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  Karate Kid Part II, The Japanese Boy
Year: 1986
Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Tamlyn Tomita, Yoji Okumoto, Danny Kamekona, Nobu McCarthy, Martin Kove, Joey Miyashima, Arsenio 'Sonny' Trinidad, Marc Hayashi, Will Hunt, Lee Arnone, Sarah Kendall, Raymond Ma, Charlie Tanimoto, Chad McQueen, BD Wong
Genre: Drama, Action, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) has made his presence felt at the local karate championships, defeating the bullies who made his life a misery and all thanks to the skills imparted to him by his mentor, Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita). Outside the stadium, they return to their car with the trophy for first prize, but are distracted from their joy by the rival coach Kreese (Martin Kove) haranguing the competitor who Daniel beat. Mr Miyagi is having none of that and walks over, tricking Kreese into breaking his hands and humiliating himself - but he will soon receive a letter from home.

And that letter will take both him and his pupil all the way to Japan, Okinawa to be exact (although this was actually filmed with Hawaii standing in), where he will face his old enemy, Sato (Danny Kamekona). Or will he? Unlike other martial arts films from across the globe, and unlike the first instalment for that matter, this was extremely reluctant for its heroes to start bustin' moves and dole out the kicks and punches on the deserving bad guys. In fact, what most of this consisted of was a cross cultural romance, not between Daniel and Mr Miyagi of course, but between Daniel and a girl he meets in Japan, Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita in her debut and with her hair in her eyes most of the time).

Which was all very well, but if you'd enjoyed watching the two characters from the original waxing on and waxing off, and Elisabeth Shue for that matter, then the lack of action here was disappointing, and the philosophy was lacking too as it may have been an admirable "don't fight because it leads to misery" lesson, but that didn't make for much of a movie. Besides, this would have been offered far more weight if there had been any evidence of a police force in the Japan we see, seriously, the kind of harrassment and bullshit that Sato and his minions gets away with should have put him away for years, his chief minion being Chozen (Yoji Okumoto) who has it in for Daniel, and generally acts like a complete psychopath.

Seems if there's no one to stop the bullies, or at least a mindset in their victims that they will stoically put up with the humiliation, then the baddies can get away with whatever they like, and Sato thinks he is due a fight with Mr Miyagi since he stole his love away from him all those years ago, when apparently she's been pining for him all this time seeing as how Mr Miyagi was forced to leave the country. Incidentally, if you ever wanted to hear what a Japanese Cookie Monster sounds like, then check out Sato's dialogue here; all the Japanese characters speak English, even among themselves with Daniel the sole Westerner in their vicinity. Maybe they were being courteous to their guest? Even the villains?! Anyway, it seems as if this is building up to something.

Except that it doesn't really, and ends with a damp squib after what seems like hours of Daniel and Kumiko making eyes at each other and oh-so-tentatively moving in for a chaste kiss. Come on, Ralph, you were thirty-eight years old when you made this, surely you could have been more daring? With interludes which see Daniel proving his mettle by karate chopping a few sheets of ice for a bet, or gambolling with Kumiko by the beach while Pete Cetera's soft rock smash hit The Glory of Love whines on the soundtrack, it's almost as if the filmmakers were trying to distract you from the fact that they didn't have enough plot here and were drawing it out for as long as they possibly could, with not even the change in location proving much diversion when it was essentially running through the same two interchanging set-ups (intimidation and romance). By the time the typhoon arrives, the actual combat looks too much like an afterthought... oh yeah, nearly forgot, here's some karate for you. Music by Bill Conti.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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