Thursday, July 30, 2009

Karate Kid pt II: sequel that kicks....summer 86!

Ah.....the summer of 84......I remember it very fondly for one particular reason. My mother took me to see "The Karate Kid" at the local twin cinemas. I was instantly smitten with the characters of Miyagi-san and Daniel-san.....come on......who wouldn't want to learn the secrets of Miyagi-do karate, smite the evil bully at the tournament, and go home with the beautiful girl? The crane kick in the end may be a little silly now a days...but if you tell me you didn't get chills the first time you saw it......I say you are a LIAR!!! Truth be told.....this film did not need a sequel, but Hollywood smelled the franchise opportunity and a couple of years later we had part II.

John Avildsen (of Rocky fame) returns to direct as does Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. Instead of rehashing the plot of the first installment, (a mistake they made for the shit-tacular part III)
they wisely built upon the surrogate father son relationship established with Daniel and Miyagi. LaRusso's story took center stage earlier......but here he is just offering support to his best friend and teacher as they travel to Okinawa (filmed in Oahu Hawaii) to deal with a death in the Miyagi family, lost love, and a 45 year old feud between former best friends that has only grown more venomous over time.

Culture is a key force of this film as Daniel-san must cope with being in an unfamiliar land away from the burbs of L.A. He does not understand the Okinawan concept of honor or the consequences of insulting it........but quickly gets a crash course after meeting Chozen. You see....the top Karate student in Okinawa (played by the ever smiling Yuji Okumoto) is a bully who might beat him up.....but might also kill him if provoked to that point. Like in "Rocky" you know there's going to be a fight in the end and KKII constantly teases you with that promise.
When it happens it's a duel to the death.......and you'd never guess that Daniel-san pulls a new Miyagi technique out of his ass when the crane fails him.

"Live or die man!!????"

An exotic location........exotic love interest (the beautiful Tamlyn Tomita) and fantastic villains (props to Danny Kamekona as gravelly voiced Sato) make KKII a very worthy follow up to a beloved film. It's not better.........but it is great none the less. Too bad they didn't leave well enough alone and sweep the leg of the guy who asked "now how about part III?"

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