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The Iconic Moment In The Karate Kid That Was Originally Meant For Rocky III

In more ways than one, the 1980s is widely considered one of the most pivotal and influential decades in the history of cinema. With the age of the blockbuster — ushered in by Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic Jaws — in full swing, some of the greatest franchises ever created made their premieres or continued shining on the big screen. The likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Alien, and countless others worked hard to cement their claim to pop-culture fame and very much succeeded. Their thrilling stories, trend-setting characters, and no shortage of memorable scenes and quotes established a blueprint for projects of all varieties.

One genre that thrived under this framework is the sports drama, including the Karate Kid and Rocky film series. Audiences immediately bought into the inspiring tales of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) as they rose to prominence in the martial arts and boxing worlds, respectively. As a part of their entertaining character arcs, the films featured plenty of now-famous lines and moments, contributing to their individual legacies significantly. In fact, a key aspect of the first Karate Kid was actually intended for a Rocky film, although the latter never used it.

"You're the Best" was created for Rocky III

If you were to build an '80s flick from the ground up, you'd mark the soundtrack as a vital component that requires much attention. Tunes such as "Hearts on Fire" by John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band and "Push It to the Limit" by Paul Engemann topped the charts thanks to their association with cinematic projects. The arguable king of them all, however, is Joe Esposito's "You're the Best," included in The Karate Kid's third act during the All-Valley Karate Tournament. However, if the team behind Rocky III hadn't have rejected "You're the Best," the song would never have shown up in The Karate Kid.

The story goes that Esposito created the tune for the third Rocky movie — as evidenced by lines such as "history repeats itself, try and you'll succeed" — but Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone ultimately didn't feel it was a good fit for his production. Stallone instead opted for Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger," giving director John Avildsen the opportunity to include "You're the Best" in The Karate Kid

Ultimately, Esposito couldn't have been happier with how things played out. In 2007, the musician told Popdose, "I'm thrilled to have been a part of it — it gives me a little something back for all the years I put in. [...] When someone remembers what I've done from a movie [...] it makes me feel pretty good."

Looking back, it's difficult to imagine a version of Rocky III with "You're the Best" on the soundtrack, just as it's strange to envision The Karate Kid without it. Thankfully, we'll never have to witness either, thanks to Stallone's choice that benefitted both productions tenfold.