According to Robert Mark Kamen in a 2012 interview with Mandatory (formerly known as CraveOnline), he hoped to set The Karate Kid Part III in the distant past. “I wanted to have them flashback to 16th century China,” he revealed, explaining his desire to replicate the classic, cable-rigged Kung Fu movies of yesteryear. “I wanted to do a Hong Kong Kung Fu movie. That’s what I wanted to do,” Kamen adds, lamenting that he and John G. Avildsen were virtually the only ones onboard with the concept.
Of course, this idea didn’t come totally out of left field, as it ties into a minor history lesson Mr. Miyagi gives Daniel in The Karate Kid Part II. As Avildsen recalled in a separate interview with Mandatory from 2014, “The ancestor of Miyagi was a fisherman. He was out fishing, had too much sake, and fell asleep and woke up off the coast of China and came back ten years later with a Chinese wife and a secret to Miyagi family Karate.” Therefore, they planted the seeds for this story already, so it would seamlessly fit the existing canon.
You’re surely wondering, how exactly would Daniel and Miyagi go back in time? Luckily, Avildsen and Kamen game-planned that concept as well. According to the latter, “It all happens when Daniel gets hit on the head and he has a dream. He’s in a coma or something, and they see a boat in the mist. It docks, and Mr. Miyagi and Daniel follow the first Miyagi ancestor into China.” Additionally, Avildsen elaborated on Pat Morita’s role in this dream world, mentioning that he “would play the Miyagi character as the ancestor and we would see how that all began.”