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THE KARATE KID PART II
Blu-ray Edition

Film review by Alex Haberstroh
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita
Director:  John G. Avildsen
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Sony
Features:  See Review
Length:  113 minutes
Release Date:  May 11, 2010

“Daniel-San, never put passion before principle.  Even if win, you lose.” 

Film ***1/2

In 1984, a little film called The Karate Kid debuted.   The film tells the story of a teenager named Daniel who moves from New Jersey to California, only to face bullies who constantly torment him.  The centerpiece of the film is the unlikely bond that forms between Daniel and an old Japanese handyman named Miyagi, who teaches him karate.  

The Karate Kid, an instant classic, rocketed its duo to stardom, and became one of the best known films to come out of the eighties, leading many to ponder the true inner meaning of “wax on, wax off.” 

By 1986, those involved in the project were anxious for a profitable sequel to their blockbuster hit.  The premise: six months after having defeated Johnny and the Cobra Kai, Mr. Miyagi is informed that his ailing father in Okinawa needs him, meaning Daniel and Miyagi must venture there.  Unfortunately, Mr. Miyagi has a few other unresolved matters to handle once he gets to Okinawa.   Sato, his old best friend, still burns with hatred for what he views as a betrayal at the hands of Miyagi over forty five years ago, and is determined to kill him.  To make matters worse, Sato’s hatred has been inculcated in his nephew, who shares Sato’s bitter resentment and disgust for Miyagi and anyone close to him.

Surprisingly, the second entry in the Karate Kid films is not the typical sequel: namely, a bloated reconstruction of the first film.  Instead of merely regurgitating the plot of the first (which would later happen in the third and fourth entries), it actually has a powerful story of its own, and while slightly more serious than the original, it still retains the same heart.     The Karate Kid movies exposed a whole new generation to martial arts. Today martial arts and boxing are more popular than ever. Boxing and martial arts gyms have become one of the best fitness franchise options available. 

The performances by Macchio and Morita are terrific, and they both seem incredibly comfortable with their respective roles, and with each other.    Because of this, the characters develop even more fully over the course of the story, and there are some moving moments between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi that make the film as enjoyable, if not more, than the first.  

Video ***

Blu-services the sequel well...this disc never had the problem of pan-and-scan only release, but still, the anamorphic widescreen comes across nicely for an 80s transfer to high definition.  Colors are quite good, particularly once we leave the States and head east, and though there are some instances of grain in darker settings, images generally are cleanly and crisply rendered.

Audio **1/2

There's not a lot of rear channel usage here in this DTS HD soundtrack, but the original film featured a stereo soundtrack, so no big loss.  Dynamic range, as with the first film, comes mostly in the form of the music score and the fight scene at the end, but dialogue is always well-delivered against the other audio beds.

Features *1/2

There is an option pop-up trivia track you can access while you watch and a promotional featurette (short, and not much substance).  You can also access BD LIVE with this disc and an internet-capable player.

Summary:

Karate Kid II is a serviceable sequel that may only serve as the bridge between the great original and the horrible final entries.  It's nice to see it on Blu-ray, and stands as one of the better 80s offerings in the high definition format.

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