Anyone who knows their Mike Barnes from their banzai trees will know that Rocky Balboa and Daniel LaRusso go way back. Long before Mr. Miyagi jumped in to protect Daniel-san from a gang of skeletons in The Karate Kid, Rocky changed cinema forever with its iconic underdog story. Much of this was due to the directing efforts of John J. Avildsen, who played Sylvester Stallone in a breakout role in a screenplay co-written by Robert Mark Kamen. However, eight years later, both Kamen and Avildsen reunited for another legendary fighter when they worked together on The Karate Kid and the two subsequent sequels.
This explains why the couple handled the story so well given his history, which was immediately pointed out by the Italian stallion. In an interview with sports illustrations in 2018, Kamen recalled that Sly frequently compared the film that gave us wax, wax, to the one he created, even calling The Karate Kid an outright plagiarism, down to the Italian protagonist and his aged mentor. “Sylvester Stallone and I joke about it all the time,” Kamen recalls.
However, the similarities didn’t end there. In fact, one of the most iconic parts of Rocky can be heard later in the season, albeit drowned out by a drunken Johnny Lawrence.