John Avildsen got it all right. He hit the nail right on the goddam head actually. Take a young, witty and street-wise east coast kid, Daniel-san and stick him for training with the wisest old guy from all of Japan and you have a start. Toss in a gang of white-bread teenage hooligan bullies who are only a switchblade and a hard-knock life short of a 1980’s inner-city street gang. Finally, make all these principals into clavicle-breaking karate virtuosos, and after a thunder-strike chop to your forehead you’ll realize you’ve just been blasted by a great movie! That was The Karate Kid (1984).
Oh, the damage two years can do to a movie concept. The sequel, Karate Kid II pretty much lacks all of the promise and delivery mentioned above. It’s badly written, scripted, and just an all-around awful production; and yet, it was the top-grossing movie of this weekend circa 1986. There’s something to be said about expectations for a follow-up movie that capitalizes on the remaining luster of the original. The odd thing is, this movie had all the same primary character actors, same director (for shame, John Avildsen), and the same writers. So all I can think is that Columbia Pictures ordered a move ahead onto Part II as soon as it became evident that they had struck gold with the first.
Again, it’s bad, but there is one redeeming quality…a bad-ass end fight:
It all begins with some celebration in some ancient Japanese castle ruins. I can’t tell you anything about this spot because, well, it was introduced somewhere earlier in the story that sucked too badly to remember. Then…
Dude zip-lines on lantern strings down to Daniel-san at the center of the castle. That’s dope!
Next, dude orders the bridge leading to the fight-spot off into the depths of some encircling volcanic lava or some shit. Also dope!
Daniel-san FAILs at his signature crane-jump-kick. Aw daaaamn…
At this critical point, these Japanese drum rattle things are used convey to Daniel-san increased strength and focus – it was dope!
And of course, dopest:
“Playing this weekend in” is a bumbling attempt at a web log series where I watch and write about a movie that was opening this upcoming weekend in some god-forsaken time in the past. The idea is that it was a top-grossing movie in the box office at that despicable time and you likely would have chosen to see it because of your lack of time machine or adequate foresight. To see other articles in this series click on the playing_this_weekend_in descriptor tag-thing. Hope you enjoy it.