The Karate Kid—Part II (1986)

(On TV, March 2017) The first ten minutes of The Karate Kid—Part II do something very obnoxious and then very interesting. It starts with a TV-show-style recap of the previous episode (ugh), but then follows-up by delivering the epilogue that the first movie so clearly lacked. Then, in the next ten minutes, it draws up a fantasy of a quiet summer spent chilling and training … only for adventure to beckon. From that moment, it’s off to exotic Okinama (actually Hawaii, but the change of scenery is significant) for an adventure in foreign lands, flipping the agency of the story from the younger protagonist to the older one. As a “here’s what I did during my summer vacations” story, it’s pretty good despite odd missteps along the way: the ending is ridiculously overdone, with elements that wouldn’t pass muster even in a less demanding kid’s movie. (I was particularly disappointed by the whole “let’s lift a beam” shtick, and even less convinced by the subsequent “I will run away and threaten a girl” follow-up. Still, the charm than made The Karate Kid is mostly intact, and this sequel at least has the advantage of not redoing the first film’s plot verbatim. Much of the strengths of the film can be traced back to likable performances by Ralph Macchio and Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, even though the latter’s character does lose a considerable amount of mystery as his history is detailed. Still, as a sequel, it’s decent enough—not quite as iconic at the first movie, but worthy of being watched by fans of the first film.

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