Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ (1986)

This sequel starts exactly where the original one finishes including an overly long re-cap of the first film. There is debate around whether the first part of this movie was made at the same time as the original or if it was newly made. After that we see Miyagi’s amazingly beautiful garden and after receiving a letter from his family about his father being seriously ill he and Daniel-san are off to the main island of Okinawa in the south-west of Japan. However, it wasn’t really Okinawa but Oahu in Hawaii which filled in more cheaply. These reviews are categorized as being ‘set’ in Japan to allow for the inclusion of films like this!

I mentioned years ago in a pre-Okinawa trip post that this film gave me my first glimpse into Japanese life. One memorable feature of watching this at my mates house as a kid was the den-den daiko (hand-drum) which I had to wait nearly 20 years to get my hands on! On top of that there’s also tea ceremony and toro nagashi (floating lanterns) and we really get an insight into the charcters we fell in love with in the first film. Daniel’s love interest comes in the form of Kumiko; a Japanese dancer hanging around the place. I’d like to be able to say something profound about her being the first asian girl to tickle my fancy but the reality is that at that age I showed very little interest in any females!

Inevitably the story isn’t as good as the first and its premise is basically that this time Daniel-san is now fighting for his life rather than just for a Championship. As often happens with Hollywood productions we have the ridiculous scenario where two Japanese people, in this case Miyagi and his brother, speak to each other in English. As far as I know this only happens in an English classroom…..if you’re lucky!


TF Film Review: The Karate Kid (2010)

I recently saw the 2010 re-make of the Karate Kid and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Admittedly I had low expectations as the original is one of my all-time favourite films and didn’t want to see the usual bad re-make. Perhaps the reason it was better than I thought was that it stayed true to the original in many ways with the main changes being the location (China rather than California) and of course kung-fu replacing karate as the martial arts skill. Why its even called the Karate kid I don’t know!
I was surprised by how much I liked the Jackie Chan ‘Mr Han’ character (a chance for him to actually act for once!) and indeed the remake but its just not as powerful as the original. Will Smith’s son Jaden may only be 12 but he was charismatic and cool in the lead role. Incredible to see a boy of that age with muscles!
The chemistry between the two heroes in the original can’t be beaten and that film has had a lasting impact on many lives. It may not be in those top movie lists but its known by so many people. I can’t imagine the new one being remembered too far into the future although I did hear they were going to make another one. Not sure if it will follow the original part 2 as close as this one.
Given that the new one’s main character is so young the girl interest in the film is not so necessary and as much as I like Asian girls (not 12 year old ones though!) the Elisabeth Shue character is one I still look at and think as being very pretty which certainly can’t be said about most 80’s film actresses!
To be fair to the new film, Smith’s portrayal of ‘Dre’ is probably actually more convincing than Ralph Macchio’s ‘Daniel’ who, as much as I liked, didn’t really make me believe that he had become a karate expert. Though fearsome, the protagonists don’t play as much a part in the film as the ‘Cobra Kai’s’ (and particularly their leader Kreese) in the original which may be due to Smith featuring in almost every single scene if not them all!
Overall, this updated version of the Karate Kid was quite satisfying and very likeable and hopefully over time it will stand on its own feet without being compared to the original which of course is quite ironic as that’s exactly what I have done here!