAHHHH!!

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