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The Karate Kid Part II

(1986) ** 1/2 Pg
113 min. Sony Pictures Releasing. Director: John Avildsen. Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Pat E. Johnson, Bruce Malmuth, Eddie Bo Smith Jr.

/content/films/3751/1.jpg"Daniel-san, nobody perfect." These words of wisdom from karate master Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) might well be the best approach to The Karate Kid Part II, the poky but reasonably enjoyable follow-up to its indelible 1984 predecessor.

Though two years had passed in the real world, The Karate Kid picks up right where the original left off, with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita, returning to his Oscar-nominated role) hanging around the showers as his mentee Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio, at 25 still a credible teen) enthuses over his recent karate tournament victory. After a crowd-pleasing confrontation with John Kreese (Martin Kove) in the parking lot, it's on to new business, unfolding six months later. Elisabeth Shue's character (who goes unseen here) is dispatched with a few lines of dialogue, and Miyagi receives bad news: his father is dying. Miyagi must return home to Okinawa, after a forty-five-year absence, to face his parents, an old enemy and an old love. And guess who wants to come along?

There's a TV-movie quality to The Karate Kid Part II, which too often plays like "a very special episode" of the Karate Kid series that never was. But the essential sweetness of the material is still there despite a less-than-sharp script by Karate Kid creator Robert Mark Kamen. Director John G. Avildsen also returns, as do composer Bill Conti and cinematographer James Crabe, with Oahu, Hawaii standing in for Okinawa. Though the focus is ostensibly on Miyagi as he reconnects with grudge-holding Sato (Danny Kamekona) and still-pining Yukie (Nobu McCarthy), but Daniel immediately finds his own love interest in Yukie's teenage niece Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita, making her debut) and his own enemy in Sato's bullying nephew Chozen (Yuji Okumoto).

The parallel storylines predictably work themselves out over two hours, but the picture does nothing to disgrace the original film. A nice subplot involving Kumiko's O-Bon dance hobby climaxes in a showdown at the local O-Bon Festival, with Miyagi's entire village looking on. As is so often the case with fight films, The Karate Kid Part II has its cake and kicks it too, by shunning the notion of wanton fighting and preaching honor and mercy while also staging the requisite fight sequences. Plus American mallrats got a little taste of far-flung culture, another win-win. Oh, and who could forget the immortal 1986 Oscar-nominated song "Glory of Love"? What's that you say? Well, I guess that's why God invented home video.

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Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 5/11/2010

Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Sony gives The Karate Kid Part II a transfer that's just as clean and film-like as that given the original film. Color and contrast are stable, and detail is excellent, and the sequel's emphasis on location work makes for some impressive natural-light imagery that shines on Blu-ray. Most importantly, no trickery has been employed to make the twenty-four-year-old film seem unnaturally sharp—it simply looks exactly as it should (no digital artifacting either). One shouldn't expect miracles from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, but certainly this is the defnitive hi-def audio presentation for this film, as it employs some nice separation and beefs up the music.

Like The Karate Kid, the sequel's disc includes a Blu-pop pop-up trivia track (though this one is pretty lame and includes no video interviews).

The only other bonus feature is the "Original Featurette" (6:18,SD) produced for the 1986 EPK. Included are film clips, a bit of B-roll from the set, and interview snippets with producer Jerry Weintraub, director John G. Avildsen, Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, and Ralph Macchio.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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