The Okinawa Kid
After the success of the original "The Karate Kid", which went onto gross over $90 million in the U.S. alone, it was no surprise that a sequel would be on the cards. The first movie perfectly set up the characters that too not build upon it would seem a little daft. It was also a movie which gave us one of the most annoying and over used mantras from 80's cinema which was "Wax On, Wax Off" and caused numerous teenagers to try and emulate the karate move "The Crane". A sequel certainly made a lot of sense. But then as often happens a sequel can be a treacherous affair, spoiling the magic of the original and ending up just another rehash. Thankfully "The Karate Kid, Part II" did not fall foul to the numerous hazards and managed to come across as a continuation of the storyline rather than just an inadequate re-working.
6 months after winning the All Valley Karate Championship life has changed for Daniel (Ralph Macchio - Crossroads), his girlfriend has left him, his mother has had to go and nurse his sick uncle and Mr. Myagi (Pat Morita - Honeymoon in Vegas) receives a telegram from Okinawa telling him that his father is seriously ill. With the sudden bad news Mr. Miyagi and Daniel head off to his homeland where Mr. Miyagi discover that the feelings he once had for someone still run strong and an old rival still has a grudge against him which causes Daniel to find unwanted attention.
A huge part of the reason why "The Karate Kid, Part II" works is that it's not just a rehash and that not only do Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita return but so does director John G. Avildsen and screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen. What they have done is take all those pivotal elements of the original such as the relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, the lessons he teaches him as well as the subtle life message that the original delivered and built on them whilst also delivering a continuation of the storyline which allows for further character developments. It all works well and means that "The Karate Kid, Part II" still has the same appeal as the original but gives us enough differences and new elements to stop it feeling too repetitive.
What really works well this time round is that the storyline makes Mr. Miyagi its focus and takes us on a journey into his past and culture. With the majority of the movie being set in his home country of Okinawa it gives the movie a different feel and as Daniel learns about his culture and the history so do we. I can't say how accurate any of the storyline is but it gives the movie an interesting element and no doubt caused the audiences at the time of release to want to learn more about the history and the culture of Okinawa. It's also the history of Mr. Miyagi himself which provides the main theme for the movie and this certainly helps to stop it feeling like a rehash of the original. Yes Daniel ends up getting into a fight to defend his honour but it is what is expected in the Karate Kid movies and although predictable is needed.
As with the "The Karate Kid" part of the sequels charm is that it delivers a life message, this time round it's about forgiveness. But like with the original the message it doesn't feel forced or thrown in as an after thought. It is part of the ongoing storyline and subtly runs in the background before making its worthy point towards the end of the movie.
Like with the original the relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi is pivotal and this time round grows from being mainly pupil/mentor to a more father/son relationship. It works well and allows for the characters to naturally grow. Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita both continue where they left off recreating their characters but also the natural chemistry between them, so much so that you get a sense that the relationship was very similar off screen as it was on. What also works well is that although there are other story elements such as romances and past rivalries which allow for good performances from the supporting cast, the focus on the relationship is much stronger and this encourages it to feel like a continuation of the first movie.
What this all boils down to is that "The Karate Kid, Part II" is a very good sequel. It manages to keep those elements of the original which are important but develops the storyline and most importantly the characters so it never feels like just a sub standard rehash. Whilst the focus of the movie moves more to Mr. Miyagi who is brilliantly played by Pat Morita there is enough action for Ralph Macchio to display his karate skills.