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In 1986, a wire thin Ralph Macchio was cast again as karate champ “Danny” in Karate Kid 2. This time, he leaves the San Fernando Valley and travels to Japan with his Karate sensei, “Miyagi” played by Pat Morita. Miyagi needs to visit his dying father. Meanwhile there’s drama between he and his old rival friend, but stealing scenes is Danny’s hot female love interest, Kumiko portrayed by Tamlyn Tomita in her acting debut.
At the time, young Asian American female leads were scarce and Tamlyn Tomita became the woman by which many Asian American females were gauged. She was the crush of kids everywhere and 25 years later is quietly celebrating her debuts 25th anniversary. Only the Hawaii International Film Festival screened Karate Kid 2 and invited Tomita to the islands, and that’s where I caught up with her. In her Halekulani hotel suite, I got to sit down with Tomita to ask her every question I had boiling for the last two and half decades.
There’s a joke in my family that when Tamlyn Tomita’s name ever gets brought up, I’m quickly hovering the conversation. Crushes can run for decades.
Here’s a few memorable quotes:
On Karate Kid 2, “Changed by Freakin Life.”
“25 years ago I was known as the Karate Kid Girl, and now I’m known as the Glee mom. If you want any more evidence that 25 years have passed, there you go.”
“I look at a person, ok this one probably in his 40s I’ll refer to Karate Kid, if it’s a woman 25-40 I’ll say Joy Luck Club. If it’s a young teenager, it’s Glee.”