Best Movies of All Time + [Yuji Okumoto]

THE KARATE KID, PART II

THE KARATE KID, PART II1986

The Karate Kid, Part II is a 1986 drama directed by John G. Avildsen that works as a direct sequel to the 1984 film The Karate Kid. It takes up immediately where we left off in the first film, with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) leaving the arena where Daniel had just won his tournament with the famous crane kick. Fast-forward six months, and we learn that Daniel has to spend his summer in Fresno, leading him away from Miyagi for a few months. Miyagi receives a letter from his home in Okinawa, saying that his father is very ill. Daniel decides to accompany him to his native Japan. On the way, he learns that Miyagi originally fled the country after declaring his love for a woman named Yukie (Nobu McCarthy), who was in an arranged marriage with Miyagi's best friend Sato (Danny Kamekona). Rather than fighting Sato for Yukie's love, Miyagi left for the states, leaving Sato dishonored. Upon their arrival in Japan, Sato's nephew Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) meets them and takes them to his uncle who still wants to fight Miyagi to the death. Miyagi refuses and takes Daniel to see his dying father, but Sato and Chozen spend the rest of the movie trying to defend their honor and fight Miyagi and Daniel, respectively.

I know I've seen this film before in the past because as I watched it today, I recognized many of the scenes. However, this may be the first time I actually sat down and watched it all the way through; hence, this review. In some ways, this sequel surpasses the original, and in others, it falls short. Both films have their positives, but both films have their flaws as well. One way that Part II excels above its predecessor is with its screenplay. Whereas the initial installment focused strictly on Daniel's character and his coming-of-age tale through the art of karate, the second film gives us a more personal look at Miyagi, who is truly the heart of the franchise. By taking is to his home country, we see Daniel struggle not only with his ever-increasing karate skills but also the differences in a culture completely unlike his own. We also get to see a more human side of Miyagi, a character who was so good in the original film that it scored Morita an Academy Award nomination. One of the best instances of this is the following clip, which comes after Miyagi's father ultimately passes on:

There's a human element to Part II that stands out more prominently than in the original. That's not to say there aren't some issues with the screenplay. There was many a time that I rolled my eyes in laughter at some of the plot devices that were used. For example, towards the end of the film, when it appears that Sato and Miyagi will actually fight to defend their honor, a massive storm - maybe a hurricane? - happens to land on their village, ultimately forcing any fight to be postponed, at the least. A number of instances like this happen throughout the film, so the screenplay is anything but perfect, but I definitely think it's much more personable than the original.

Aside from Morita, the acting isn't anything to rave about, but it works considering within the confines of the Karate Kid universe. Morita is easily on par with his Oscar-nominated performance from the first film, and in a couple of scenes (including the embedded one above), I think he outdoes himself. Macchio does a little bit better with this film as well, but that's not saying much considering he wasn't all that phenomenal the first time around. We still get that skinny kid from Jersey, so it works. The two female supporting actresses (McCarthy and Tamlyn Tomita, who plays Daniel's love interest, Kumiko) are good in their roles. Sadly, our lead villains in Sato and Chozen prove to be the worst part of the film. It's over-acting at its finest for both Kamekona and Okumoto, and their performances ultimately hurt the film before they begin to help it.

Like its predecessor, Part II is also an Oscar nominee, but this time around, it gets the nod for its original song "Glory of Love." I don't know what else to say about that - I just figured I'd mention just to prove it is an Oscar-nominated film.

While it doesn't measure up in terms of its overall power (my readers will know that the climactic scene in the original Karate Kid film ranks as one of the most powerful moments in film for me), The Karate Kid, Part II is a serviceable continuation of the LaRusso-Miyagi story. I definitely enjoyed it, and if you enjoyed the first film, this one should prove to be nearly as good.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: B-
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