Morgan Freeman

With 'Rocky' and 'The Karate Kid,' John G. Avildsen beat the odds

With 'Rocky' and 'The Karate Kid,' John G. Avildsen beat the odds

It’s been noted that the director who gave us two of the most cherished underdog sagas in American movies remained, to the end, something of an underdog himself. John G. Avildsen may have secured his place in the Hollywood firmament with “Rocky” (1976) and “The Karate Kid” (1984), both fitting tributes to the importance of working hard, staying tough and keeping your eyes on the prize. But those soaring career highs stood out in a career that also encompassed high-profile duds, ill-advised sequels, Troma sexploitation flicks and a trio of Razzie nominations. It was not, to be sure, your typical Academy Award winner’s résumé.

But so what? Avildsen, who died on Friday at...

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