When I grew up as a kid there was a movie that always made me feel good. It is one of my favorite childhood movies and it’s called the Karate Kid. I watched this film at a time where attending school was a very dark place for me. I was bullied nearly every day, and here was a film where the same thing was happening to this young boy called Daniel. But guess what? He not only managed to gain respect and grow as a person, but he also beat his bullies in a brilliant way. It gave me hope that eventually everything can be beaten if you just put your mind to it. I will always be grateful to the movie for providing me a sense of relief and escapism in what was quite frankly a time in my life that I don’t like to look back on very often. Three years later the sequel came out. And it blew my young mind away again, but this time also for a few other reasons.
The second part of the Karate Kid literally starts where the first part ended. Daniel has just won the All-Valley Karate Tournament and prepares to go home with his teacher mr. Miyagi. Once outside the pair see Daniel’s rival from the first movie being accosted by his own sensei John Kreese. Luckily Miyagi intervenes just in time, proving that you should never hold a grudge for too long. Six months later mr. Miyagi receives a letter from his lost love in Okinawa, Yukei, telling him his father is very ill. Daniel is eager to find out who Yukei is, and he soon hears the story behind the reason for his old master’s departure from Japan all those years ago. Yukei was apparently arranged to marry a man named Sato, who was mr. Miyagi’s best friend. But when he fell in love with her, Sato challenged him to a fight to the death. Unwilling to enter into such a duel, Miyagi left Japan, leaving behind a heartbroken Yukei. Having no choice now but to go to Okinawa and his dying father, he departs in all haste, with Daniel travelling with him. Upon their arrival though, both master and student are about to find out that some people can hold a grudge for a very long time……
This movie is very dear to me. It’s my number one go to movie whenever I feel down or depressed. Somehow it never fails to lift my spirits. There are two things this film did besides the general feel good atmosphere it manages to create. The first is that it introduced me to Asian culture, more specifically the culture of Japan. I loved the many customs we as an audience get to experience through this film. One of the scenes that really still brings a smile to my face is the tea ceremony between Daniel and his love interest in this movie: Kumiko. It is a wonderful custom to observe, and it is also incredibly romantic. With this movie my interest for Asian culture in general started to take shape, a fact that continues to this day. The second thing it did was give me my first movie crush. I was absolutely mesmerised by the beauty of Kumiko, played by a young Tamlyn Tomita. In my young mind she was the perfect woman, and I completely fell in love with her. Ah teenage love can be so strange at times.
From an acting point of view there are some great roles that I think are worth mentioning. First up is Pat Morita, as mr. Miyagi. I think his role in this second part was even better than in the first movie, as in this film the spotlight is somewhat more on his story instead of focussing all the attention on Daniel. It gives us a few wonderful scenes, most notably the ones between him and Sato and his love Yukei. Sato played by Danny Kamekona is the perfect adversary for Miyagi. His gravelly voice is terrific, and he also manages to create a humanity to his character in a great way. Lastly we have Sato’s nephew Chozen Toguchi, played by Yuji Okumoto, who eventually becomes Daniel’s opponent. He is a particular breed of nasty, and you will come to hate him over the course of this film. Some of the things he does still gets my blood boiling after all these years, and it is only a big compliment to Okumoto’s acting, that he manages to invoke such a feeling.
Now some might argue how mediocre the fight scenes in this movie look. Certainly we are not watching a Jet Li or Jackie Chan movie here. The fights only serve to create some extra tension, in what is otherwise a really great and heartwarming film. I can’t express through words alone how much I still enjoy seeing this movie, even though it is now 31 years old. Both parts 1 and 2 are the ultimate feel good experience and are a perfect watch for whenever you just want to feel like you can take on the world again. It probably won’t please everyone, cynics might certainly point out the many flaws this film probably has, but I just love this movie to death. If you have never seen this one, I do recommend watching part 1 first. That movie establishes the relationship between mr. Miyagi and young Daniel, and to skip that would be to miss out on a lot of things. And remember to relax: wax on, wax off.
I give the Karate Kid part II a 10 out of 10 score.