What do you remember about The Karate Kid? Daniel’s triumphant crane kick during the All Valley Tournament? Perhaps his Shower Costume at the Halloween dance (leading to his ass-kicking courtesy of a bunch of skeleton-clad Cobra Kai’s)? Or possibly just the tender (and in retrospect, sort of weird) relationship with his apartment handyman, Mr. Miyagi? All big Karate Kid moments, no doubt. But what I don’t get is one throwaway moment that could be considered the catalyst for all that comes after.
As anyone who has seen the movie no doubt knows, the film is about a displaced New Jersey Italian named Daniel LaRusso who moves to Los Angeles and pisses off a bunch of golden-boy karate psychos. Primarily, the leader of these dirt-bike riding, red pleather-wearing, headband-donning Cobra Kai’s, Johnny Lawrence.
You see, Daniel got invited by his new friend Freddie (he of the “Makin’ Bacon” T-Shirt) to a beach bonfire scenario. In an effort to prove that he “has got moves,” Daniel makes a play on a cute blonde at a nearby bonfire, drawing the ire of her ex-boyfriend, Johnny.
Here, watch it for yourself-
So my question is, why did Ali kick the ball away from Daniel at the end of this clip? From what I could tell, they were having a nice time, juggling and what not. Daniel indeed had “moves.” Then she just kicks it away for no discernible reason, leading to a fairly embarrassing ass-whupping.
Did she see Johnny up on the bluff? I don’t think she did. I think Ali just wanted to play some head-games with Daniel- see what kind of guy he was. If he hadn’t gone after the ball and tried to return it to her, Johnny may have not grown so angry that he busted up her boom-box, beaten Daniel up on the beach, pushed him down a cliff on his bike, beaten him up at the Halloween dance, laughed when Daniel crashed into a waiter and got spaghetti all over his clothes, and finally swept the leg at the All Valley Tournament.
Daniel didn’t need Ali. Probably why she did not appear in the sequels.