April 12, 2007

Third times a charm...unless your last name is 'Macchio'

For the film purist, nothing is more desirable than a story about young love, teen angst, unbridled passion and young and old learning from one another—except,maybe,a story about karate, pottery, decorative trees and a millionaire industrialist/vietnam hero/martial arts expert/Steven Seagal lookalike. What movie could possibly fulfill this tall-cinematic order, you ask? I will tell you... if you promise to never run off and join a cult-like karate dojo—and never, I mean NEVER use the crane technique for anything but good, and the occasional dance competition. We have an agreement? Very well. The film of which I speak is none other than Karate Kidd part TRÉS. Karate Kid III begins much like Karate Kid II, explaining just what the heck happened to Daniel-san's girlfriend from the previous movie. I think that each KK movie wanted Daniel to have a clean slate, or maybe girls were interfering too much with Larusso's true love—a geriatric Okinawan by the name of Mr. Miyagi. Karate Kid III, no doubt in anticipation of a Karate Kid IV, decided to not get into the whole messy girlfriend business with this one and decided rather to give Daniel a girlfriend with whom there is no chance of romance because she is only in California for the summer and already has a boyfriend. Back to the story...Daniel once again, wisely decides to forego his own future and invests all of his college money on a bonsai tree shop for Miyagi, did I mention that Daniel-san loves Mr. Miyagi? It seemed cute in the first two, but in KKIII, Daniel has a full on crush on the old guy. We soon find out that John Kreese, the sensei from the dreaded Kobra Kai dojo has fallen on hard times, presumably because one of his students lost to Daniel Larusso in the all-valley karate championship. Apparently, Kreese's whole livelihood was destroyed when Larusso won the karate championship from Kreese's star pupil, Johnny...makes sense. Kreese seeks out the help of an old army buddy by the name of Terry Silver to get his life back on track. I should mention now that Terry Silver is probably in the top 5 of all evil people named "Terry" in history—just behind Terry Bradshaw, Terry Hatcher, Terry Dactyl and Terry Bin Laden...I mean, this is one bad dude. Not only is Terry Silver a multimillionaire martial arts expert, but he dumps toxic sludge in developing countries, sports a maniacal ponytail and bathes almost exclusively in large, marble bubble baths. Terry Silver elects to help Kreese out the only way he knows how—by taking Kreese's sworn enemy under his wing to train him for a tournament he was forced to enter...and punch sundry things with his bare knuckles. A small montage of Terry Silver's most diabolical moments are below...please note, these are not for the faint of heart.

As you can see, Silver and Kreese spend a lot of time laughing about their nefarious plans. These plans are as follows:have Daniel-san defend his title against a "ringer" that they have brought in by the name of Mike Barnes. If you haven't heard of karate's bad boy, Mike Barnes, then just where have you been hiding? Mike Barnes is good at one thing and one thing only, roundhouse kicks...and punching women in the stomach...and breaking bonsai trees in half...and having a flat top. Okay, Mike Barnes is good at a LOT of stuff and they all involve being a bad boy. The problem here is that Daniel will not sign up to defend his title, much to the chagrin of Mike Barnes. Barnes is quite persistent in his attempts to get Larusso to pony up and eventually gets him to sign on the dotted line (and all it took was three beatings and dangling Daniel over a cliff). The fight is on! Daniel gets wise to Silver's deceit and finally gets Miyagi to teach him some "good" karate, but not before Miyagi gives the Kobra Kais the slowest beating of their lives. Building toward the climax, do I really need to tell you what happens?! Larusso retains the title (against all odds) by using Miyagi's "kata" technique, which resembles a slow and deliberate yoga session, remains good friends with his female companion and asks Mr. Miyagi if he'll marry him.

Karate Kid III lacks the punch (no, PUN INTENDED) of the first two. Too many speeches, too few groin kicks...too many pottery montages, too few Peter Cetera songs. You get the idea; Karate Kid III, while necessary to complete the greatest film trilogy ever devised, was just not as cool as I remember. I'd love to champion some of its finer moments, but like a true visionary once said "the enemy deserves NO mercy."


Anonymous said...

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