Yesterday we covered the first film in the quartet, and today we're revisiting The Karate Kid: Part II, undoubtedly the best of the lot. It has the best fight choreography, the best dialogue, James Crabe's best camera work and a good villain. It's also the ballsiest film in the series, and not just because it attempts the risky maneuver of transplanting the Daniel LaRusso story to a foreign culture which the audience could have easily not identified with, but also because it successfully takes what's essentially been a story about mall karate and upgrades it into a martial arts film with death stakes. Surprisingly, what many fans appreciate most about Part II is its prologue, taken from material shot for the first film. Immediately following Daniel's win, the victory parade makes its way out to parking lot only to find Kreese in a non-celebratory mood. In fact, we see him break Johnny's second-place trophy into pieces, a moment that's incredibly irksome. Within moments, Miyagi is more or less saving Johnny's life and leaving Kreese in an embarrassed, bloody-fisted heap.
Elisabeth Shue's non-involvement in the sequel is quickly dealt with -- a prom break-up -- then a letter arrives summoning Miyagi to Okinawa, and Daniel decides to follow. The movie gets through all this rote exposition as fast as it can, and we're soon in Okinawa, where an entire soap opera has been frozen in amber for forty-five years, waiting for the return of Miyagi. The woman he loved, but left to come to America, still loves him. The rival who wanted to fight Miyagi to the death over that woman shows up as soon as Miyagi and Daniel arrive and reissues the challenge. Called Sato (Danny Kamekona), he's now a rich guy who is raping the entire village, but he wears cool tinted sunglasses. Sato has a nephew, Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) who cheats local farmers with some kind of scam involving phoney-baloney weights. LaRusso accidentally uncovers it one day by breaking one of the fake weights in half like a cookie, earning himself an eternal enemy in Chozen. Now that everyone hates everyone, the games can begin.