Tag Archives: Martin Kove

The Karate Kid (1984, John G. Avildsen)

James Crabe’s photography gets The Karate Kid through the rough patches. The film’s incredibly uneven–Bill Conti’s score initially seems like it’ll be a plus, ends up being a minus, and the editing is strange. Director Avildsen, with two other editors, can’t seem to figure out how to cut the climatic fight sequence. Like many sequences in the film, it’s set to a pop song (only one of those sequences works out), but it’s almost like Avildsen didn’t consider how to cut the film together when shooting.

But, like I said, Crabe’s there to make up for Avildsen’s questionable composition. There are a few times he goes for painfully obvious symbolism–poor Ralph Macchio dejectedly walking away alone–but mostly Avildsen goes for pedestrian. Crabe’s photography and William J. Cassidy’s production design give the film most of its personality.

The rest of the personality comes from Macchio and Pat Morita. Robert Mark Kamen’s script is far from great (and not particularly close to good either), but Macchio and Morita’s relationship does keep the film together through its lengthy runtime. Kamen and Avildsen prefer telling the story in summary, which makes it hard to care about Macchio right off. They seem to understand and loose William Zabka to mercilessly bully Macchio from the second or third scene.

There are some nice moments, eventually–not for a while–with Elisabeth Shue and Macchio.

Macchio’s performance is more appealing than good, ditto poor Morita (who’s basically playing Yoda). A better finish would’ve helped.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by John G. Avildsen; written by Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, James Crabe; edited by Bud S. Smith, Walt Mulconery and Avildsen; music by Bill Conti; production designer, William J. Cassidy; produced by Jerry Weintraub; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Ralph Macchio (Daniel), Pat Morita (Miyagi), Elisabeth Shue (Ali), Randee Heller (Lucille), William Zabka (Johnny) and Martin Kove (Kreese).


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Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985, George P. Cosmatos)

Rambo‘s pretty awful. It’s not terrible–not too terrible to watch anyway (at least once, though New York Times critic A.O. Scott should probably be fired for supporting it to any degree). The main technical fault lies with George P. Cosmatos, who somehow managed to stock the crew with capable people (editor Mark Goldblatt is no slouch and Jack Cardiff–you know, the Archer’s cinematographer–shot it), but can’t shoot an action scene, establishing shot, anything. The second unit stuff of the helicopters is the best composition in the movie. The next big problem, then, lies with the script. And not even Stallone’s political commentary, which I’ll save for its own paragraph. No, the problem with the script is the movie’s mostly action after fifty minutes. Forty or so minutes of chase scenes and shooting and explosions. None of these things, of course, look good. Cosmatos is awful at shooting them.

Next problem, the cast. Richard Crenna’s terrible, Charles Napier’s terrible, Martin Kove’s terrible, Julia Nickson-Soul is terrible. Steven Berkoff’s poorly directed but he at least appears to be having fun. Stallone’s okay for some of it… not when he’s talking, not when he’s romancing Nickson-Soul. But when he’s running around, he’s okay. Not when he’s got the big gun either. It just looks too absurd.

As for the film’s politics, they’re incredibly confused (if strangely well-meaning). So confused–and the movie is such an absurd vehicle for political commentary–it’s hard to take them seriously. Stallone pushes and pulls in every direction. Each one of Rambo’s painful moments of political insight is invalidated by the next and it’s somewhat offensive–given the whole movie is about POWs still in Vietnam–Stallone takes the spotlight for himself at the end, instead of acknowledging–in the movie’s reality–there are a dozen or so men about to go home after twenty years in a prison camp.

Luckily, Rambo’s final speech is so dumb and brother Frank Stallone’s song is so awful, it’s impossible to dwell much on Rambo: First Blood Part II… thinking too hard about it, trying to unravel Stallone’s contradictory ideas, trying to understand why Rambo falls in love with Nickson-Soul in four and a half seconds… it hurts the brain.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by George P. Cosmatos; screenplay by Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron, based on a story by Kevin Jarre and on characters created by David Morrell; director of photography, Jack Cardiff; edited by Mark Goldblatt and Mark Helfrich; music by Jerry Goldsmith; production designer, Bill Kenney; produced by Buzz Feitshans; released by Tri-Star Pictures.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (John J. Rambo), Richard Crenna (Col. Samuel Trautman), Charles Napier (Marshall Murdock), Steven Berkoff (Lt. Col. Podovsky), Julia Nickson-Soul (Co Bao), Martin Kove (Ericson), George Cheung (Tay), Andy Wood (Banks), William Ghent (Capt. Vinh) and Voyo Goric (Sgt. Yushin).


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