DISSECTING FILMS WITH A BAD REP -- Karate Kid Part III
Lots of Marvel Comics fans were pissed off when Spider-Man 3 came out. Singing, dancing, Mary Jane being a bitch, having to give a damn about Mary Jane and her dumb career of flat singing to begin with, but the marketing around the film was designed to make non-traditional Spiderman fans want to return for the next three...thereby assuring Dark Knight-like profits for the now defunct prospect of the billion-dollar budget that would have been put in place for "Sinister Six" complete with A-list stars. Spiderman 3 was for little kids and their guardians. If you see it in those terms -- Spider-Man 3 was in fact a resounding success.
WHAT?!!!! You might ask.
I make this conclusion because when I was 11 years old and my grandmas were both still alive, I had one of the greatest cinematic experiences of my life. It was the Summer of 89, it had just started, and I went to go see what was at the time the worst reviewed movie ever --
"The Karate Kid Part III".
The most enjoyable of the Karate Kid movies was part 3. Miyagi had two fight scenes instead of just one (or one-and-a-half), and Mike Barnes was a fantastic evolution from Johnny and Chosen. But you HAD HAD HAD to see it as a little kid WITH not just a guardian but the one that your parents didn't like. The "manipulative" one.
After Die Hard and RoboCop and Willie Wonka and all that other stuff that we in the 80s were raised on, every kind of movie would seem old and retread -- except the one where the villain's intentions weren't 100% obvious. Like manipulative grandma.
As we sat in the theatre and Terry Silver went from mean mean mean mean to seemingly beating up Mike Barnes and extending apologies and training Daniel, if you were a little kid you might not completely understand what Terry's doing. My grandma sat right next to me and said "see...now he's gonna pay that guy to pick a fight with him...and Daniel's gonna retaliate by doing something awful..."
Sure enough -- BOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!! Daniel has belted a kid in the face hard enough to get the guy's blood all over Robin Lively's shirt, and she was about 20 feet away from the hit.
Karate Kid Part III had a myriad of problems, but all of it was in the context of providing an entertaining experience for ANYONE. Any age. Regardless of if they had seen it before. Just like Spider-Man 3.
Let's see what Sony didn't learn from Columbia --
1) Daniel gets less and less play as the Karate Kid series moves on. Jessica Andrews, who draws a line in the sand early on, inspires, thus, nothing but jokes. Put out or get out. Robin Lively was hot, and she needed to show us some bra at least. Where in the world is she now? I wanna do her.
2) The movie has the juvenile gall to add all these new rules to the All Valley Under 18 tournament, thereby assuring even a halfway possible scenario in which Daniel can win a) in sudden death and b) without fighting his way through 19 other dudes first.
3) Miyagi leaves Daniel high and dry to train for a tournament by himself when he knows he's got people on his ass, showing up at their flower shop to steal all their stuff and beat him up. He keeps Daniel from signing up for the tournament for as long as it takes for their lives to be completely dismantled, and then continues being a douche. Without this ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE scenario, there would be none of that half-clever manipulation in act two with Terry Silver pretending to be his friend.
4) Daniel freaking SPINS WHILE HE DANCES, marking the second straight Karate Kid sequel where corporate studio heads assume that the only way your nana will enjoy an action movie is by infusing it with song and dance. Sony assumed this was somehow a winning formula when they gave us the third Spiderman.
5) "You know it," says Snake when Terry says that he's THE guy to be "bad" with in all of Los Angeles. Sheesh.
6) What in the world did Daniel say at the end of the damn movie when he's like "Mr. Miyagi...." Does he say "forget fighting?"
7) We've already been to Okinawa where Daniel had to fight to the death. Now anyone's gonna give a crap about essentially a harder version of some piddly karate pageant?
8) If you took out all the action and drama from this 110 minute movie, you'd have 100 minutes left of bonzai store conception, bonzai store execution, leasing, constructing, planning...oh...and a long long lesson in mountain climbing. Jeez.
9) "How many times did you save my ass in 'Nam?" says Terry. Is this the crappiest soldier on earth or what? And how juvenile is that? It's like...yeah man, let me get out my nuclear gun.
10) What a long long long long complicated elaborate plan to get back at some kid and some old man. Why not just pay someone to burn their house and make that horrible yellow vehicle explode when young Daniel turns on the ignition?
11) Exactly what makes Mike Barnes pause when Daniel starts doing Kata?
12) Boy is Daniel a douche in this movie. When he's not strutting like a chicken and making bad jokes, he's singing "VA-VA-VA-voo"
13) Exactly how did Miyagi expect to explain to Daniel's mom how he let Daniel take all HER money and put it in an un-insured bonzai store with no toilets?
14) Budda-Head? What the hell does that mean, Barnes?
15) Jessica's line: "It wasn't you? It wasn't you? Then who was it...Conan the Barbarian?"
17) Go somewhere outside the Valley next time to rebuild your dojo. Somewhere where they haven't heard of you, and you should be fine.
18) At least monks didn't dance to the god damn Cranberries in this one. (See "The Next Karate Kid" for some of the most embarrassing scenes ever in a good movie, keeping up in the tradition...of Karate Kid Part III)