Sunday, November 04, 2007

Portrait of a Badass: Johnny

Character: Johnny Lawrence
Actor: William Zabka
Film: The Karate Kid (1984)
Badass Moment: Sweep the leg.

Johnny Lawrence was just an ordinary, everyday, all-American boy growing up in sunny California. He was an exemplary student in his karate dojo, he hung out with the popular crowd at school and he was dating Elizabeth Shue. Everything was going great for Johnny Lawrence.


Until that little Jersey slimeball Daniel Larusso showed up with his short temper and his Crane Technique and his intentions to steal Johnny's girlfriend.

This summer....William Zabka IS....The Karate Kid.

That's how the trailer for this movie should have gone.

If The Karate Kid taught me anything, it's that sometimes the protagonist of a movie is not likable in the least. Sometimes he's an annoying, little punk who is doomed to be picked on because he just can't steer clear of trouble. Daniel Larusso is that kind of protagonist and Johnny Lawrence is that kind of trouble. No matter where Larusso's "stupid bike" takes him, all roads lead to a Johnny Lawrence beat-down.

For young viewers of The Karate Kid, an appearance by Johnny elicits the feelings of dread that only a real-life bully can prompt. And for cynical bloggers, watching Johnny beat up Daniel can be a satisfying form of entertainment. In Johnny Lawrence, the filmmakers have thus found a winning combination that transcends age gaps.

Some might say that Johnny's sensei, the diabolical Kreese, was the true villain of The Karate Kid. After all, just like Mr. Miyagi says, "No bad student. Only bad teacher." And it's not as if Kreese wasn't trying his damnedest to be a villain in the movie. I mean, look at him:

That ain't the face of a sane man. But since Johnny has a far more direct influence on the tribulations of Daniel Larusso, I cannot justify awarding Kreese the badass crown. And since Johnny has the guts to defy his insane teacher in the opening scene of The Karate Kid Part II, it's a done deal.

Johnny, you are a badass. When a man meets you on the street, he's an enemy. An enemy deserves no mercy WHAT IS THE PROBLEM MISTER LAWRENCE.

No comments: