I have chosen to create something that has an overriding sense of beauty in the setting and the tones of the piece to offer something different to other pieces and to keep the body of work unique. I wanted to embrace the location of the film as all of those who were a part of the crew and cast did. William Zabka, who played villain Johnny Lawrence in the film, said, “When you get on a set, all that you did in rehearsal, and all that you do to prep, takes on a new life because that location is almost a character itself and it adds to the energy of the scene, and you feed off that.” So for me I wanted to showcase the beauty of the San Fernando Valley and it’s landscape and light.
As Mr Miyagi taught a more theoretical approach and loved to throw in the odd idiom or two I have tackled this piece as a more conceptual delivery to play on that, one where there are clear links to the film but one that has meaning and symbolism. The title of the piece, Wax On Wax Off doesn’t relate to the piece directly but instead counters the conceptual nature of the approach and on first glance the title immediately clarifies the film.
The bonzai tree takes a prominent position within the composition and its’ size has been amplified for impact. I mimicked the iconic badge from the Miyagi dojo and worked in a similar tree, to introduce the large orange sun that is behind the tree on the badge I have created a warm orange glow that radiates from the tree rather than being the sun itself as the image shows the sun is behind shining down the path. The path itself is key to the message as it represents the journey that you go on to achieve your goals (which the tree signifies) and confronting and overcoming the threats that stand in your way, literally on this piece. To bring this concept into the film I have set it so that the path that is in front of Larusso represents his journey to the very top of the sport.
Right in front of him stands a black cobra - this represents the Cobra Kai Dojo that clashed with Larusso and Miyagi all the way through the film, culminating in the tournament itself. The Cobra is the dominant part of the Dojo and has been emblazoned with the words ‘No Mercy’ which is the final point of their motto. The cobra not only creates a focial point to the foreground but represents how Larusso must overcome his fears and out battle it to reach the tree and take the black belt that sits beneath it. The trunk features a linear stack of colours that aren’t just there to enhance the piece visually but to represent the various colour grades of the sport. The beautiful lighting of the tree symbolises not just the wonderful sunlight of the Valley but also the magic that is Miyagi. As a subtle reference to the passing of the man Pat Morita who played Miyagi I have placed a lit lantern with ‘RIP Pat Morita’ on the front.
Miyagis protégé is watched from a far, in the background there is his cherished 1947 Ford Super Deluxe convertible that he then gives to Laursso on his birthday. I have featured key movie cars where relevant as I love it but have chosen to keep this one subtle, as a nicety to spot when studying the piece but where it is quite powerful when you buy into the concept. Either side of the path there is detail that relates to the film, some subtle, some clearer. To the left and right the lighting continues over the bushes in a way that it is done to look like the glow from wild flowers.
I was adamant that I would get a good reference to the Crane kick. I have created two cranes fighting which looks beautiful and violent at the same time, the positioning is perfect and represents the final match between Daniel and Johnny where Larusso on the right delivers the winning kick to take the tournament and the moral victory.