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KARATE KID PART II

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Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita
Director:  John G. Avildsen
Audio:  Dolby 2.0 Surround (English, French) Dolby 2.0 Mono (Spanish, Portuguese)
Video:  1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 4:3 Pan & Scan
Subtitles:  English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
Studio:  Columbia Tri-Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  113 minutes
Release Date:  July 10, 2001

“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 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 ***

Thank the gods that Karate Kid II has not suffered the same “Pan & Scan” fate as the original.   Now I can finally throw away my old VHS copy. Here, Columbia has offered up an anamorphic widescreen version (so the whole film can actually be seen) as well as a pan & scan one.  The result is a rather impressive video transfer that gets things done right.   Black levels are represented well, and the skin colors come across looking incredibly true to life.  A great job by Columbia, period.

Audio **1/2

While most of the pro-logic track comes from the front soundstage, in the form of dialogue, the surrounds occasionally come alive with composer Bill Conti’s (Rocky) score.  While I certainly would have preferred a track in 5.1, generally this is a suitable track for the material that’s provided.

Supplements **

Included first is an Original Featurette almost six minutes in length.   While it’s nice that this was included, it seems kind of pointless, as it’s merely promotional.  Rounding out the rest of the supplements were filmographies and trailers for The Karate Kid Parts I & II, Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles, and finally, Godzilla (cringe).   

Summary:

A respectable entry into the Karate Kid series, I’m glad Columbia finally released this film.   Although the disc is somewhat sparse on supplements, it still sports a pretty good audio and video transfer, and is worth owning merely for the film itself.