Following the fantastic film that is The Karate Kid, the second chapter has the bar set very high. Does it fulfill the expectations set by the first movie? It’s been done by films like The Empire Strikes Back, Toy Story 2, and The Dark Knight, but sadly, The Karate Kid Part II cannot contribute to that list. It pains me to say it, but this film is atrocious.
The movie opens with a scene immediately following the events of the first film, taking place in the parking lot of the All Valley Karate Tournament, and this scene is actually pretty well done; in fact, it’s a quality contribution to the Karate Kid mythology. Following this scene, the film jumps forward six months in time, and from this point on, the movie is absolutely horrendous.
The plot consists of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi travelling to Okinawa after Miyagi receives news that his aging father is close to death. The idea of Daniel journeying to Japan to further his studies of martial arts is actually a pretty interesting idea, but it’s watered down by a tediously dull story with a new cast of Japanese characters, none of whom are interesting in the slightest, and all of whom are painfully stereotypical.
The villains of the film are easily one of its worst aspects. The horribly written script provides shallow-to-nonexistent motivations for the villains, and the performances of Danny Kamekona and Yuji Okumoto as Sato and Chozen Toguchi are so obnoxiously over-the-top that I, as an audience member, could not take them seriously, and because these characters are central to the narrative, I could not take the story seriously.
Daniel and Miyagi are fine in this movie. The film doesn’t ruin the characters, as many substandard sequels do, but it doesn’t make them particularly compelling either. Although Part II doesn’t ruin his character, Miyagi is far less interesting in this movie than he is in the original, where he maintains a sense of mystery and wisdom that are completely forsaken in this film. Daniel’s arc has far less to do with furthering his character and advancing his martial arts, and far more to do with a monotonous romance with a young Japanese girl, who I found to be extremely and utterly irritating, as I loathed every frame in which she was on screen. The character was shallow, annoying, and contributed nothing to the story. I would guess most of the blame for these flaws would fall on director John G. Avildsen, who has previously directed fantastic works such as Rocky and the first Karate Kid film, but this movie simply doesn’t work.
One of the more egregious deficits of this film is the loss of compelling metaphor and practical lessons that permeated the first movie: another symptom of the sub-par script and the reduction of Miyagi’s character.
The Karate Kid Part II is an explicitly unworthy sequel to The Karate Kid, suffering from a tediously boring script, a poor story, shallow characters, and obnoxious stereotypes, with few redeeming qualities.