John G. Avildsen
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Martin Kove, William Zabka, Ron Thomas, Rob Garrison, Chad McQueen, Tony O'Dell
Robert Mark Kamen
One more lesson to share. The price of honor. The glory of friendship. And the way you must fight when only the winner survives.
Presenting the complete Karate Kid Collection, a rousing collection of four uplifting, coming-of-age adventures that will leave you cheering! Two teenagers learn important lessons in life, friendship and the art of self-defense from their wise mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Starring Ralph Macchio, Oscar®-nominated Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (Best Supporting Actor, The Karate Kid, 1984) and Academy Award®-winner Hillary Swank (Best Actress, Boys Don't Cry, 1999).
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Runtime: 113 min.
Release Date: 2/1/2005
• Original featurette
Available only as part of The Karate Kid Collection
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Mitsubishi WS65315 65" TV; Pioneer VSXD409 Home Theater Receiver; Sony DVP NC665P 5 Disc DVD player; KLH Home Theater Speakers
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The Karate Kid II: The Karate Kid Collection (1986)
Reviewed by Brian Ludovico (February 18, 2005)
After the credits roll over the ‘previously in The Karate Kid’ section, The Karate Kid Part II opens with a scene actually cut from the original’s ending. Outside the tournament, Miyagi (Pat Morita) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) catch evil Kreese (Magical Marty Kove) abusing his own students, as he’s completely enraged by their failure. Miyagi’s handling of the situation here is important, as it becomes the driving force in the ludicrous third chapter, but that’s for another time.
Karate Kid II then flashes forward six months and begins its own story on senior prom night. Despite kicking ass in the tournament, Daniel’s life is in shambles. First of all, his lady love Ali has wrecked the classic car that Miyagi gave Daniel in the first film. What’s worse, she picked today to tell Daniel that she’s fallen in love with some football player and is dumping his skinny ass. What kind of bitch does this on senior prom night? She let Daniel go rent a tux, get all pumped up and then pulls this crap? Talk about dragging a character through the mud since she’s not even in the movie.
Unfortunately, things get worse, provoking even more whining from Daniel. His mother apparently has to move to Fresno for the summer for some kind of training, presumably with the restaurant; it’s safe to say Mrs. Larusso didn’t exactly have a detailed plan for moving 3000 miles. That means that Daniel is going to live in Fresno all summer, which he isn’t happy about. Miyagi kindly takes Daniel in for the summer and lets him live in the guest room he’s just built, but Daniel’s horrible luck must be contagious. Miyagi immediately gets a letter from his native Okinawa informing him that his father is gravely ill, and he should come to visit him. This gives Miyagi the chance to explain to Daniel why he left Okinawa all those years ago.
As it turns out, before there was a Mrs. Miyagi in an internment camp, there was a star-crossed love in Okinawa named Yukie. Miyagi fell in love with Yukie (Nobu McCarthy), and she with him, but according to old Japanese tradition, Yukie was betrothed to another man. That other man happened to be Miyagi’s childhood friend and fellow student of his father’s karate, Sato (Danny Kamekona). Sato was enraged and demanded that Miyagi face him in a fight to the death in ordered to recover his tattered honor. Miyagi knew that his father didn’t teach them karate to use against each other in a death match, and he also didn’t want to fight and potentially kill his best friend. Miyagi saw only one way out: he left Okinawa for the USA that day, and never looked back.
In the years that passed, while Miyagi went through a meteoric rise to maintenance man at a crappy L.A. apartment building (okay, so he did win the Medal of Honor, too), Sato built a vast commercial empire on Okinawa, with many business concerns and real estate that includes the land on which Miyagi’s old village sits. As we learn upon Miyagi’s arrival, Sato’s rage and contempt for his former friend haven’t diminished one iota. In fact, the years seem to have honed them to a hard, sharp edge. Sato demands that the two of them face off immediately or dire consequences will be suffered. Miyagi, of course, refuses to fight. When his father finally does pass away, Sato gives Miyagi three days to mourn, and an ultimatum: fight or the village will be plowed under.
All that sounds like a pretty good film, right? It would be, if there wasn’t the constant interruption of Daniel, putzing around the village and the island. Daniel gets a lightly reworked version of his plotlines from the original: wrong side of the wrong guy and a strictly G-rated love interest. In this case, the wrong guy is Sato’s nephew Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). Chozen just plain doesn’t like Daniel, pretty much because his uncle doesn’t like Miyagi. Daniel puts him over the edge by proving him wrong in the famous ice-breaking sequence and by exposing his scheme that’s been cheating the villagers out of their crop money. Every scene with these two in it plods ponderously toward the inevitable final showdown.
Of course, the other Daniel story angle is the love interest. This time, Daniel falls for a Okinawan young lady named Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita). She’s Yukie’s beautiful niece, and the local dance teacher. I have a real problem with the whole Kumiko/Daniel dynamic. There’s negative romantic chemistry between them. When they’re together, they actually make the movie less romantic. As an indirect result, Kumiko seems to exist solely to exhibit some ancient cultural tradition every two seconds. I appreciate the exposure to another vastly different culture, but this movie does it so much that it starts to feel like aping. And does Daniel have to be so stupid about this stuff? Saying things like “Forget the honor garbage!” and smugly remarking “Is this seat taken?” before a tea ceremony makes him look like an ass, not charming.
For me, the worst offense The Karate Kid II commits is cheating its viewers out of a true Miyagi/Sato throwdown, instead favoring Daniel and crazy Chozen at the dance festival. There’s absolutely no suspense to this fight; we know exactly how it will go. Not even Miyagi’s foreboding advice about this not being a tournament can help. We know Daniel will start off poorly against a physically superior opponent, that Chozen will gain a significant advantage and look like he’s about to win, and that Daniel will pull out some supposedly indefensible move and win. This one’s nowhere near as cool as the crane kick which little boys subjected each other to on a regular basis post-1984. This time, Daniel’s big move is sort of like a power bitch slap, inspired by some drum toy that the entire village apparently totes around at all times. How exactly was this move supposed to be indefensible? It’s not the unpredictability of the climactic showdown that ruins it; it’s the lack of emotional punch that accompanies it.
The film’s got a good deal of smaller problems, like the once-again over the top villainy (do we have to have the bad guys threaten to gang rape the love interest in all four movies?), the hilariously constipated delivery by Sato, and the fact that the film cuts the interesting material short in favor of the film’s title character. The original film had a lot of these same problems, but with one major difference: emotional resonance. This isn’t a David vs. Goliath tale any more - it’s just a run of the mill story. The Karate Kid II is at its peak at least a redeemable sequel, but it’s far from the enjoyability level of its progenitor. I really enjoyed the material with Miyagi and his culture, the funeral scene, Miyagi contemplating the loss of his father, and the overall scenery change by shifting the film to Okinawa. There are even a few scenes that actually advance the relationship between the two friends, but there’s far too much stuff here that just isn’t that interesting. I guess it would have been hard to call it a sequel to The Karate Kid without actually having the Karate Kid in it, but that would have been a far better film.
For all its flaws, it does have one thing definitely working for it: it’s better than Karate Kid III.
The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C/ Bonus D
The Karate Kid II appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD and has been anamorphically enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I was harboring hopes that the somewhat younger age of the film would show some improvement in the video rating compared to the first flick, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. This looks every bit as bad as its cinematically superior older brother.
Once again, we run into the same major problems that the first disc in the set has: terrible coloration and deplorably low clarity. Karate Kid II barely looks as good as broadcast television. The grain layer is just as bad as it was in the original movie, as it appears in more scenes than Daniel-san. Once again, anything involving interiors and close ups looks just horrible; check out the scene where Daniel and Miyagi are flying to Okinawa. The terrible rear-projection is fraught with negative artifacting and print flaws, but what’s worse is the color actually seems to fluctuate through the sequence. Inside the plane, we see some of the worst picture haze in the entire film. The problems actually detract from the content of the film, as the scenery on Miyagi’s native Okinawa are meant to be striking images of a serene land far away, but the dingy look of the DVD mutes out most of the effect. The only reason the picture isn’t even more disappointing is that this just isn’t as good a movie as the original. I guess it just hurts a little less.
It’s not a surprise to find that The Karate Kid Part II has a default audio track of Dolby Surround 2.0, and the fact that it isn’t exactly a world beater is equally expected. Overall clarity is actually pretty good, but directionality and localization effects are fairly weak. The closest this disc comes to an audio tour-de-force is during the pivotal storm sequence late in the film, when we hear a couple of different buildings collapsing to the left and right, but this really highlights where the movie could have used a full surround mix. Bill Conti returns as the musical supervisor, this time with much more of an Eastern mix and much less of the generic “Eighties rock” stuff, and with much better results artistically than the original. I wish there was more to say about the audio on this disc, but this is about as uninteresting an audio track as can be found.
The Karate Kid Collection takes a considerable step down in the bonus materials section on the second disc. We get only the film’s original featurette, a five and half minute puff piece that must have been used to drum up business for the sequel with cinemas. The participants are John Avildsen, Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and producer Jerry Weintraub, all circa 1988. Instead of interesting talk about what the sequel meant in relation to the original, it talks about what the sequel is going to do. The only other extra is the film’s horrible trailer.
Note that The Karate Kid II is only available as part of the three disc set “The Karate Kid Collection”, which also includes The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part III, and The Next Karate Kid. This means a couple of different things when it comes to this particular disc. First, it means that the film’s poor technical marks and sub par extras package are insignificant when it comes to the single disc; since there’s no way just to own this disc, they cannot affect a purchase. Second, and more importantly, it means that if any of these movies interest you enough to spend the money, you’re going to end up with this film. Basically, if you liked The Karate Kid enough to own it, then you’ll have The Karate Kid II on your shelf regardless of what you think of it. That said, The Karate Kid II is a pretty harmless and occasionally entertaining movie that’s far from the worst of the sequels, even though it doesn’t have the Kove.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6111 Stars
| Number of Votes: 18