About a year ago I re-watched The Karate Kid (TKK) and The Karate Kid Part II (TKKPII), two beloved films from my flowery youth. Here are my most magical thoughts.
TKK is a legitimately good film, not just a good brawler or just a good teen flick or whatever. It’s a good movie. In fact, it’s terrible if you’re hoping to see a fighting movie or a teen movie. The film is directed by John G. Avildsen, who also directed Rocky (1976). In many ways it seems that TKK is a remake of ol’ Rocky. We have an underdog asshole training to fight and attempting to woo some chick while taking sage advice from a weird old man. However, I have to say that TKK is an overall more enjoyable film than Rocky. The damn thing is a time capsule of 1984, with bad 1984 clothes, bad 1984 music, kids playing in arcades, blah blah. It comes across as the opposite of a John Hughes movie. The fighting is also very realistic. There are no backflips and flying around on wires. Most of the fighting is rather slow like in real life. And on another topic, the good guys are not magical angels and the bad guys are not pure evil. It becomes clear that the mean kids act the way they do because they have a really bad egg for a mentor and by the end of the film they clearly begin to question him in a realistic, convincing manner. You should see it!
TKKPII has the same director, writer, composer and stars as TKK. So what the fuck went wrong? There actually is one good scene – the opening scene that was actually filmed in 1984 to be the closing scene of TKK but cut in the final edit. This scene further displays the plausible complexity of the ‘bad kids’ from TKK. And then the scene ends and the screen says “SIX MONTHS LATER”. As if by magic, everything has changed since the first movie. First, we learn that the girlfriend, who was incredibly supportive of ol’ Karate Kid and also better looking than he could ever hope to find in another woman, has left our hero for “a football player”. Oh, thank God! She was just a typical stupid flighty woman after all (PS – I hate commas now). So apparently, Da Karate Kid has to have a different girlfriend in every movie, like James Bond and Indiana Jonez. ANYWAY, to make a dumb story short, our heroes end up in Japan where, as it turns out, everything is really boring. Seriously, really boring. Apparently, everyone in Japan still dresses like it’s the 1950s and even hold sockhops in the middle of the day. This time around the villians is just plain bad with no sophistication. Oh, wait, except one of them becomes good because it rained hard. But the other one stayed bad. And then Daniel gets a new girlfriend who does stupid shit like make him watch her do boring tea ceremonies. Then, when they’re about to kiss, the aforementioned hard raining begins. Finally, the bad guy that stayed bad puts on a fucking awesome gi and fights The Karate Kid. Do you remember when the 1960s Green Hornet and Batman shows had a crossover and fucking Robin, played by Casey Casem, fought Kato, played by fucking Bruce Lee, to a standstill? How laughable is that? Well, that’s basically how laughable The Karate Kid fighting this bad guy with a cool gi is. The bad guy is clearly twice as strong, twice as fast, twice as smart, twice as Asian, and twice as determined. Don’t worry, Daniel does a lame gimmicky move and the movie ends.
After that I decided not to re-watch The Karate Kid Part III.