The Scoop: 1986 PG, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Danny Kamekona, and Yuji Okumoto
Tagline: The story continues…
Summary Capsule: Miyagi and New Jersey Sidekick travel to Okinawa to visit dying father, woo curvy women, and fight for the glory of love
Justin’s Rating: I am the MAN who would FIGHT for your HONOR… sorry, that darn song just gets stuck in my head every time I see this!
Justin’s Review: I’ve always had a rough time — no, I wasn’t born on the wrong side of the tracks or fell into heavy drinking binges in the third grade — trying to decide which is the superior film: Karate Kid 1, or Karate Kid 2. Now, before your knee-jerk reflex causes you trauma to your chin and you quickly declare the first the best, think back to when you first saw this sequel and reconsider. I know that I probably watched Part II more than Part I, in my youth. Maybe it was just the Japanese girl love interest; sorry Elizabeth Shue, you’re gorgeous, but you’re not really exotic. Maybe it was the gorgeous foreign settings, or the life-or-death final battle. Maybe it was the tea ceremony. Maybe I’ll have a record for the number of sentences in a row that start with the word “maybe.”
Actually, I’m going to go down a safe road and declare them equally terrific. After all, Part II isn’t so much of a sequel as it is a literal “part 2” — the film starts in the middle of the first Karate Kid, bringing us up to speed, and then continuing the themes and adventures of Daniel-san (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the greatest teacher-student duo since Oscar the Grouch and Wormy. Everyone really needs a mystical wise old man who will voluntarily spend lots of one-on-one time with you and teach you his special “tricks”. Non-illegal tricks.
I love that Part II starts out by showing us the aftermath of the karate tournament. It’s standard procedure in films to end right as the sports hero triumphs at something, giving us little or no epilogue to the glorious action. Yet here we see that not everything in the universe is made perfect by this tournament: sometimes the bad guys still continue to be jerks, and sometimes your girlfriend leaves you because it wasn’t meant to be and the salary the movie studio offered her wasn’t high enough. Plus, by starting with the first film’s climax, Part II jumpstarts the adrenaline right out of the gate.
While the first Karate Kid focused mostly on Daniel, with Mr. Miyagi introduced as a father figure and teacher midway through the movie, this film gives almost as much attention to Miyagi as it does Daniel. One of the most touching scenes in the first film was when Miyagi stumbles home drunk, drunk because (as Daniel discovers) it’s the anniversary of a family tragedy. It’s much easier to see these films through Daniel’s young, brash, Californian eyes, but I think it’s so much more rewarding to try to get into this mysterious and lovable old man’s head. The second film pulls Miyagi through another tragedy — his father is deathly ill in Okinawa — and into unresolved issues from decades ago.
Like the first movie, too, Part II’s bold proclamation of “KARATE” in its title is somewhat misleading. There is some fighting, but not that much… a scene in the middle, a scene at the end. It’s more a drama than an action piece, but that doesn’t make it bad. Both Miyagi and Daniel deal with some rotten enemies on this small island, and also spark up some hot lovin’ with the locals. Daniel-san’s training is far from complete, and Miyagi dispenses fortune cookie wisdom from his all-knowing goatee. Honor! Forgiveness! Fighting bad! Daniel would only achieve perfection when he finally took the sex change operation in part 4 and became Hilary Swank.
While Japanese culture received a lot more acceptance from the 90’s onward, in the 80’s anime and Hello Kitty weren’t as big or as widely accepted. The Karate Kid part II was certainly my first introduction to this culture and way of life, and I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s beautiful, not only in looks but in customs, but at times it can also be more stubborn than ten pugs you’re trying to keep away from a chicken bone on the floor. According to the movies, just about everyone in Japan is fanatical about honor to the point of throwing down and having a fight to the death with Richard-san in corporate accounting if he cracks a joke about your mother. The only concept similar to that in the States is if someone cuts you off in traffic and you vow vengeance or a fiery demise in a ditch to get even.
Now, I’m not one of those extreme Japanese culture-eating freaks who just about slit their wrists every day that they weren’t born in Japan and aren’t Japanese by race (like that guy who draws that depressing and dull web comic “Megatokyo”). But there is something about Japan that I do love, a mix of a hundred unique factors not really seen anywhere else in the world. I love the origami and the paper lanterns, the sliding doors and how girls hold their hands up to their mouths when they laugh at the weird Italian foreigner walking down the street. I especially love how they never quite seem to get a hang of English on their signs, but they love it enough to try anyway, usually with hilarious results. Except for this last thing, Karate Kid 2 manages to capture, like a firefly scooped up into a glass jar, some of the essence of Japan. It feels a bit like vacation watching this movie, and that compliments the plot nicely.
Side story that has nothing to do with this film except for the brief schoolyard scene: When I was over in Japan visiting a friend, he told me that I had to resist the urge to steal the Japanese children when I saw them. He was right; they are about the cutest things you’ve ever seen.
I make it a point to see a lot of movies that were among my heavy viewing rotation as a kid, and I discover that sometimes the films are just as great, and sometimes, they age incredibly poorly. Karate Kid part II is still as terrific, if not more, than my memories from watching it in my parents’ basement.
- The opening scenes (Daniel in the shower, and the confrontation in the parking lot with Kreese) are scenes that were filmed for, and edited out of the end of The Karate Kid. The new scenes begin when the title card “Six months later” appears.
- Work on this sequel started ten days after the release of the first film.
- Sweep the leg… that never gets old!
- Daniel, that is one FRILLY tux shirt
- Miyagi’s little noises crack me up
- If you pay attention, you can see through the letter Miyagi gets to see that it’s written in Japanese, and in columns — for a letter that’s not seen from the front, this is a cool detail
- Miyagi’s bows
- Gorgeous shot of the blue clouds over the water on the airplane flight
- Kids’ toys can teach you karate
- Lot of 50’s cars in this flick
- The funeral scene is beautiful
- Daniel’s speech to Miyagi always makes me tear up, it’s perfect
- The famous ice-chopping scene
- Aw… America already loves you, cute Japanese girl!
- How can you NOT fall in love with this girl during the tea ceremony?
- At the very beginning of the scene where Yukie and Miyagi are on their evening walk, she is heard asking him if he remembers their song. The tune Miyagi sings to her is the same one he lazily sings to himself at the very start of the ‘drunken anniversary’ scene from the original Karate Kid. Both times, Miyagi is heard singing off camera.
- Visit Okinawa!
- Okinawa, Japan, consists of 161 islands and is located on the same latitude as Florida and Hawaii. While it tried to maintain independence, Okinawa was annexed by Japan in 1879. To this day, many people there consider themselves Okinawans, not Japanese. A key island in the Pacific Theater, Okinawa saw major action in 1945, and 1/4 to 1/3 of the civilian population was killed. After World War 2, the US kept an occupation in Okinawa twenty years past the other islands, and still has a military presence there. The area originated karate as a martial art style.
Daniel: How come every time I have a problem, you have work for me to do?
Miyagi: No breathe, no life.
Miyagi: Rule number one, karate for defense only. Rule number two, first learn rule number one.
Daniel: Yeah, I’m sorry, that was pretty stupid.
Miyagi: Miyagi say same thing to father when that happened. Father agreed was stupid. Father was right.
Daniel: Look. We’re a hit, we should take it on the road.
Girl: But… we’re on the road…
Daniel: What am I supposed to do?
Daniel: What are you going to do?
Miyagi: [talking about guys’ private parts] Primary target.
Mr. Miyagi: Because Daniel, for man with no forgiveness in heart, life worse punishment than death.
Daniel: You think you could break a log like that?
Miyagi: Don’t know. Never been attacked by a tree.
Miyagi: Daniel-san, never put passion before principle. Even if win, you lose.
Daniel: Live or die, man?
Daniel: Wrong. HONK!
Sato: Out of respect for my teacher, I give you three days to mourn. When finish, I come back. You prepare to join him.
Daniel: You know… when my father died, I spent a lot of time thinking I hadn’t been such a great son. It seemed to me like I could have listened to him a little more, spent a little more time with him… I felt so guilty, you know, like he did everything for me and I didn’t do anything for him. Then one day it occurred to me… that I did the greatest thing of all for him just before he died: I was there with him, and I held his hand, and I said goodbye.
Kumiko: [after Daniel offers to take Kumiko to America with him] But this is my home.
Daniel: Home is where you hang your hat.
Kumiko: Do you think that I would like America?
Daniel: I think you’d love it.
Kumiko: Do you think that it would love me?
Daniel: Well, I know one part of it that already does.
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