Few people have such a memorable impact on our lives as teachers and mentors. They range from a parent, to a teacher, or a coach. Many times the great teachers are the ones from the silver screen. These include unforgettable names such as Ben Kenobi/Yoda, Gandalf, or perhaps coach Herman Boone from Remember the Titans. Every generation finds a few teachers to guide them in their lives. One of the big ones from the 80’s was a Japanese repairman named Mr. Miyagi. Miyagi taught a young high schooler not only how to defend himself, but how to live life. He was played by an actor named Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita. This Friday, February 5th, on Video on Demand comes More than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story.
More Than Miyagi – Decades in the Making
While he will forever be known as Mr. Miyagi to most, Pat Morita‘s career began decades before. He popped up in episodes for decades, but did you know Pat started his career as a comedian? With a self deprecating sense of humor, he made fun of himself, Asians, and anything else that came to mind. He went on to be a guest star on dozens of shows over the years, from M*A*S*H* to Sanford and Son, and more.
It sounds like a fairly typical rise to stardom so far right? Not so fast. More Than Miyagi spends the first hour of its 90 minute run time covering Pat’s life from the beginning. Pat’s life actually started with him unable to walk. He suffered from spinal tuberculosis and could not walk for most of his childhood. After Shriners Hospital got involved and helped him to recover, World War II began. Many Japanese Americans were placed into Internment camps during the war, this took quite the toll on young Pat Morita.
From paralyzed to prisoner, he started off life about as bad as you can, but instead of making him hard, Pat focused on making people laugh. This sense of humor helped him become noticed in Hollywood. Eventually he would star as Arnold on the tv show Happy Days where he played the funny diner cook, but it was after repeated auditions he finally landed the role of the sage Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid.
The first hour of the bio-film not only charts his Hollywood career, but interviews an impressive who’s who of Hollywood stars that worked with Mr. Morita. People warn you to never meet your idols because they often disappoint, but not with Pat. Those that worked with him and knew him loved him and his humor. It is great to hear that at least one of our great idols was as kind as he appeared on the screen.
More Than Miyagi – The Other Side of the Story
Someone once said behind every great comedian is a world of pain. We need look no further than comedic greats such as Richard Pryor and Robin Williams. They made millions laugh, but behind the scenes things were not so bright. Sadly, Pat Morita was no different.
Despite having a wonderful sense of humor, the final 30 minutes of More Than Miyagi deals with the darks side of Pat’s life. Pat had a drinking problem. He began drinking at the young age of 12, and he never escaped the curses of alcoholism. In the final years of life it overtook him.
One of the biggest take aways of More Than Morita is his wife, Evelyn Guerrero. She narrates much of the film, and gives a very candid detailing of Pat’s life, even the final years when things fell apart. The way she talks about Pat and what she endured tells a very motivational and devoted story.
If you are a fan of Mr. Miyagi or Pat Morita in general, you will not want to miss this documentary. It tells an incredible story of a rather exceptional man, flaws and all. More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story releases this Friday, February 5th on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu,
Google Play, DVD and Blu-ray.