Thursday, June 10, 2010

If I Wrote It: The Karate Kid Part III

With the remake of The Karate Kid about to hit screens across North America tomorrow, I've noticed that a lot of cable stations are showing the original movies in the trilogy along with the appalling The Next Karate Kid. This has given me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with them, and after seeing them together, I've come to a conclusion: I could have written a better version of the third movie.

I hadn't seen the second film in the series for a long time, so I had forgotten that the final fight in the movie was a battle to the death, and that Chozen had tried to kill him at other points in that movie. Then we get to the third movie and we ended up back with Daniel being pressured to fight in a tournament again. I mean, he just fought a battle that would have ended up with his death if he lost, and after that, even if it is months later, the idea that the tournament is going to dominate his life again, it seems sort of silly and trivial in comparison.

In fact, the way the third movie exists now, it is as if the second movie never really took place.

The basic plot of The Karate Kid Part III revolves around the machinations of John Kreese and his old war buddy, Terry Silver, and their efforts to get Daniel to compete in the next All Valley Tournament against their ringer, Mike Barnes. Mr. Miyagi, while being committed to teaching Daniel karate and other lessons, refused to train Daniel for the tournament until Silver/Kreese's plan was revealed. And then, tack on the ending of the first movie. I think that covers it.

The thing that bothered me the most in the third part based on the events of the second film is the fact that Mr. Miyagi returned to America. The only reason he was going to leave Okinawa was he was avoiding a conflict with his old friend and now enemy Sato, a matter which was resolved by the end of the film, and the romance that had reawakened between himself and the woman he loved in the past was just starting to heat up. She had even wanted to leave with him. But she doesn't. I thought that was just mind boggling. It is, as I stated early, like none of that even happened. And it was an important romance because it was even brought up in the first movie.

The essential narrative message that I got from the first two movies in the series was that Daniel was not only being schooled in karate by Mr. Miyagi, but also the art of becoming an honorable man. I think that should have been the focus of the third movie... the final fulfillment of that training.

So, if I wrote The Karate Kid, Part III, here's how it would have gone. Some of the elements are similar to the movie, but for the most part, the movie I had in mind is a huge departure from the real finished product.

Miyagi, having some affairs to put in order regarding his father's death, a burgeoning romance with Yukie and the rebuilding of the village, decides to wait to return to America. He entrusts Daniel to look after his property in the States, a duty which he gladly accepts.

Upon his return to America, Daniel enrolls in a local college and discovers that his newly found discipline has also helped him academically. He continues to learn karate on his own.

However, a chance meeting with Johnny Lawrence ends up leading to a friendship between the two former adversaries. They agree to periodically spar and push each other to be better, and the differences in styles make each a more rounded and disciplined fighter, and Johnny learns the moral secrets of Miyagi-do karate, casting the anger and merciless nature of the lessons learned at Cobra Kai from his mind.

There would be a series of flashbacks to interludes of Miyagi teaching Daniel techniques and life lessons from the year before (new scenes shot for the movie).

Meanwhile, John Kreese, who had lost all his current students because of his outrageous behavior following the tournament, plots his revenge. He calls upon some of his former students to try to help him exact retribution upon Miyagi and Daniel.

These students attack Miyagi's property and cars, and try to intimidate Daniel, but with Johnny's help, they are able to fight them off. Neither of them know that the assailants are working under Kreese's orders, but they have a feeling that whatever has happened is just the first of many incidents.

It is after a particularly brutal attack on the property, one which leaves part of Miyagi's home a charred wreck that, Miyagi happens to return home for a visit. It is at this point that one of Kreese's former students reveals his allegiance, and Johnny, Daniel and Miyagi go to the Cobra Kai dojo to confront Kreese and his former students.

When they arrive, the three of them battle Kreese's former students, and in the ensuing battle, Johnny is unfortunately knocked out, but Miyagi and Daniel succeed in defeating the students so that only Kreese remains.

Miyagi approaches, but Daniel stops him from interfering, claiming that this was his fight, a decision which his mentor respects, though he is still apprehensive.

Daniel fights purely for defense, while Kreese is fighting out anger, and Kreese gets some good shots in, but he continues to keep Miyagi back, and by fighting smarter, he eventually overcomes the strength of the Cobra Kai sensei, but as an honorable man, he shows mercy, which Kreese declares is weakness. Daniel argues that showing mercy is strength because while it is easy to destroy an enemy, but it is harder to forgive their trespasses. Miyagi is proud of Daniel. Johnny, Daniel and Miyagi leave Kreese a broken man, one who as Miyagi had stated at the beginning of the second film, was a man without forgiveness in his heart.

The coda of the movie is Mr. Miyagi's wedding to Yukie on Okinawa the following summer, with Sato giving her away and Daniel as Miyagi's best man.

If you saw The Karate Kid, Part III, would you not agree that this would have been a more satisfying narrative?


Pat Tillett said...

Out of loyalty to the orignal, I won't be seeing the remake.
Have you seen the video with Ralph Macchio that just came out? It's called "Wax on, F*** off." It's pretty darn funny.

Peter Lynn said...

I like this plotline a lot. Too bad Pat Morita is dead, or it could still be made. I'd still kind of like to see a "Karate Kid: 20 Years Later" following a similar plotline with an aged Macchio and Zabka, kind of in the same vein as "Rocky Balboa".

MC said...

Pat: That was hilarious Pat. Certainly a keeper.

Peter: Maybe with their kids?