It sounds incredible, but today, November 4, 2022, actor Ralph Macchio turns 61. For many years, say in the 1980s and 1990s, Macchio enjoyed his youthful features and form. The actor is one of those, along with Michael J. Fox, who seemed to have stalled as a teenager, not showing their true age over the years. When he released the biggest hit of his career, Karate Kid – The Moment of Truth (1984), for example, despite playing a schoolboy with, say, 16 or 17 years of age, the actor had already passed the mark. legal drinking age in the United States, with its 23 years. And so he continued to play the “cat” for the franchise, by the time he reached the third film, in 1989, Macchio was almost 30, but he continued to play naive teenager Daniel LaRusso. It’s the magic of cinema, of course, to be aided by the actor’s “eternal adolescent” quality.
Disappeared from the screens, Ralph Macchio conquered a second wave of popularity in his career, rising again to the rank of star, thanks to the success of the Cobra Kai series, launched on Youtube in 2018, migrated to Netflix and is already in its fifth season. The icing on the cake, this prestige rescue was done in the shoes of the same character from the 80s – since Cobra Kai is the belated sequel, in series form, to the Karate Kid films. Even a theatrical film that will serve as a new chapter in the franchise has already been announced, aiming to capitalize on the success of the series and, of course, the nostalgia of the original. And best of all, Ralph Macchio still doesn’t look his age.
In order to honor this actor resuscitated in his time, we will retain part of the work of Ralph Macchio in the 1980s and 1990s, with prestigious films and other cults, which not everyone can know. Check.
The first film of Ralph Macchio’s career was this “Up the Academy” (in the original), which functions as a kind of police academy, exchanging crazy recruits for students of a military academy. The most curious facts about this teen comedy are that, first, it is directed by Robert Downey Sr., father of Robert Downey Jr; and second, it was the first and only film production of MAD magazine, which was a big hit with young people in the 1980s.
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A year before being revealed to the world in Karate Kid, one of the most beloved and famous films of the 80s, Ralph Macchio was in this cult drama about the coming of age of teenage gang members street, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather). The gimmick is really the casting, because in addition to Macchio, it served to reveal names like Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, and Emilio Estevez.
The same year of his great success in Karate Kid, the actor would participate as a troubled student in this drama called ‘Teachers’ in the USA. Being a teacher is not easy, and in the 80s it was much worse. Or will he? The focus of this film by Arthur Hiller (Love Story) is the teachers of a chaotic high school and the relationship between tutors and students. Nick Nolte leads the faculty show, followed by Morgan Freeman, JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist) and Judd Hirsch. Among the students, Laura Dern and Crispin Glover.
Closing the good year 1984 for his career, Ralph Macchio turns to television with this TV movie where he repeats the double with his colleague Laura Dern. Airing on ABC, the drama is a kind of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, where Macchio plays the title character, a boy with the rare condition of premature and accelerated aging.
After the success of The Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio took a well-deserved sabbatical without releasing any films. But he will soon get back to work in an accelerated way, releasing two productions in 1986. The first is this musical drama with supernatural doses in which the actor plays the promising guitarist Lightning Boy. He decides to team up with an experienced musician, who says he made a pact with the devil. The second film Macchio released that year was the sequel to Karate Kid.
Another year off, and Macchio would return with this drama directed by Rick Rosenthal, from Halloween II – The Nightmare Continues (1981). The protagonist is John Lithgow as a subject tormented by the trauma of the Vietnam War, who struggles to reintegrate into society. Think of a sort of Rambo (1982), but if the protagonist of Stallone had a child and wanted to reconnect with him. Ralph Macchio plays Lithgow’s son, and the ending even has a gun battle just like Rambo.
A year after the end of the Karate Kid trilogy, Ralph Macchio enters the 90s with this wacky comedy from the same director as his first film, namely Robert Downey Sr. – who brings his son, Downey Jr., here to partner with Macchio as two con artists hired by a couple of millionaire brothers in order to reclaim their inheritance.
Completing 30 years since his debut, Ralph Macchio repeated the partnership with American broadcaster ABC, starring in another TV movie for the network. Here it was the turn of the war drama of a real prisoner, Robert Garwood, captured and imprisoned for 14 years in Vietnam. Macchio lives on as the main character, and the film also features veteran Martin Sheen.
Ralph Macchio’s biggest hit of the 90s was this forensic comedy that hit the big time exactly 30 years ago and even gave Marisa Tomei the Oscar. Since then, the film has fallen into a certain anonymity for the younger generations, but it deserves to be rediscovered – currently playing in the Star+ collection. In the film, Macchio plays a guy unjustly imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, when he was mistaken for a thief. To save him, his cousin Vinny, a rogue lawyer played by Joe Pesci.
Produced by the “monster” Martin Scorsese, this laid-back, modern film was meant to channel the feelings of young, single people living in New York City, with high career aspirations, trying to find relationships. The stars are the then-promising Eric Stoltz and Mary-Louise Parker, with Ralph Macchio playing the protagonist’s best friend.
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