My old buddy Ron Mason and I were chatting earlier and he mentioned that he was watching The Karate Kid part 2.
I laughed and said "Oh man... that's one of the greatest bad movies ever."
To which he responded "What are you talking about? That's just a great movie!"
First off... No. It's not a great movie. At least not in the sense that The Godfather is a great movie. Or Finding Nemo. Or Finding Neverland. Or Finding Forrester (You got that right DAWG). Okay... Finding Forrester isn't great. It may fit into the "Great, BAD movie category that Karate Kid 2 fits in, though. Let me briefly discuss the difference...
A GREAT movie features at least a couple of the following: Memorably great performances. Spectacular (quotable) dialogue. Chilling scenes. Lasting images.
A Great BAD movies also may feature all of these things, but it also features a surprising lack of self-awareness.
For example... The Godfather has unbelievable performances from Brando, Pacino, Duvall... All great. It features the line "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse". One of the most iconic film lines of all time. It features one of the most classic sequences ever with the baptism/assassination scene. And that final image of Michael Corleone standing there as the door closes... so lasting. So memorable. And not a single one with an unintentional laugh.
The Karate Kid part 2, on the other hand, may feature all of these same types of things... Morita/Machio, "Live or Die man?" "Die" "Wrong" **HONK**. I mean.... COME ON!!! He squeezes the bad-guy's nose! After the bad guy nearly murders his love interest? You're telling me we aren't supposed to sort of chuckle at that nonsense? How about the scene with the dancing and the ice? Daniel LaRusso is one of the most ridiculous characters ever conceived.
So anyway... here are the things that I feel beg more discussion in The Karate Kid part 2.
1) First... the plot device where Daniel-San goes to Japan with Miyagi... is so fucking stupid that I can hardly stand it. First... working in the aviation industry, I know what an ASAP ticket costs. It's a lot. I know that Miyagi has some sort of weird stash of money or whatever, but that's a fucking CHUNK of change. Second... Daniel-San actually tells Miyagi at one point that he's more important to him than school. To quote the illustrious Bill Simmons "uncomfortable". Third... doesn't it seem like there's no end to this trip? I mean... there seems to be no time-frame within the story. Suddenly Daniel-San is just gonna live indefinitely in Japan. Whatever.
2) Does it matter at all that the plot is almost identical to the first movie? Daniel-San is thrown into a situation where he's the outsider. He meets a hot local girl who also happens to draw the interest of the town badass karate expert/asshole. He gets into a bunch of scrapes (from many of which Miyagi must save him). He inexplicably ingratiates himself to the town, turning them against their "favorite son". In the final fight, he succeeds in executing a move so inane...so stupid... that the convention of it being impossible to defend is mind-blowingly retarded. And then he gets the girl, which considering that it was Macchio is maybe the most hard to swallow plot-point of all.
3) Let's talk about these "impossible to defend" karate moves. The first movie provided us with the Crane Kick.A silly, limbs flapping varietal of a jump kick that well... let's be frank. If Johnny didn't know that shit was coming, he's clearly been huffing. I mean come-the-fuck-ON. Still... The Crane Kick isn't half as ludicrous as the... Well... I don't know that it has a name at all... I'll call it "The Little Drummer Boy". I don't really even know how to describe it except that you remember those drum toys that were popular in the late 80s? The ones with the little drum on a handle, with two wooden balls on strings that sort of whapped the drum as you rotated it back and forth? Well... I'm pretty sure your sanity has this movie to thank for thrusting that fucking thing unto the world. So basically, during the final confrontation, Daniel-San is getting his ass handed to him (the most realistic moment in the entire trilogy...you know... aside from every other time he gets his ass handed to him) and suddenly Miyagi and the rest of the entire town busts out these drum things and start whapping them around. Now.. you'd think that the bad-guy, The guy who's lived in this place his entire fucking life, and who also happens to be some sort of martial arts expert would know what this gesture would mean. You'd think that in all of the time he spent training with his uncle Sato (who spends most of his time hitting a log. Seriously.) this guy might recognize the hints these people are tossing Daniel-San. Of course Daniel-San somehow recognizes the percussion display to mean that it's time to throw a relentless hail of "double punches" to the rhythm of the drums... Or to resemble one of those drums. Who knows? It's so stupid. But in any case, the karate master doesn't get it, and gets beaten like the proverbial drum by this silly little American kid who's literally never even attempted the move before. Like... how fucking embarassing.
HOW DOES THE EVIL NEPHEW NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS. HOW? I'll never understand it to this day.
That said... this movie is so watchable it goes all the way around the circle of "Bad" and ends up being great again. It's so hilariously, unintentionally funny that you have to watch it every time it's on. To see the insipid look on Daniel-San's face when he watches the little Japanese Elizabeth Shue do her tea ceremony is priceless. Watching him get his ass beat 8 ways to Sunday for most of the movie is worth the time spent.
The fight scene at the end is great for a ton of reasons. Why doesn't anyone stop this fight from happening? The dude tosses and then punches the Japanese Elizabeth Shue! The guy pulls a knife (not honorable AT ALL.) They act like this old temple with the moat is somehow impenetrable, and when they're in the middle, they're totally unreachable. Of course, the fight itself is high comedy. I mean... he honks his nose! Now does he not only NOT die with Honor, but he has to live with the shame of a modern day coo-counting at the hands of one of the most inane, pussy-ish, pretty boys on the face of the Earth. I think I'd toss myself into the bottomless abyss of that moat and be done with it.