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Ralph Macchio Reveals How They Shot The Fly Scene From The Karate Kid

If you were around in the mid-1980s, you might have noticed a peculiar trend: Out of nowhere, across the United States, decks were suddenly being sanded. Fences were painted, top to bottom. Cars, previously embarrassingly unwaxed, were waxed on before being gingerly waxed off. Yes, Karate Kid fever had hit the nation hard, Tom-Sawyer-ing a generation of impressionable young people into doing chores in the name of martial arts supremacy. But real fans knew that karate excellence couldn't just be achieved through the act of completing an old man's to-do list. It required something far more difficult to attain: the ability to catch a fly with chopsticks.

The proof is in the original movie: Young Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) enters Mr. Miyagi's (Pat Morita) home and finds him trying to nab a fly by pincering it with chopsticks. "Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier?" asks Daniel. Miyagi replies, in true "if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball" fashion, that a man who can catch a fly with chopsticks can accomplish anything.

Now, with the Karate Kid universe's remarkable third-act comeback in the form of the spin-off series Cobra Kai, details about the original series are being dusted off and readdressed by some of the contributors to the first few entries. Empire recently caught up with Daniel LaRusso actor Ralph Macchio, and the iconic fly catching scene came up in an unexpected way.

A props department that can catch a fly can accomplish anything

Empire asked Macchio which lines from the franchise fans most often quoted in his presence. "In the early days, it was, 'Wax on, wax off,'" Macchio replied. He then shared, "God knows if I'm in an Asian restaurant and there's a fly even 20 feet away, I have nine seconds to get out of the building!"

From there, the 59-year-old actor began to reminisce on the old days and the ins and outs of shooting a scene in which a guy uses utensils to stop an unsuspecting insect. "Have you ever tried to catch a fly with chopsticks?" Empire asked Macchio. "Not even when we were shooting [The Karate Kid]," Macchio revealed, admitting that it took a great deal of creativity, a lot of flies, and several different people to make the scene happen.

"I can't tell you how many different ways we tried to achieve that shot before CGI," he explained. "Now you'd do it in 10 seconds! When we were shooting the scene, we had a couple of flies in a jar and all the crew guys were having a go. It was like the bobbing for apples game!"

It sounds like a lot of effort just to get a single shot of Daniel holding a bug captive between two sticks, but it's important to remember that The Karate Kid came out nearly 40 years ago. Back then, filmmakers didn't have access to high-falutin' effects technology like CGI, hand-drawn animation, or rubber bugs.