Rocky and Karate Kid director John Avildsen dies

Kelly Massey
June 17, 2017

His next film, The Karate Kid in 1984, triumphed with an underdog theme similar to Rocky, as a bullied teenager played by Ralph Macchio overcame the odds with the help of a wise martial arts master, played by Pat Morita. He hadn't started with Rocky, however, he had made earlier films, including the 1973 Save the Tiger, which won Jack Lemmon an Oscar for Best Actor, and Jack Gilford was nominated for Supporting Actor. Avildsen even returned to direct Rocky V in 1990.

Avildsen, the Oscar-winning director of Rocky, has died aged 81.

What's your favorite John G. Avildsen film?

RIP to my friend and KK director John G Avildsen.

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Avildsen came up the hard way in films, starting with a long apprenticeship as assistant director, then moved up to production manager, cinematographer and editor. "He was super talented and very driven and very stubborn and that was to his detriment but also often to his benefit", Avildsen told The Associated Press.

In a 1992 interview, Avildsen outlined his view of filmmaking. Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, George C. Scott, and Marlon Brando all passed in front of Avildsen's camera over the next few years, but films like Neighbors, The Formula, and Slow Dancing In The Big City failed to attract either critical love or box office success. This time, when the chance to stay on for a massively lucrative film franchise presented itself, Avildsen took it, directing The Karate Kid Part II and Part III as well.

"My hope as a filmmaker is to make people feel a little differently about something when they leave the theater", Avildsen told the Los Angeles Times in 1971. The film marked the debut role for a young actress named Susan Sarandon, and also earned Norman Wexler an Oscar nomination for Best Screen Writing. To me, that is good drama. He is survived by daughter Bridget and sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley, reported Variety. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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