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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Christ, Morita, Just Say NO

Just watched the last half of a good candidate for Worst Movie Ever. "The Next Karate Kid," with a toothy young Hilary Swank doing a lot of crotchy walking and hambone squirrely acting. I mean, it's exactly the sort of movie one wants and expects out of the CW on a Sunday afternoon, so I can only express my gratitude for the following lessons:

As a rule, the greatest wisdom comes instantly, after no experience, no suffering, and only minimal contact with Pat Morita.

The more of an old Asian man you are, the more you radiate unearthly peace and power.

If you rub your hands together, you can heal any wound with the warmth generated.

As far as I could tell, the movie was written by a committee of 4th graders who were asked to raise their hands whenever they thought of a heartwarming cliche or a scary high-school threat.

Highlights include:

Swank gets in trouble for killing a roach in the monastery, thus pissing on all life's sacredness. later, she finds a praying mantis in a field and all is forgiven. As bonus wisdom, Pat Morita tells her that mantises touch one knee to the ground before striking, so she tries it and explodes with radical new power. She can now kick while jumping in slow motion... and with great wisdom.

Monks swing burlap sacks of grain to hit a teen girl unawares: on the third try, Morita tells her to focus, and she attains a sort of sixth sense for unseen attacks.

Pat Morita and the other "Karate Monks" drive to a bowling alley in a VW bus and end up beating the pants off a cocky bowling team whose captain wagers a dollar per point and makes fun of the monks. Using unorthodox bowling styles, the monks reap many strikes. The other guys, who are serious enough about bowling to have their own shirts, bowl terribly and end up having to pay like 300 dollars to the monks, who accept the money with great wisdom. How did they do it? "Bowling zen."

Swank and her boyfriend go to a high-school dance after Pat Morita buys her a perfect-fitting dress even though there's no way he would know her size. He also tricks her into learning to dance by showing her karate moves that emulate a waltz. She is very pleased to find that she is now a natural at romantic dancing.

In the middle of the dance, paramilitary teens careen down from the ceiling on cables and smash the decorations, apparently just to show Swank's boyfriend that he mustn't have any fun and he'll never know peace until they grow tired of challenging him in public. They walk off with great lack of wisdom.

A mean paramilitary teen throws sand in Swanky's eyes during their fight. The tide turns against her, until Morita says FOCUS, and she regains her sixth sense by putting her hands together, thus sensing the impending kick. She swats her opponent away with great wisdom.

A near-slow-mo fight finale between Pat Morita and Michael Ironside that proves 1) good triumphs over evil no matter how old, 2) no one involved in the production knows any martial arts, 3) freak-out paramilitary teens who just torched your car and gang-beat your boyfriend will see the error of their ways when a small Asian man defeats their mentor in mild combat, and 4) the best way to end a fight is with humorous mercy--in this case, blowing lightly in the face of Michael Ironside instead of gouging his eyes out.

Unlike other Hilary Swank movies, we luckily never see her bush.

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