At the end of the original Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso wins the All-Valley Karate Tournament by defeating Johnny Lawrence with a perfectly timed crane kick, and then runs right into the arms of Ali Mills, Lawrence’s ex-girlfriend. It’s one of the all-time great moments of cinematic triumph, although when we pick up the story six months later in The Karate Kid, Part II Ali is out of the picture. “First I let her borrow the car, and she redesigns my fender,” a forlorn Daniel tells Mr. Miyagi. “And you know what else she does? Tells me that she’s just fallen in love with some football player from UCLA.”
This means that Daniel is single when he travels to Okinawa, Japan, to visit his sensei’s dying father. Once they arrive, they meet Miyagi’s former nemesis, Sato, and his beautiful niece, Kumiko. Needless to say, Daniel is smitten by Kumiko, and they quickly form a love every bit as intense as Miyagi and Sato’s rivalry. The filmmakers needed a song to express their love, and since it was 1986, they turned to former Chicago singer/bassist Peter Cetera. Lucky for them, he had a song on hand he’d written for the Rocky IV soundtrack titled “The Glory of Love.” It was about Rocky’s love for Adrian, and probably even America itself, but the “man who will fight for your honor” that is much like “a knight in shining armor from a long time ago” easily worked for The Karate Kid sequel.
The video (which you can see above) was shot in a studio designed to look like a karate dojo, with scenes from The Karate Kid, Part II projected onto the walls. The film was a huge success, grossing $115 million from a $13 million budget, and it helped shoot the song to Number One, knocking Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” down to Number Two. (This was a good week for action movie soundtracks as “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins was at Number Three.) It was the first hit for Cetera, and it seemed to completely justify his decision to leave Chicago the previous year. Just four months later, he returned to the Number One slot with “The Next Time I Fall,” a duet with Amy Grant.
“The Glory of Love” was nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award in 1986, but it was beaten by “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. When it came time for The Karate Kid, Part III in 1989, they turned to Winger. Their original song, “Out For the Count,” was not nominated for an Oscar and remains wildly obscure to all but the most-devoted Winger fans. In the third Karate Kid we learn that Kumiko ditched Daniel to tour with a Japanese dance troupe. Their love was glorious but, apparently, it was pretty brief.