Never seen the original Karate Kid; today it's raining and miserable and I don't feel like trekking through the bullshit (and Puerto Rico Day!) to get to Winter's Bone. So retraoctive nostalgia, today you're my bitch (or, more accurately, I'm yours). Let's do this. For the record, I've never seen Rocky or any of John G. Avildsen's other fine films; I did, as a kid, inexplicably read the novelization of The Karate Kid Part II a number of times, and I also saw The Next Karate Kid, which even as an eight-year-old I knew was dreadful. So that's my background. Let's do this.
0:37: "Newark, New Jersey - September." Not the most prepossessing opening, is it?
1:57: I find it difficult to believe any sane person would object to leaving Newark and moving elsewhere — especially California, I mean c'mon. Those opening shots are depressing.
2:53: I guess it's kind of bold to start with the road trip move itself rather than setting up home, the leaving, the trauma, etc. However: Bill Conti's blaring Copland trumpets are way too overstated, the landscape is scrubby and uninspiring and how the hell did they move their entire lives in one car? Are they dead broke or what?
3:46:: Ah, palm trees. So I take it we're in California now.
4:57: I don't want to be mean or anything, but Daniel's mom seems like a real weirdo. That Noo Yawk accent is way over the top. Actually, I have to take that back: Wikipedia says Randee Heller really was from Brooklyn, and also played Rizzo in Grease on Broadway, which actually makes a lot of sense. Meanwhile, Macchio's bitching about how he enjoys New York winters. Miserable bastard.
6:28: I dig the neighbor kid Freddy; he seems nice enough. When you get Macchio to talk, his macho posturing about how he can kick ass with karate is actually kind of realistic and endearing. First thing that's rung true so far.
7:49: This whole "New Jerseyites in exile and pining for a return home" thing is kind of hilarious. Macchio's relationship with his mom is honestly kind of sweet. This is starting to pick up.
8:30: Miyagi already introduced, which is efficiency. Downside: he just caught a fly with some chopsticks. Is this movie consistently heavy on the stereotypes, or just sporadically?
9:32: That's one dirty fucking beach. (Which is consistent with my experience of LA, admittedly.) The Jan & Dean song is kind of fun though.
10:20: At the end of the beach scene, the slo-mo dissolve out is one of those after-the-fact slowdowns. The effect is oddly Wong Kar-Wai.
11:32: William Zabka has arrived. This shit just turned into The Wild Bunch. Too bad, it was actually kind of authentic-seeming for a bit.
14:33: I mean, Daniel definitely just got his ass handed to him on a platter and that's humiliating, but for the kids to just walk away from him seems a little mean. We all have our off nights, no? And It's not like they were doing anything.
15:55: So Daniel's wearing sunglasses (inside, at breakfast) to cover up the black eyes from the fight. His mom demands he take them off: "Are you on something? What are you hiding?" Nancy Reagan's America for sure, even though he tries to banter his way out of it.
17:07: Daniel's new high school has a plaque from the Native Sons of the Golden West. I.e., these guys. From their website: "as was normative for many of its counterpart organizations in times gone by, for a number of decades, the Native Sons was heavily dominated by a tone of Anglo-Saxon Americanism that included some exclusionary membership policies. As time has progressed, those policies have long since been succeeded by forward-looking, all-embracing ones. So today, the Native Sons membership encompasses people from all ethnic segments that characterize the richly diverse general population of California." Grand.
18:16: Despite the fact that Elizabeth Shue obviously wants to bang him, Macchio still can't get any respect. What the hell.
19:43: Jeez, Shue's a cheerleader? I guess this is back when those could be protagonists without being mocked. Not anymore though, right?
21:54:: He pays for her public school lunch! How chivalrous.
23:31: Pretty much the first thing we learn about Kreese is that he's a Vietnam vet, which a) explains why he's a psychopath b) why Zabka's an asshole. That's some serious shorthand and stereotype-mongering right there. Does Big Hollywood know about this?
25:29: Macchio soliloquizing to himself about Elizabeth Shue ("I think she's beautiful") while chewing brocolli is some bizarre pint-size would-be Brando bullshit.
31:49: Dude, I would not trust this kid with my bonsai tree. Not at all.
34:07: This is basically just the generically "Asian" version of a Magical Negro. Daniel's mom works at a restaurant called Oriental Express, no less.
36:20: He comes to the school costume dance hiding in an ad hoc shower stall? Really?
38:50: Things that don't happen in PG movies anymore: a kid rolling a joint in a bathroom stall.
42:14: Less than convinced by Miyagi's prowess. His kicks seem too soft to really connect.
55:52: Finally got to "wan on, wax off." This is going real slow; aside from visiting the dojo, not a whole hell of a lot has happened. And even that was surprisingly anemic.
58:53: Seeing Macchio with Shue, one of Johnny's crew yells "Must be Take A Worm For A Walk week." Heh.
1:02:58: First at the Golf 'n Stuff Family Fun Center. Lord save us. Shue's parents are such stereotypical rich assholes, sneering at Macchio's location and fresh from the tennis court. At that rate, why is Shue even enrolled in public school? Surely they can afford better.
1:03:44: She has to teach him putt-putt golf technique? She has to hold him? Will Macchio's total emasculation never end?
1:09:20: "Man who capture fly with chopsticks accomplish anything." I'm not sure this is actually true.
1:17:40: No one warned me about Miyagi's terrifying bellow.