A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that martial-arts violence and revenge contend with worthy themes of mercy, forgiveness and Japanese culture. Despite lip service to non-violence, the action shows fighting as the ultimate solution to problems, so kids will see lots of threatening behavior, severe karate beatings, and retribution.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
High-schooler Danny (Ralph Macchio), a California karate champ thanks to the guidance of handyman Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita), accompanies his mentor back to Okinawa, Japan. Miyagi has been away for 40 years because of a rivalry with former friend Sato, now a mafioso-style businessman. After more than half a lifetime, Sato still demands a lethal karate showdown with the unresponsive Miyagi. Sato sends bully nephew Chozen to torment Danny and Danny's instant Japanese girlfriend Kumiko. Finally Miyagi agrees to the duel. When a monsoon strikes, Miyagi ends up using karate skills to save Sato's life instead. The old timers forgive each other, but a hate-crazed Chozen forces Danny into a death match in front of the entire village. Using his lessons from Miyagi, Danny prevails, and spares his opponent's life.
Is it any good?
In this inevitable sequel to the superior The Karate Kid, martial-arts violence and revenge contend with worthy themes of mercy, forgiveness and Japanese culture. It preserves the cross-cultural friendship between the leads, but goes overboard with subplots of vengeance and street fights. When the movie focuses on Danny and Kumiko, it achieves touching, even poetic, moments.
At regular intervals the bestial bad guys loom into sight, drooling over "honor" and their anticipated grudge fights with the two heroes. The action finale especially appeals to audience blood thirst, all the more so for Rocky director John Avildsen's skill with arena mayhem. The ever-serene Miyagi serves as a noble mouthpiece for messages of martial-arts wisdom, mercy and forgiveness. Most kids will see through the plot devices, still, Morita and Macchio, single-fistedly, make their onscreen friendship warm and watchable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why a movie that espouses non-violent solutions is so violent. How does the film maker justify the violent reactions of "good guy" characters? Can you think of other solutions to the predicaments the filmmaker created in order to "force" his characters into violent confrontations?
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