Ralph Macchio became an instant '80s icon thanks to his role as The Karate Kid's fresh-faced Daniel LaRusso. Prior to The Karate Kid's release, he starred in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders alongside Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise. After that, he played Danny again in two Karate Kid sequels. He also starred in My Cousin Vinny (yes, the film that won Marisa Tomei an Oscar) and more recently appeared in Entourage, Ugly Betty and Dancing with the Stars.
Pat Morita was already a veteran screen star when he took on the role of The Karate Kid's wise mentor Keisuke Miyagi. He appeared in more than 20 episodes of Happy Days (stretching from 1975-1983) before earning an Oscar nomination for The Karate Kid in 1985. He appeared in the film's numerous sequels (including the Hilary Swank version), and continued to work in TV and film until his death in 2005.
Elisabeth Shue made her movie debut in The Karate Kid and swiftly became a staple of classic '80s cinema. Roles in the Back to the Future sequels, Cocktail and Adventures in Babysitting followed, with a Best Actress Oscar nomination coming for Leaving Las Vegas in the mid-'90s. In recent years, we've seen Shue in Piranha 3D, playing Jennifer Lawrence's mum in House at the End of the Street and as a series regular in CSI.
As Danny's blond-haired nemesis (and Fernando Torres lookalike) Johnny Lawrence, William Zabka mastered the art of '80s teen movie jock villainy. He reprised his role in The Karate Kid sequel and also featured in European Vacation. Zabka has maintained a presence in front of the camera (How I Met Your Mother), but intriguingly it's his behind-the-scenes work that's won him the most acclaim. In 2004, he earned an Oscar nomination for short film Most.
The Karate Kid's hard-ass sensei John Kreese was played by Martin Kove, a veteran of TV show Cagney & Lacey and guest spots in numerous other classic US TV shows (Gunsmoke, Kojak, Rockford Files, The Incredible Hulk). He returned for two more Karate Kid movies and also featured in Rambo: First Blood Part II. Kove has continued to work prolifically, with close to 200 credits to his name. He currently has 13 (!) upcoming roles in various stages of production on IMDb.