Picks and Pans Review: Karate Kid Part Ii
The Karate Kid was one of 1984's smashes, grossing more than $100 million to date. That tale of the underdog overcoming tremendous odds was based on the relationship between the teenage Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and his personal martial arts mentor Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita). With enough action to satisfy the popcorn gobblers, it was a complete summer movie. Part II was born with an obvious predicament for director John Avildsen: how to reestablish yet broaden Macchio's and Morita's story without rehashing the original. It was a losing battle. In this sequel, Morita humbles his nemesis from the original movie (Martin Kove), and six months later Macchio announces that his mother is moving and his girlfriend has left him. So when Morita receives a letter telling of his father's illness, he heads for his native Okinawa, with Macchio in tow. They find that all is not as Morita left it 45 years before. For starters, his village is now part of a U.S. air base. Morita also has trouble with the local landlord (veteran character actor Danny Kamekona). Long ago, the landlord lost his honor when Morita stole his wife to be (Nobu McCarthy). "In Okinawa, honor has no time limit," says Morita, explaining why his former friend still holds the grudge and intends to fight him to the death over it. Despite the inevitable confrontations—one of them matches Macchio against Kamekona's nephew (Yuji Okumoto)—the fighting is again not at the film's heart. Honor, custom and tradition are its focus, and the decidedly slow pace and beautiful village scenes, shot in Hawaii, lend some integrity to the plot. Morita also returns to his first love (McCarthy), while Macchio finds a new one (Tamlyn Tomita). Morita brings the same charm to the role that won him an Oscar nomination, and Macchio and the rest of the cast are workmanlike. But the film is ultimately too predictable, even somewhat tiresome, and Karate Kid Part II goes down kicking. (PG)
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