5—Tamlyn Tomita (Karate Kid II): I was, and still am, an avid Karate
fan. To this day, I sit down and take in a Karate Kid movie every few months. As
a kid, that was more like every few days. To me, these films—especially the first
two—are timeless and never get old. I always had one problem with the first Karate Kid, though. I didn’t get what Daniel saw in “Ali with an i.” Oh sure, Elizabeth
Shue somehow went and became all hot by the mid-90’s (Leaving
Las Vegas and The Saint. Whoa!), but in the 80’s she was not that great. I never understood why Daniel
would go through all the pain and agony that came with dating Ali. But the movie
was awesome and watching Johnny get crane kicked in the face never got old, so I
turned a blind eye to the fact that I never bought into Ali. Karate Kid, up until
the release of Part II in 1986, was all about the fighting for me. How things would
In the mid-80’s, I really into fighting, wrestling, and martial arts—still am. I
took Tae Kwon Do classes because of Karate Kid and The Last Dragon.
My friends and
I re-enacted all the fight scenes from the movies. We played with shurikens and
nunchakus and, by some act of God, never seriously hurt ourselves. The holy grail
of my 3rd and 4th grade existence was a full blown ninja outfit. I begged and pleaded
my case, but my parents knew better than to buy me one. To compensate for our lack
of proper attire, my friends and I used to tie black t-shirts over our faces to
look like ninja masks and go wreak havoc in the neighborhood.
Karate Kid II debuted the summer before 4th grade. I went with my best buddy (and
fellow ninja) and his family to catch it on opening night. We were all set to watch
Daniel-san karate chop ice blocks and deathmatch with Chozen. “Daniel-san, this
not tournament. This for real!” What I didn’t expect was to completely fall for
Daniel’s new girl, Kumiko, played by Tamlyn Tomita. I drooled over the previews
for months. My drool, however, was for the fighting, not the girl.
During the movie, probably during the tea ceremony scene, the crush hit me like
a ton of bricks. Here was this gorgeous, exotic looking babe doing gorgeous, exotic
looking things like the O-bon dance, tea ceremony, and dancing 50’s style to "Rock
Around The Clock." I recorded this bad boy off HBO the day it debuted and practically
had the movie memorized within a week. My favorite parts of Karate Kid II
the fighting—although they were awesome and the last fight is especially epic. Instead,
my favorite parts were any scene involving Kumiko. As I mentioned in the introduction
to this series, I completely fell in love with Kumiko, again and again, every time
I watched Karate Kid II. For Tamlyn Tomita to completely steal a 4th grader’s attention
from the fighting scenes of a Karate Kid
movie is quite an achievement and well
worthy of a Top 5 Biggest Crush appearance.
Kumiko during the tea ceremony
Kumiko and Daniel-san discussing...something
More Kumiko from Karate Kid II
The only non Karate Kid II picture I could find of her from the 80's
Where is she now?
Where isn’t she? Much to my surprise Tamlyn Tomita has been hiding in plain sight
all these years. I fully expected her to maybe have a few foreign films following
Karate Kid II and be long gone. Whoops! Her filmography includes a few of my favorite
television shows: Heroes, 24, and The Shield.
She has also appeared in some movies
that I have seen more than once like Four Rooms,
The Eye, and The Day After Tomorrow.
Tamlyn Tomita also had roles in a TON of stuff that I don’t watch such as JAG, Stargate
SG-1, Saving Grace, Will and Grace, Monk, and the ever popular Michael Richards Show. Now that I think about it, I do remember some of the characters that she played
in a few of these television shows and movies. Granted, these were supporting roles,
bit parts, and guest appearances, but I am still ashamed to admit that I never
once put it together that she was Kumiko from Karate Kid II. A hundred lashes upon
my back! No, a thousand! My apologies, Tamlyn: you’re still my 4th grade crush!
Tamlyn Tomita today!
From JAG I'm guessing