The life and legacy of The Karate Kid franchise star Pat Morita will be explored in the upcoming documentary More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story. In the movie, filmmaker Kevin Derek details Morita’s early days struggling with spinal tuberculosis to his battles with drug and alcohol addiction as an adult, all the while celebrating the actor and comedian’s work on the big and small screens. Love Project Films has released the official trailer on YouTube.
Per the official synopsis: “The Oscar nominated actor best known for his role of Mr. Miyagi, left behind a painfully revealing autobiographical record of his much-too-brief time here on earth. Tracing his journey from being bed bound as a boy to the bright lights and discrimination in Hollywood. Deep inside that sweet, generous, multi-talented performer seethed an army of demons, that even alcohol and drugs couldn’t mask.”
During production, a sneak peek clip from the documentary was released, featuring Tommy Chong speaking about his memories of Morita. “He became Mr. Miyagi,” Chong says in the clip. “In so many ways, that was him. That was Pat.”
Archival interviews with Pat Morita himself will be used to help tell his life story in the movie. Along with Chong and other comics like Larry Miller, a variety of Morita’s famous colleagues will also be interviewed to speak about their late friend. That includes Morita’s The Karate Kid co-stars Ralph Macchio, Martin Kove, and William Zabka, and his Happy Days co-stars Marion Ross and Henry Winkler.
Morita is beloved for playing the iconic role of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid franchise, a role that earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Archival footage and references have also kept the character’s presence alive in the popular sequel series on Netflix, Cobra Kai. After The Karate Kid, Morita also earned an Emmy nomination for playing Tommy Tanaka in the TV movie Amos. He also wrote and starred in the World War II movie Captive Hearts.
While Mr. Miyagi might be Morita’s career-defining role, fans also appreciate the actor for the work he did as a comedian. He is very widely known for playing Arnold on Happy Days, helping to establish just how skilled he could be as a funnyman. Morita also starred as inventor Taro Takahashi on his own comedy series, Mr. T and Tina, which was the first Asian-American sitcom on network television. Additionally, Morita appeared in comedic roles on Sanford and Son, Married… with Children and The Hughleys and had a recurring role in the Nickelodeon series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.
As you’ll see in the documentary, Morita struggled with his personal demons behind the scenes, like many other famous funny people. It’s a shame that he is gone, but the movie also proves that his legacy lives on over 15 years after his death. More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story premieres on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services on Feb. 5. The official trailer comes to us courtesy of Love Project Films on YouTube, and some details of this story come to us from Entertainment Weekly.