Karate Kid Part II, The (UK - BD)
Chris takes a quick look at the sequel to the immensely popular eighties movie...
The Karate Kid Part II opens with a ten minute recap of the events of the original film before fast-forwarding six months to the day after Daniel's senior prom. Unfortunately for our teenage hero Ali has run off with a college football player and his mother's job requires her to move yet again, this time to Fresno. Thankfully his wise old mentor and father figure, Mr. Miyagi, invites Daniel to stay with him instead. However, Miyagi suddenly receives news of his elderly father's ill health and decides to return to Okinawa, with Daniel in tow. In Okinawa Miyagi comes into conflict with his old friend and love-rival Sato, a ruthless businessman who holds a decades-long grudge. Meanwhile, Daniel falls foul of Sato's nephew, Chozen, and falls for a pretty Okinawan girl called Kumiko.
What is there to say about The Karate Kid Part II? Well firstly let's get the obvious out of the way—it's not as good as the original, even if it tries to emulate it. The basic plot of the film is actually very similar, but the elevated stakes aren't quite as relatable as those in the original feature. Most teenagers could imagine entering a karate tournament as the underdog, beating the bully and getting the girl, but I doubt many could imagine travelling to Okinawa, facing off against a corrupt Japanese businessman and fighting his psycho nephew to the death, all for the affections of the local hottie who happens to speak perfect English (along with everyone else, even when addressing other Okinawans). That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but for all the action and gorgeous Hawaiian scenery (it wasn’t shot in Japan) it just lacks the magic of the first instalment. However, the sequel does grant us a peek into Mr. Miyagi's past, and I really enjoyed the scenes where he reconnected with his long-lost love. These were among the most interesting and emotional moments in the film, and I kind of wish there’d be less Daniel-san and more Miyagi! I don't think I need to do an in-depth critique of such a well-known film, and suffice to say if you enjoyed the original you'll find much to like here.
The 1.85:1 (1080/24p AVC) transfer achieves parity with the original film, which is to say that it also has that eighties 'soft focus' look to it, particularly in the wider scenes. Detail levels are similar to the original film's Blu-ray transfer, with some impressive close-ups, but it's certainly not going to rival the best the format has to offer. Colours are natural throughout, with the lush greens of the Okinawan village looking particularly impressive, and blacks are also quite deep. Grain is present and correct, the print is generally very clean, and there doesn't appear to be too much in the way of digital manipulation (although I thought I spotted some minimal edge ringing). All-in-all, this is a pretty decent effort.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is again comparable to the one found on the original film's Blu-ray release. Surround action is fairly limited for the majority of the runtime, with only general crowd noise and the occasional burst of music really standing out, but the rears do come to life towards the end as the storm ravages the island. It's far more forceful than anything in the first film and the improved surround usage continues to the end, making for a more atmospheric climax. Aside from the storm and the odd musical number bass is fairly limited in its use, but that was almost to be expected given the source material. Dialogue is generally clear, but unlike the first film there were a couple of moments where I struggled to hear what characters were saying. Again, this is a competent presentation that remains faithful to the spirit of the original audio mix while adding some discrete elements, but it's not demo stuff.
Blu-Pop: First up we have Sony's new pop-up trivia feature. Unlike The Karate Kid, the sequel doesn't get pop-up video. Instead we have your run-of-the-mill trivia track, which is informative but far less exciting.
Original Featurette: The Sequel (06:18 SD): After the lengthy material on the original film’s Blu-ray release, I was sorely disappointed by the fluffy EPK-style featurette presented here. It includes shots from the film, behind-the-scenes footage, and talking head interviews with the cast and crew, but there’s really not much to learn here.
Trailers (02:16 HD): As with the original film’s Blu-ray release, there’s actually only one trailer, for Ice Castles.
BD-Live: A link to Sony’s online portal is included, but as usual there’s very little of relevance to the film on the disc.
Although not as good as the original film, The Karate Kid Part II is a solid enough sequel. Sure the plot is basically a rehash of the original with elevated stakes, but the stuff with Miyagi is enjoyable and it remains true to the principals of the first film. The Blu-ray release is also similar to the original, in that it offers respectable A/V, but the extras let the side down somewhat. Even so, this is a worthy purchase for fans.
As an aside, what is it about Daniel Larusso anyway? Can't he keep a girl for more than six months? First Ali kicks him to the curb, and in the next film we learn that Kimiko dumps his arse. Poor sod.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Chris Gould
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 19th July 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Italian, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Blu-Pop, Featurette, Trailers, BD-Live
Easter Egg: No
Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Martin Kove
Length: 113 minutes
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