In preparation for his summer movie showdown last month, Aram had trained for weeks on end. He’s visited every local waterfall to train under, sparred with burning logs and smouldering bbq pits, and reached out to his closest confidants about their secret takes on Karate Kid II. In this episode, Aram shares with Backstory podcast the conversations he’s had with his friends and loved ones about their shared nostalgia and memories of Karate Kid II.
Content Warning: mild swearing
Follow the link here for an extended show note and episode transcript: http://bit.ly/ep6b-shownote
This episode uses the following multimedia samples and sources:
- “Main Title”, The Karate Kid Part II – Original Score, by Bill Conti
- “Honor Very Serious”, The Karate Kid Part II – Original Score, by Bill Conti
- “Daniel’s Triumph”, The Karate Kid Part II – Original Score, by Bill Conti
Please note below transcription was made using speech recognition software, and as such may contain inaccuracies, misspellings, or errors.
Jason Shiga 0:12
Hi, welcome to Backstory, podcast from Reel Asian Film Festival, where we go behind the scenes share stories about movies from the Asian diaspora. When we started this podcast, I knew I wanted to talk about the movie, Karate Kid part two. And somehow I kept bringing it up in a lot of meetings with Kelly in some way. So we were finally able to talk about it in our last episode, but I knew there were more stories out there, family and friends that I talked to him. So I asked my sister, we talked about the time when we first saw her husband Jason joined in and offered a surprising perspective. I also caught up my old friend to dashi, and finally I talked to my partner grace who was little reluctant to share her story, but I’m glad she did. So Here are those conversations.
Alina Collier 1:13
Okay, so should I just go?
Aram Collier 1:15
Alina Collier 1:15
So my name is Alina and I saw Karate Kid part two, in a movie theater in Taos, New Mexico. I don’t live in Taos, New Mexico, but my dad’s from there and we spent every summer there. And I really remember it being the first time where our parents dropped us off at the movie theater, and then drove away. Sir, I remember being like a really big deal. Also, it was the first time that this town had a like inside movie theater before then it was just a drive in. So it was like a big deal to see. Credit hit Part Two in a theater in this town. At this moment in time, and it was it was a it was kind of a weird experience. I mean, I love this movie when it came out. It was. Yeah, I yeah. I love this movie when it came out. Yeah,
Jason Shiga 2:13
no, you know, I’d forgotten about that. That movie theater. Yeah, that like they only had driving before and that and I had forgotten that that was the first time we Yeah, that was a movie.
Alina Collier 2:26
You me and Laura got dropped off and mom and dad had never dropped us off at a movie before. And for some, whatever. I think it’s because they didn’t want to see this movie at all.
Aram Collier 2:39
Alina Collier 2:39
Yeah. I think they were just opposed. Morally opposed to seeing this movie, but we were so hell bent on seeing this movie that that they had to drop us off. Because, you know, they dragged us out to the desert for the whole
Jason Shiga 2:52
summer. You know, they missed out on a, you know, cultural like Asian American cultural touchstone you know?
Alina Collier 2:59
They totally did. I mean, although Can you imagine like mom and dad just tearing apart this movie after after we saw it like had they gone in with us? Like they just would have been like, halfway through the movie?
Jason Shiga 3:14
I don’t know Monica says some pretty shitty movies she did back home. So I remember I’d be like, hey, let’s just eat dinner at the movie theater. Just eat a hotdog. Okay. Cool.
Alina Collier 3:30
Now, I remember with with Karate Kid, part two, it was one of the first times you saw one of the very few times, like I remember in the 80s. If you saw an Asian person on TV, like in a commercial, it was like a big deal, right? And so to see a whole movie of Asians was like, it was like, really awesome and also very strange because you’re like, what’s going on? There’s so many Yeah,
Jason Shiga 4:00
and you know, since talking to each other
Unknown Speaker 4:02
Jason Shiga 4:04
I mean, it’s, uh, you know, if you if you were to like, there’s like the Bechtel test, right? Like, yes. You know, the two women characters talking to each other and not about a man, you know, like if you like an American movie with Asian people who are talking to each other, you know like that. Yeah, that’s like kind of incredible.
Alina Collier 4:23
Yeah, except the Bechdel Test for that would be two Asians talking to each other, but not about honor. or saving.
Unknown Speaker 4:30
Aram Collier 4:31
This movie doesn’t have
Unknown Speaker 4:38
Jason Shiga 4:40
All right. Well, all right. And and I asked her the perfect person because you had watched it recently.
Alina Collier 4:48
Dude, you could Yeah, that movie. Yeah, I don’t know if you want to if you want to have it kind of stayed like that perfect movie in your head.
Jason Shiga 4:58
To watch it again. No, I know it’s not a perfect movie so I yeah.
Alina Collier 5:03
But like but like me, you know, whatever my 10 year old self my 12 year old self like Oh, I love that movie.
Aram Collier 5:09
Okay, all right. She Is she good? There he is. So don’t don’t stop. Yeah, just just go green and then he Okay, hold on, I think
Jason Shiga 5:29
so we are doing a episode about summer movies. So I also wanted to bring in some experts call a friend. Like in the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire style.
Yeah. And who apparently had watched it recently which is amazing. I don’t know if you watched it with her but
I had to tap out after the first 10 minutes.
Okay, so you so Okay, you’ve seen it, but why? Why after the 10 first 10 minutes?
I’m a fan. Not a fan of the movie. After be honest, I’m got a lead gotta get you out
Aram Collier 6:12
you are not gonna strengthen my case at all.
Jason Shiga 6:15
Yeah, well actually First off, maybe I should introduce myself to the to the listeners. Okay. My name is Jason Shiga. I am Elena’s husband.
And I’m also a
Aram Collier 6:31
Aram’s brother in law,
Jason Shiga 6:32
Aaron’s brother in law. I’m also working cartoonist. I’ve been making comics for about 20 years now. And I’m also a big movie fan. Just Unfortunately, not. Not a karate kid part two. But I loved the first one. I thought the first one is great. But I guess they kind of they’ve kind of figured it out now. But I feel there is. There’s that era in the late 80s, early 90s where they were still trying to figure out how to do sequels, but they there just weren’t any good sequels. Back Back in those days I feel. What are you talking about? Father Part two is good, but
Aram Collier 7:29
Empire Strikes Back.
Jason Shiga 7:31
Okay. There were a couple gets rowdy kid part two.
I think that’s a
Aram Collier 7:39
long list. But Superman to Superman. Okay. Oh, class of con. subtract two.
Unknown Speaker 7:49
Unknown Speaker 7:54
Unknown Speaker 7:56
Oh, okay. Go on with your with flawed observations.
Jason Shiga 8:03
But it’s not I mean, it’s not it’s not like now we’re they’re they’re actually investing a lot into, you know, quality control rather than, you know, just making money grabs and like they did back in the day, you know, trying to you know, capitalize on people’s, you know, fondness for the first one.
Yeah, like, I mean, Rise of Skywalker was amazing like, trilogy. They really know how to do sequels now. Okay, well,
of course, of course, he can point to individual examples.
Aram Collier 8:34
These are outliers, all kinds of outliers. Outliers that form a pattern, it seems.
Jason Shiga 8:44
Okay, maybe Yeah, maybe maybe my theory maybe my theory is bogus. But um, but whatever the general trend, I would say, Karate Kid Part Two falls into the category of there. They’re not really sure Trying to do I feel they’re not trying to do anything new or take the series in a new direction. But just kind of you know, kept kept capitalize on you know, old you know the the fondness we had for the you know for the original characters. But yeah just I don’t know it didn’t I I would disagree with you on that.
And the reason is, is that this movie actually did do something new in that it told you Miyagi story like you didn’t know who he was like he’s just as Yoda in the first movie. And then and then in this movie, it’s like, oh, he had a life back in okay now and like he had this best friend. And he had this the love of his life and he gave it up because he couldn’t like deal with the dishonor or whatever.
Unknown Speaker 9:54
Unknown Speaker 9:58
me Yeah, I guess did you prepare for
Unknown Speaker 10:00
There’s at all
Jason Shiga 10:03
okay, it’s something it’s something new.
Unknown Speaker 10:08
Jason Shiga 10:10
so, um, well actually, okay, so there’s after say there’s there is one kind of interesting aspect of the movie that I kind of picked up on the other night when, you know, when I was watching 10 minutes of it which is it kind of relates to my own personal story. My father, he
he kind of left Japan disgraced, like, Mr. Miyagi. And later in his life, we tried to get him to go back to Japan, and he wouldn’t do it but My father was the oldest son. So it was his basically his job to kind of, you know, stay and take care of the parents. But and he, you know, he actually, you know, settled down in his hometown and he had a wife and he had a kid.
But then he took off to walk the earth. And I guess he’d left his wife, he left this kid, his second oldest brother had to kind of step step in and fulfill the role of, you know, taking care of his parents. And yeah, I guess it was, it was a big family drama. I guess my father siblings, didn’t talk to him for a long time. And I remember Kasha I think I was a teenager.
My dad just got a letter from his brother and said, at my dad’s mom had died. And they already had the funeral and he wasn’t invited. So there’s Yeah.
It’s a watching it now as an adult, there’s, yeah, there’s, there’s, there’s more of a kind of a personal connection. And I can see that, you know, I wasn’t really tuned into when I was a kid. Mm hmm.
Well, that’s the direction I didn’t expect. No thanks for sharing that. You know, it’s not to you know, coerce you into telling a good story about Karate Kid part two, but that that is a good story.
Oh, but yeah
Unknown Speaker 13:18
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I still don’t like it.
Jason Shiga 13:22
said the other day Don’t Don’t yuck someone else’s yum. So, you know, I’m gonna I’m gonna focus on the positive here. Hello?
Tadashi Nakamura 13:41
Yeah, we’re recording more voiceover I’ve been like, more conscious of like, your mouth sounds dry.
Jason Shiga 13:50
Uh, you know, I don’t want to keep you too long but, but I know. I mean one of the reasons why I thought of this in the first place was because the a couple years ago when I was visiting you We talked about this because I think that was just when Cobra Kai came out. And right. And we had a discussion about it. And that was also I was 28 teen. So Cobra Kai had come out, which is like the reboot. And then we were talking about what the film meant to us. And so, you met you, you joked that this is our Black Panther. Yeah, you know, which is I think it’s such a like apt comparison, you know, which is which is Yeah, it’s it’s, it’s on point and sad at the same time. You know, time in place, right. Like, we we, we took what we could get, you know, yeah,
Tadashi Nakamura 14:42
yeah. So my name is Tad Nakamura, and I was six years old when Karate Kid two came out. And I actually don’t remember the first time I watched it, which is weird. So I don’t remember I’m sure it was theater. But I just watched it so many times that kind of, there’s not like a moment where I remember watching, I just totally watch the film all the time. But I think for me, I think what a lot of people might not understand now is that, you know, Karate Kid one was such a huge mainstream success, like it was like, the film, right? And I think so there’s all this anticipation for Karate Kid part two. And then for me personally, you know, I kind of grew up in this both my parents are filmmakers. So I grew up in this kind of Asian American community independent film world la film world, and which was never will you know, it was something totally different than the Hollywood, you know, film scene or any films that me and my friends really watched. But Karate Kid two was like the merge of those two worlds so I felt like super cool and super special because like, it was this big Hollywood film that like all my friends at school and like summer camp were waiting for. And then I had like people that I you know, my parents friends were in the film. Pat Morita was in one of my dad’s films, right he was in Quito hot to raise the banner. And so, you know, the fact that someone in my dad’s film was in Karate Kid, part two and karate kid that all of a sudden legitimize my dad as a film. Oh, you had Mr. Miyagi in your film? Okay, you’re you’re legit like you. You make real films. And yeah, and so again, having just, not only were they Asian American, but they’re actually like from the community. thought that was super cool. So I had this kind of personal Next to it, which kind of, you know, probably one of my favorite scenes is that oh bonds in at the end because that’s when they really utilize Well, for example, like the Tyco group was pinata Tyco, which is the type of group from Saint Jean Buddhist temple, which is my family’s temple. So, you know, all my aunties and uncles who were in that group, like we’re the background in extras in that scene. And which I think, thinking about too was I was as a kid, I was very confused, I think, because even though the film took place in Japan, I had never been to Japan. I think they shot a lot of it in Hawaii. Yeah. And I had been to Hawaii. So in my mind, the film took place in in Hawaii. So it was kind of confusing. As a kid, I had no reference to Japan, but there’s total reference to Hawaii. And I remember to like, for the first time so I was In Hawaii as a kid, and like there’s a big storm, um, you know, it was kind of during the day and all sudden it was windy and it started raining. And I immediately thought of that. The ringing the bell scene. Yeah.
Aram Collier 18:14
Where’s the bell? I gotta ring it. Yeah, I’m gonna warn the village.
Unknown Speaker 18:17
Jason Shiga 18:19
I was looking at me. He was watching it last night. I was like, oh, when I was a kid, he seems so old. Now. He looks pretty good. And then I looked it up. It was like, I was like, he’s only 54 when this movie came out. Yeah. Like that’s crazy to me. Or, you know, he seems like a grandfather. And it’s like, No, he’s, he’s like, not that much older than me. I mean, scary. So, you know, I don’t know. tamlyn Tomita is pretty cute in this movie. Well, then I don’t know if that’s okay to say as an old person, but I know I thought that back then, too.
Tadashi Nakamura 19:00
Know that it’s I don’t know, like as a kid that was was that I was gonna jump into because of course I didn’t wasn’t conscious of it. But I think a real big thing for me was this concept of masculinity that that film gave me. Right because even it’s like so you know, of course everyone has a kid still relates to projects themselves as Daniel right in the film in the first one in the second one so like, you know, in the first one, he gets like, the super cute popular white girl, right, which is like, part of me was like, yeah, that’s awesome. But then I think the second one was the fact that all of a sudden all the alpha males, you know, all the bad guys. All the bullies all the but also to all the love interests are are Asian American or specifically Japanese. So yeah, for sure. Like, I mean, tamlyn Tomita was I think, everyone You know, it’s been said all the time, like everyone had a crush on her. And yeah, and then you know and to for Japanese American kid who doesn’t know shit about Japanese culture, like I was into it like the tea ceremony. Like I knew what a tea ceremony was, I was like, oh man, like, the hair in the face shot you know, I mean, like,
Unknown Speaker 20:24
I hope I get to do
Tadashi Nakamura 20:28
exactly. But also to the I actually don’t think I ever knew the guy. What’s his name? His character was chosen the you know the bad guy. Yeah. When he something about a tomato. So basically when he takes off his shirt, yeah. Adam and like here, you know, take mine. Dude. I used to like do that as a kid. Like by myself in front of the mirror. Now you’re reminding me how good this this film is, is legit good. It’s not just established.
Aram Collier 21:00
But what I will say is there is flute music like that like EDS orientalist flute music like an every scene has flute music. So if you like flute music, check this movie out.
Tadashi Nakamura 21:14
But okay, so that’s probably like, again, how this like stereotypical images informed ourselves about our own culture. Like, guess what instrument I chose to play in elementary school.
Unknown Speaker 21:30
It’s the fucking flute, cuz like to me I was like, yeah, that’s some Japanese Asian shit.
Tadashi Nakamura 21:37
And then yeah, and then like, I think I was the only like, boy who played the flute like all the other everyone else like all the other guys like chose like trumpet or saxophone and like, all the other other people played flute were like, you know the girls, but I remember I was like, Oh yeah, this is, this is some Asian shit right here.
Aram Collier 22:08
Do you want to hear us talking to it? Yeah, we say something. What’s your name?
Grace Bai 22:14
Jason Shiga 22:21
Okay, um, I did I did I tell you what we’re doing here, maybe just a little bit funny, because we’re sharing a microphone, but just like get a little bit closer to it when you talk. Okay, so we are doing these picks for summer movies. So I picked Karate Kid part two, which I know we’ve talked about before. So do you remember when you first saw it, like set the scene a little bit?
Grace Bai 22:52
I have no.
But it probably was a video from my parents store that that’s normally halloweeny watched movies so you didn’t see it in the movie theater. No.
Jason Shiga 23:06
So so you would have had access to a whole bunch of movies.
Grace Bai 23:10
Oh, yeah. Tough. Tough was my first R rated movie. I was tough turn.
Jason Shiga 23:16
Who’s in that? What’s the guy’s name? Like, who’s in one of the quarries? Probably like, chances are he was a core. He’s the guy from like
Unknown Speaker 23:27
James Spader. Oh, okay. He was in it. Okay.
Jason Shiga 23:32
In early James Spader movie, probably Yeah, yeah. And then did you clandestinely watch this R rated movie? Like, did you like what was the process of watching these films? They were like, cool dudes on the cover.
Grace Bai 23:46
Like very 80s. And, um,
I wasn’t, we were not like monitor.
Aram Collier 23:56
parenting, like you, you would browse the videos, so This was your parents store. Yeah in Calgary Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 24:03
we had a little like nook in the back with a TV
Jason Shiga 24:08
oh so you can watch it in the store you could just take it off the shelf and then watch it we love it we’re like need to help her sell to anything
Unknown Speaker 24:17
within reason within reason but yeah, so I watched movies is like checking out what’s on the wall they’re like the cases were empty obviously and then you check the number and then you get you go to the back of behind the counter and get the number and they weren’t they weren’t like oh, you can’t watch this kind of like it’s they were they did but I think like this was pretty innocuous and it
Aram Collier 24:43
tough turf was but what was like the what was the most like elicit movie that you probably would not have been able to watch but you still had it in the store.
Unknown Speaker 24:53
Oh, I definitely remember I couldn’t watch dirty dancing. Oh, all my friends watched journey. Thanks. Very nice.
Jason Shiga 25:00
So when did you end up watching that? I think I was in my teens. Oh, you missed out on a whole, like cultural moment. I was really annoyed. Yeah. And then what was it? Like they had heard your parents had heard of the movie? Or they just saw the title I think. But Karate Kid part two, also a cultural moment that you were able to take part in. Okay. So what what was good about it? What did you like about it?
Unknown Speaker 25:30
It was like, Asian people speaking English. And they were cool and talent. I mean, it was beautiful. And she was like the lead and she was young and and she wasn’t obnoxious.
Unknown Speaker 25:45
Unknown Speaker 25:47
but she’s just kind of like seemed like a real person. Like I don’t know I found it really refreshing and different and
Jason Shiga 25:54
like I’ve talked to you about this before and and I remember you, you talked about her hair. What will What did it What did you think about her hair?
Unknown Speaker 26:03
Oh, I loved her hair. And then also realized afterwards it’s like, oh, that messy hairs. But somehow it looks better on me. Like this Like, yeah,
Aram Collier 26:18
you related to the like flyaway Ah, yeah.
Grace Bai 26:24
But she pulls it off.
Jason Shiga 26:25
So you love tamland to meet his character at some point. I remember you telling a story about you. You had a running not a running but you cross paths with tamlyn Tomita later in life.
Unknown Speaker 26:40
Oh, yeah. So
Unknown Speaker 26:43
I think I was in university I had I did an internship in LA for a month or so. And, and part of the internship was to hang out with this guy who was like a jack of all trades and I think we were in the car, of course. driving somewhere because we’re in LA. And, you know, I somehow we got onto the topic of Karate Kid Part Two and how much I loved it and how much it inspired me builds bridges. This movie builds bridges. Yeah. And he, he’s, he’s he goes, Oh, I, she’s a good friend of mine. I know her really well, and I, of course, didn’t believe him at first and then the next thing I know, he was on the phone with tamlyn Tomita and passes it over to me and like, and she’s a fan and she, you know, she was she, you really inspired to I got to talk to her on the phone. And well, I was I like to talk to her on the phone. Well, you know, I was kind of trying not to be overly gushy, but I you know, just I was letting her know how much that movie meant to me and she was really nice about and you know, she’s kind of like I can’t remember exactly what she said. But the sentiment was, you know, like, do your best and like, keep fighting and I don’t know, it’s just kind of like really encouraging.
Unknown Speaker 28:11
So I have a feeling she might have had many calls like that in her life and he just had this like, Kansas. But no, I mean, what’s still like, she still would have the choice to tell you to, you know, to beat it or whatever. But you know, like, by all accounts, like she’s, like, a really generous and nice person. Oh my gosh, yeah, she was so nice. Yeah, it was, um, it was like a really cool moment for me.
Jason Shiga 28:37
Hmm. And so there’s another story you have about about you used some elements of the film in the show and tell when you were in whatever second grade or something like that. You tell that story. I
Unknown Speaker 28:50
was in second grade. It was like grade eight. What I think I was in junior high or something.
Grace Bai 29:00
Second grade. No. Okay. I was. So this is even more embarrassing.
Unknown Speaker 29:07
But you know, I think I only realized what I had done in retrospect. Like, I like I could fully admit it now I think at the time I was trying to like so but what was it that you did? Okay,
Aram Collier 29:19
so you’re eight you’re in eighth grade. You have a presentation you have
Unknown Speaker 29:23
a presentation to show and Tony No, it’s not show and tell it’s a presentation in French class I and we had to present or demonstrate something that we had done research on. And somehow I had chosen tea ceremony. And it was supposed to be a Korean tea ceremony which I have so I’m Korean, but I don’t know anything about my very little about my Korean heritage, let alone like the traditional stuff, but I had chosen green tea ceremony. Like I said, growing up, my parents had very little to do with anything we did. So I was kind of left to my own devices, researching Korean tea ceremonies from the encyclopedia. And I had, you know, back then we didn’t have YouTube or videos or anything. So I relied on, like still images and encyclopedia and some like random books. And so I had to kind of piece together you know, what a Korean tea ceremony would look like based on the text and images that I quote unquote, researched. So I mean, like, I was just a kid
Unknown Speaker 30:39
with the weight so cool, but But hold on,
Jason Shiga 30:42
like, my understanding is that you like Karate Kid party was part of your research, or was that just Oh?
Unknown Speaker 30:49
I thought you were like, let me die. Let me rewind that. No, no, no,
Jason Shiga 30:53
no, you hit the ball with this part. And then you pour the water.
Unknown Speaker 30:56
No, no. So no, no, but I think the Only like reference I had that I could relate to have actual tea ceremony was that scene in the movie like the only time you had ever seen it? Yeah. Like when would I Calgary in the 80s and 90s? Like, when would I have ever seen a traditional? No? Yeah, me neither. So Exactly. So that’s the only reference I had. So, in my attempt to demonstrate what a Korean tea ceremony would look like, and mind you again, this is Calgary in the I would say, like, early 90s, full of a class full of white people who have no idea of what the what they don’t i don’t think they even knew where Korea was right.
Aram Collier 31:41
And it’s all in French on top.
Grace Bai 31:42
I’m French, so who the heck knows anything. So I had brought Korean looking bowls from home. And then, and then kind of went through the motions of what a great teaser would look like, but it would it was all about Like a imitating what the tea ceremony looked like in order to get to
the turning of the bowl, the
the tagging and all of that stuff and like and then wiping it with a cloth like all of that was totally
Aram Collier 32:18
You see, but but then you did that for memory then you didn’t go back and watch the movie or you had seen it enough times that you have
Grace Bai 32:24
I’ve seen it so many times. Okay.
So many times,
Jason Shiga 32:28
and how what was the reaction? loved it, you got him? I got him. I got him You got him.
Unknown Speaker 32:34
But honestly, I got him like they had no idea and they wish they were like, oh, Asian. And I just remember like because I was on the floor and everybody had gotten up from their desk because they couldn’t see me from the back and hit the teachers like come on. Like this thing. And I was surrounded by all my classmates and I just had to like, fake it.
Aram Collier 32:58
You had to get through it. I think
Grace Bai 33:02
oh my gosh, yeah.
Unknown Speaker 33:03
And then so because I got him I think that guilt still resides deep in my heart. But also now I can look back at that kid and like, you know, what else
Aram Collier 33:15
to do? I was all you had. That was all you had.
Unknown Speaker 33:18
That was all I had. Um, yeah, so it’s kind of like this, like, shameful but hilarious. I Dory,
Jason Shiga 33:27
I think that’s really inventive, creative, resourceful. And you should attempt and you shoulda told tamlyn that story, too.
Grace Bai 33:35
No, I know. It’s It’s so embarrassing.
So that’s my tea ceremony story.
Aram Collier 33:44
Well, thanks for the thanks for The Karate Kid memories. I know you didn’t really want to do this, but I appreciate it. Yeah, you
Backstory podcast is presented by the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. It’s written and hosted by Aram Collier and Kelly Lui. It is edited and produced by Seungwoo Baek. Additional editing and producing for this episode by Haaris Qadri. For more information about the show our festival or upcoming events, check out our show notes. We’d like to hear from you. Send us a comment or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai