The Karate Kid Part III Didn't Have Romance For Daniel LaRusso For One Very Good Reason

Daniel LaRusso is no stranger to romance. In "The Karate Kid," his crush on Johnny Lawrence's (William Zabka) girlfriend Ali Mills (Elizabeth Shue) is what gets him into trouble in the first place. Determined to win her heart and give Johnny a beating in the process (Johnny sympathizer over here!), Daniel sets out to master the art of karate, which is a pretty crazy and impressive thing to do for love. Because this is Hollywood, he ends up getting the girl and the first place trophy, but by "The Karate Kid Part II," he and Ali have parted ways. 

Clearly not too heartbroken over the breakup, Daniel embarks on a journey to Okinawa with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) where he meets Yukie, Miyagi's former crush, and her charming niece Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita). He then spends the rest of the film trying to win over Kumiko's heart with his sick karate moves and American charm. Eventually he does, however, by "The Karate Kid Part III," Daniel is single again, but he's not necessarily ready to mingle.

In "The Karate Kid Part III," artsy Jessica Andrews (Robyn Lively) is a young girl who works and lives in a pottery shop across the street from Daniel and Mr. Miyagi's new bonsai shop. She seems like the perfect love interest for Daniel, and the two quickly become friends. However, their relationship never goes beyond the platonic realm. Considering the fact that Daniel's love life was a huge plot point in both previous films, the decision to avoid any romantic entanglements for Daniel in Part III is a bit of a head-scratcher. That is until you realize why the makers of the third film made this very deliberate choice.

Friends are better than flames

Hollywood doesn't exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to age-appropriate relationships on screen (think Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" or James L. Brooks's "As Good as It Gets"), and while the age gap is, admittedly, a large part of a lot of these film's plots, there is still something icky about significantly older men pursuing much younger women. 

In an interview for the "Below the Belt Show," Robyn Lively spoke about her age difference with Ralph Macchio in "The Karate Kid Part III." At the time of filming, Macchio was in his late twenties, while Lively, who played the part of Jessica Andrews, was decidedly younger. The ten-year age difference between them gave the filmmakers pause, so much so that they ended up reworking the script. 

"I was scripted to be the girlfriend," said Lively. "But then the age difference was so awkward that they ended up changing it so that I would just be his friend." Even though Lively and Macchio's characters were closer in age on screen than they were in real life, it's refreshing to hear that the filmmakers weren't willing to make Lively and Macchio portray a romance. "I was 16," says Lively. "He was quite a bit older than me then. He was married. I was just a teenager."

"The Karate Kid Part III" came out in 1989 when things like age gaps in film were decidedly less controversial, so kudos to whoever made the call to cut the romance and revert to good old-fashioned friendship. Hopefully their friendship has prevailed over the years and Jessica makes an appearance in the upcoming "Cobra Kai" season 5.