The Karate Kid is not the best film ever made, but it does hold a soft spot in my heart. Yes it, and its two sequels, are formulaic coming of age movies, and Ralph Macchio is clearly about forty by the time Part III turned up: but who can hate fence painting and kung fu? And at the heart of the films sat Morita’s Mr Miyagi, the eighties second favourite mentor figure (after Yoda). It did not end there even. The Next Karate Kid was a bit of a pointless addition to a series which had already overextended itself. Also having seen Maggie Cheung, Josephine Yau and Michelle Yeoh kick arse in Hong Kong movies, the gender twist of The Next Karate Kid is barely groundbreaking. But Morita equips himself well and the film is notable for co-starring a double Oscar winning actress as Kid II: Hilary Swank.
And I think Morita would be happy with his legacy, having sadly died in 2005. Except that just before he died, he made another film which played on the Karate Kid legacy, and pissed on it from a great height (one imagines). The Karate Dog. Luckily Morita does not play Miyagi, though one assumes his character Chin Li is full of inscrutable wisdom of the Orient*. This made for TV movie fits more in the mould of the sports animal films such as the Air Bud movies**. And as such, somewhere along the line someone though a poorly CGI’d kung fu dog was not enough. It needed to talk too. With Chevy Chase’s voice***.
Pat. I’ll remember you for the Karate Kids. Not the Dog. But if you want to remember the Dog: you can watch a trailer here on Youtube.
*Not just hoofing the ball up to the big lad.
**A series now incredibly up to six movies:
Air Bud: Basketball
Air Bud 2: Golden Receiver (American Football)
Air Bud 3: World Pup (Soccer)
Air Bud: Seventh Innings Fetch (Baseball)
Air Bud: Spikes Back (Volleyball!)
Air Buddies (No sport specified)
***Not Chevy’s first doggie voice-over. How can we forget O Heavenly Dog where he dies and comes back as Benji?