Live or Die Man
Japanese culture began making in-roads to through 1980s America, and by Karate Kid Part II, the likes of Nintendo were streaming into the cultural consciousness. Thus, this sequel, which while at times forced, predictable, and routine, makes concerted effort to portray the Japanese as desperate to hold on to their nation’s past.
Importantly, Karate Kid Part II isn’t pro-Japanese. Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) sorrowfully states early, after remembering the number of soldiers lost during World War II, “Why are we all so stupid?” It’s a film that’s anti-conflict of any kind, in synergy with Miyagi’s teachings, and karate’s non-violent ambition.
Karate Kid Part II gives Miyagi reason and purpose
Karate Kid Part II gives Miyagi reason and purpose
Karate Kid Part II, however, is critical of the American capitalist ideal, and how that influence squashed traditional Japanese lifestyles. Arriving in Okinawa (rapidly dismissing key characters from Karate Kid off-screen to do so), Miyagi and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) are greeted not by islanders, but American military still holding control decades after the conflict. Okinawa lost much of its identity during WWII because of its strategic location; those anxieties remain in this story.
Miyagi’s village is no longer free property, and instead owned by a ruthless landlord who seeks only to profit. Most people in Karate Kid Part II wear traditional kimonos and other local dress; landlord Sato (Danny Kamekona) takes the westernized approach, more frequently seen in high-dollar business suits as he bulldozes his former home out of spite.
In its weakest moments, Karate Kid Part II deals in, well, karate. Myagi and Sato bicker over a decades long disdain for one another, unknowingly predicting the same entertaining idiocy that now propels TV’s Cobra Kai. Daniel’s opposition is another spiteful alpha male, Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), leading to an overly theatrical climax where Daniel must fight for a girl as the townspeople cheer him on, seeing Daniel as a keeper of their culture. It’s absurd, especially after the preceding nuanced drama.
Conflict sells though. People pay to see Daniel overcome adversity, even though Karate Kid Part II is more about Miyagi’s history, deepening his character beyond a friendly, charming, and elderly Asian archetype. Karate Kid Part II gives Miyagi reason and purpose. He’s mournful of his country’s mistakes, and equally proud of what still remains. Home is everything to him, and sharing what’s left of that place with other people drives this sequel.
Another Sony standout, Karate Kid Part II looks splendid on UHD, and is clearly sourced from a true 4K scan. The sharpness looks spectacular, every image precisely defined. Texture sticks out, often flawless, picking up facial detail and expertly defining wide shots. Encoding endures a few rough spots. Grain can falter and turn into chroma noise, at times notably noisy, robbing the organic film-like aesthetic.
Part of the issue might be color saturation, especially reds. Not that it’s overdone, so much as the boldness in flesh tones and primaries invites problems like the noise. In Dolby Vision, the palette looks sublime, pure, and intense. A slight push toward warmth appears a bit digitally graded, but inoffensively so.
Boosted contrast livens up the Japanese scenery, and overall brightness excels. Peaks hit wonderful highs, while the black levels regularly dip into the heaviest shadows, preserving detail as they do. Dimensionality make significant gains over the prior Blu-ray; image density is worth the price alone.
Jumping into Atmos, the wide soundstage is active and constant. There’s persistent ambient energy, whether it’s insects chirping, at a crowded airport, or the village environment spilling into each channel. Little touches expand things too, like a fly buzzing as Miyagi tries to catch it, swaying between the stereos. At the air base, helicopter rotors swirl. When the storm rolls in, winds begin their journey through the rears, and also filling the heights, a stellar use of the enhanced Atmos effects.
Surprising extensions into the low-end produce hefty, natural, and tight bass. Much of that stems from the score, but action scenes have their moments too. Punches land with slight force, just enough to notice and accentuate the impact. Thunder rattles the whole room at its deepest points; that’s spectacular.
Sony splits the bonuses between the UHD on Blu-ray. The former includes a commentary from Ralph Macchio and Tamlyn Tomita. A deleted scene and trailer are next. On the Blu-ray, there’s a pop-up trivia track and vintage EPK featurette.
The Karate Kid Part II
Steeped in post-WWII anxieties, Karate Kid Part II involves a deep anti-war philosophy while bemoaning the westernized takeover of Japanese culture as it expands the series’ characters.
User Review( vote)
The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 48 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: