That Actor Whose Name You Don’t Know: Yuji Okumoto

It’s almost a guarantee that if you were growing up in the 80s you saw this face even if you didn’t know his name since the smiling and vicious character of Chozen was one of the most memorable parts of The Karate Kid II, and the best part is that he’s coming back for Cobra Kai season 3, even if we don’t really know whether that’s going to be a good or a bad thing. It does feel kind of obvious that he still feels a certain way about Daniel LaRusso, but after so many years one would think that people would change. Then again, when one remembers that his uncle Sato still harbored a grudge against Mr. Miyagi and Johnny Lawrence still disliked Daniel it’s hard to justify Chozen just up and forgiving the man that apparently stole his honor. But as far as Yuji’s career, he’s been keeping pretty busy over the years and has managed to keep himself in the spotlight at least a bit here and there. He’s still fondly remembered for his time in the movie Better Off Dead with John Cusack since his Howard Cosell impression was one of the better parts of the movie and helped to make it a lot funnier since otherwise the movie as a little dark in some spots, as it was likely intended to be.

It’s hard to think of why his career didn’t get any bigger, or why his name didn’t get remembered, since watching him it’s apparent that he’s a true student of the craft and knows how to make his roles work. For one reason or another though he just hasn’t been given the type of roles that could really bust his career wide open and make him the leading star that can headline a blockbuster movie. He’s done well as a villain since his big smile is nice when he’s being a decent guy, but when he has to play a jerk it’s the smile of a wolf that’s ready to devour something that looks tasty. When he used this smile as the character of Chozen it was easy to think right away that he wasn’t going to be a good guy, since that smile wasn’t creepy but it didn’t appear to reach his eyes, which is usually a good indication that someone is doing their best to put another person at ease before turning on them at some point. There’s no doubt that Yuji has used that same smile over the years in his other roles since it’s definitely a dangerous look that he can put to good use.

Apparently, he was a decent athlete in high school but took up acting in college in order to get to where he wanted to be. It’s a good question as to why a person takes up acting, but like most things in life, it’s likely just something he felt was right for him and a decision that was easy to make once he was hooked. At the age of 61, he looks a bit different since time has a way of taking that youthful facade and doing what it will, but he’s still an impressive actor. Whether his career will be helped by his time in Cobra Kai or not is something that only time can tell, but it’s going to be great to see him all the same. It does sound as though he’s coming out with a new project and that he’ll likely continue acting for a while to come, which is pretty cool since he’s still quite good at what he does. Yuji has been featured in a few movies that quite a few people might know, such as Inception. He’s done a lot of Indie movies over the years, but he’s been keeping things going and staying sharp at least. It does feel as though he might have been subjected to the same treatment as many of those in the 80s received, in that he was a popular guy for as long as the decade lasted, but had to make do with various roles in low-budget movies that helped him to keep pushing forward.

One thing that a lot of people, myself included, can’t wait to find out is this secret that Chozen apparently has about Mr. Miyagi since it would appear that he has something to tell Daniel that might rock his world when it comes to his mentor. The old Chozen would no doubt relish in a secret that would hurt both men, but one can hope that this older, supposedly wiser Chozen might be out to inform Daniel and not harm him any longer. But we’ll have to wait until January of 2021 to find out, won’t we? Until then, it’s great to see Yuji still doing his thing and still awesome.

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