John G. Avildsen did a tremendous job of directing "Rocky," only to watch Sylvester Stallone make zillions of dollars out of a series of sequels, so you can imagine him sitting and scratching his head and saying, "Why not me?"
The result is "The Karate Kid Part II." It's hard to imagine a movie with more complete closure than Avildsen's original "Karate Kid," in which Daniel (Ralph Macchio), under the tutelage of Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita), delivered a karate comeuppance to a gang of bullies, so there's no point to reviving the story, except to exploit a trademark. In which case the filmmakers would be better off selling hamburgers, autographed golf clubs, or underwear. Cinema as Fruit of the Loom.
Or, as they'd say in "Karate Kid II," "Floot of the Room," for rarely has a movie been so clotted with pidgin English masquerading as authenticity. In the hands of screen writer Robert Mark Kamen, "Karate Kid II" becomes a parade of bogus homilies -- "Sometimes what heart know, head forget" -- all delivered in cadences so august as to border on the Confucian.
What, you want to know what the story is? Ah, the story. Let me check my notes. Oh yes: Miyagi receives word from Okinawa that his father is dying. He hasn't been back since before the war, when he lost his girl to his best friend, Sato (Danny Kamekona, a hilariously brutish scenery-chewer), in an arranged marriage.
Since then, Sato has become a tyrannical capitalist who destroyed the local fishing industry, bought all the land in the village and sold the people's religious artifacts to museums. He also runs a karate school filled with bullies who pop up regularly to beat the stuffings out of Daniel.
Miyagi falls sw,-1 sk,1 in love anew with his old flame. Daniel finds a new flame, a village girl who yearns to be a dancer.
*"Karate Kid II" doesn't give us any emotional movement in Daniel's character, or Miyagi's, or their relationship, either -- it just recapitulates them. The only character who changes in the story, in fact, is Sato, whom you couldn't care a fried fig about.
This is thin stuff indeed, and Kamen pads it frantically with travelogue material, digressions on indigenous Japanese customs, and potted history and statistics. We learn, for example, just how many men died in the battle for Okinawa, which leads Miyagi to question sagely, "Why we all so stupid?"