Angelina’s ‘80s Archive: "The Karate Kid Part II"

We are living in confusing and frightening times. Having to separate ourselves from our friends, family, education, jobs, and extracurriculars is no easy feat. While these precautions protect the physical health of ourselves and others, they do not, in my experience, improve our mental wellbeing. Uncertainties are difficult to deal with, but know that while we are all apart, we remain in this thing together. I hope that you are all safe and in good health. To take your mind off of the craziness of the past month or so, here is the Bitchin’ Bio on The Karate Kid Part II.

Release Date: June 20, 1986

Synopsis: Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) accompanies his mentor Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) to Okinawa, where the older man’s father is dying. There, they become mixed up in a battle of honor with Mr. Miyagi’s ex-friend, Sato (Danny Kamekona), who holds decades of anger against Miyagi for leaving the country after interfering in his arranged marriage with Yukie (Nobu McCarthy). To make things worse, Sato’s nephew, Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), has it out for Daniel. Can Daniel follow Mr. Miyagi’s rules of karate and keep his cool in this high-pressure situation, while also pursuing a new relationship with Yukie’s niece, Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita)? Or will he give in to anger?

Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Same as the first movie! 1. Elizabeth Shue and Bacon co-starred in Hollow Man (2000).

Come For: A continuation of a fantastic first film.

Stay For: The fabulously ‘80s ending credits song, Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” and great outfits from Kumiko.

Had I Seen It? Maybe at some point when I was younger, but I don’t think so. 

Did I Like It? I can’t say I did. There’s really no improving upon the original, so I didn’t expect that to happen. However, I was expecting this movie to be at least comparable to The Karate Kid in enjoyability. Instead, it fell flat for me, starting with the heinous writing off of Ali Mills—Daniel’s girlfriend who was nothing but a wonderful character—by saying she wrecked Daniel’s car and told him she fell in love with a UCLA football player. 

(R.I.P. to their adorable relationship.)

Apparently, inconsistency is key in this movie, because Mr. Miyagi’s heartbreaking experience of losing his wife and child to complications at birth in an internment camp is completely glossed over in favor of a new story of his deep love for his former girlfriend from Okinawa.

In addition to these issues, I have a few more problems. First, I’d be lying if I said I understood Chozen’s motivation for his continued attacks on Daniel. Another thing I didn’t understand was why Lucille Larusso’s (Daniel’s mother’s) job, if it was the same restaurant job she held in the first film, would take her to Fresno for the summer. Nor did I appreciate Daniel’s attitude about that temporary move or subsequent abandonment of his mother to travel to Japan.

The out-of-place beginning, which recapped the first Karate Kid for a good few minutes, was too reminiscent of “And that’s what you missed on Glee” to be the start of a movie. The blatant physical child abuse of the Cobra Kai dojo members by their sensei seemed over the top, as did the “live or die” drama of the everpresent fights in Okinawa. Just as when we covered Back to the Future, we once again are faced with the mistreatment of women—in different instances, Kumiko is not only threatened by Chozen and his gang with sexual violence and weapons, but is also punched in the face by Chozen. IT. IS. INSANE. (And obviously not in a good way!)

Overall, The Karate Kid Part II was disappointing. Its plot was all over the place, with some random points that seemed to never be brought up again. Unfortunately, I worry that the lines I found funny were not supposed to be. Still, the movie had its moments, and at times, I was invested in seeing where it turned up in the end. That is the best I can say about it—The Karate Kid is quite a movie to live up to. 

I am sure I will fall deeper into this hole when I watch/write about Part III (1989) at some point in the future. Luckily, we’ve got a lot to keep us busy until then.  


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