BY JOHN CARTER JR
It is hard being a parent and finding peace when that role is suddenly taken from you and even harder when the chance to be one presents itself once again. Do you accept the responsibility and step back into a role that had previously caused you so much pain? Often as children, we forget or fail to think about our parents in a whole sense. We don’t look at our parents past their chosen roles; however, our parents are whole individuals who, before we came to them, had lives unrelated to us. Who were our parents, what did they desire, and what did they do? In the case of found parenthood, where do our found parents come from and what was their journey that led them to choose us becomes more of interest to a grown-up found child.
The 1980s were filled to the brim with films everyone loves and franchises that still see the new installments to this day. The Karate Kid series is among those franchises. Since the debut of Cobra Kai in 2018, the conversation surrounding this classic ‘80s film franchise has been revitalized. The original series would draw upon references from the original Karate Kid Film. However, the show eventually started to draw upon plotlines, characters, and even environments of other previous entries in the franchise, such as the perfect sequel – 1986’s “The Karate Kid II.”
The film centers around Mr. Miyagi as he journey’s back to Okinawa to see his father before his passing. He decides to take Daniel LaRusso back on his trip. Together, they encounter Chozen Toguchi, his uncle Sato, a dancer named Kumiko, and others. Throughout the film, we see the struggles between Mr. Miyagi and Sato along with Chozen’s struggle with Daniel. We learn of Miyagi’s family, more about the loss of his wife and child, and Miyagi’s childhood. The film’s excellent score, environment, and character costume design are exquisite 80s fashion. Chozen, in particular, is styled to perfection with his villain semi-greaser-like hair and swagger-ful shirts.
The film set itself apart from other entries in the franchise as one of its primary features is a story of growth, development, and resolutions for that of its older cast. Flipping the focus from that of Daniel to Miyagi from the first film helps to make this sequel more perfect. In the original, we learn about finding fathers in moments when we need one. In “The Karate Kid II” it is how our found children can help us move forward from the deep-rooted and old traumas of our past. They do this by giving us hope for the future, hope for change, and act as evidence that something we once thought was lost forever can be found again. Mr. Miyagi may have lost a son but he found one in Daniel. Through his newfound son, he can be brave in resolving the trauma of the past with hopes and convictions for the future.
“The Karate Kid II” is a perfect sequel to the original 1984 John Avildsen classic. It tells the story of the legendary father figure and karate master, Mr. Miyagi. It gives us a deep extension of the themes established in the original film about found parenthood and what that means for the parent rather than the child. It establishes that while we, as aging people, have had deep pains that we have endured throughout life, there will always be hope in the future through the young people we guide and mentor. Our children, through their youthful determination, remind us that we can keep marching against the pains of time with the wisdom to guide them. They even have wisdom to bestow themselves.
I give The Karate Kid II 10/10 ice blocks smashed for its storytelling, world design, and character arcs.