Last week I did a massive comparison of the first six Star Trek films and the Rocky series. Even though those two series seemed to have nothing in common on the surface, they turned out to have numerous similarities when examined closely. I’d like to follow up that article with another eye-opening comparison of the next five Star Trek films – Star Trek Generations through Star Trek (2009) with the Karate Kid series.
So let’s boldly finish what we started last week as we explore the similarities between Star Trek VII through XI with the five Karate Kid films.
Star Trek Generations vs. The Karate Kid (1984)
The first film bridges the generational gap in a unique way. Soran is an alien being who desperately wants to return to a ribbon of energy called the Nexus where he will have his heart’s desires fulfilled. Daniel LaRusso is a teenager who is so miserable after moving to California that he constantly pesters his mother to move back to their old home in New Jersey.
James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard – captains of the U.S.S. Enterprise from two different time periods – work together to help Picard defeat Soran. Mr. Miyagi and Daniel – karate enthusiasts from different continents – work together to help Daniel overcome a group of bullies.
Kirk and Picard waste a lot of time in the Nexus doing seemingly pointless activities that eventually lead Kirk to change his perspective and realize that nothing is real around him. Miyagi makes Daniel spend a lot of time on menial tasks that seem pointless at the time, but they turn out to be subtly teaching Daniel karate moves.
Kirk encourages Picard to remain captain of the Enterprise for as long as possible. Miyagi gives Daniel the keys to a classic car and encourages him to find balance in his life.
Picard is defeated in his first attempt to stop Soran’s evil plan. With the help of Kirk, Picard tries a second time and manages to defeat Soran. Daniel gets his knee dislocated just before his final tournament fight with the main bully. Miyagi puts the knee back in place, allowing Daniel to return and beat his opponent once and for all.
Star Trek Generations is generally considered to be a misstep because of its wasted potential. The Kirk and Picard scenes are boring and lack chemistry and the whole story is lackluster. The Karate Kid, however, is a classic. Who doesn’t love this movie? It’s got heart, great lines, excellent fight scenes, and superb drama. What more can you ask? How about a solid sequel for both of these films?
Star Trek First Contact vs. The Karate Kid Part II
In the sequel, the heroes travel to an ancient land to do battle with an old foe. Picard was once assimilated by the Borg and he believes he is the only one who can defeat them. Miyagi was once in a feud with a man named Sato and Miyagi returns to Okinawa to confront his old demons.
The Enterprise travels back in time more than 300 years to stop the Borg from assimilating the Earth. Miyagi and Daniel go to a village in Okinawa that has a very ancient feel and they learn that Sato has taken over the village and now forces everyone to rent land from him.
The Enterprise crew annoys Dr. Zefram Cochrane so much about his historic warp flight that he refuses to do it. He decides to go through with it in the end after he realizes he doesn’t have to be perfect to do something momentous. As soon as Miyagi arrives, Sato constantly pesters him to fight to the death to finally end their feud. Miyagi refuses and finds a constructive way to resolve their differences.
Picard can’t take his newfound flame to the future for fear of disrupting the timeline. Miyagi doesn’t bring his true love to America for fear of disrupting the balance of power in his village.
Star Trek First Contact is easily the best of the Next Generation films. It’s perfectly paced and it can be forgiven for its lapses in logic by its many positive points. The Karate Kid Part II doesn’t reach the heights of the first film, but it is still an excellent film, taking the series in a new direction while still managing to stay true to what came before. If only they had managed to maintain this level of quality in the third film.
Star Trek Insurrection vs. The Karate Kid Part III
The series took a steep nosedive with this entry, which is basically a rehash of past greatness. The Federation and an evil race called the Son’a form a pact to take revenge on a peaceful race called the Ba’ku. The main villain from the first Karate Kid film teams up with a conniving businessman to take revenge on Daniel.
The Ba’ku had a civil war long ago in which they exiled a faction (called the Son’a) off their planet. Daniel, his mother, and Miyagi suddenly find themselves homeless after their landlord evicts everyone from their apartment complex.
The planet the Ba’ku live on rejuvenates life and restores people to health. Miyagi has a special compound that heals Daniel’s wounds.
Picard and his crew defy their orders and put their careers in jeopardy to help the Ba’ku. Daniel goes against everything Miyagi taught him and nearly destroys their relationship to fight in a tournament.
These films are both lackluster and come across as insufferably preachy. Also, all of the actors are starting to show their age, so having them act in juvenile ways doesn’t work at all. Poor John G. Avildsen directed the disastrous Karate Kid Part III and then proceeded to kill the Rocky series a year later with Rocky V. What a raw deal.
Star Trek Nemesis vs. The Next Karate Kid
Trying to breathe new life into decaying franchises, these fourth films accidentally killed what was left of their series. Star Trek Nemesis was meant to be a sort of torch-passing film with Data dying and B-4 taking his place, as well as Will Riker finally leaving the Enterprise to take his own command elsewhere. Miyagi is the only returning character in The Next Karate Kid. Daniel has gone on to better things, and everyone else seems to have moved on with their lives.
The Enterprise crew gets together to celebrate the marriage of Riker and Deanna Troi. Miyagi attends a ceremony where he accepts an award for his service during World War II.
The villains’ plan makes no sense. I could go on and on about how nonsensical Shinzon’s plan is, but I’ll forbear for the sake of space and my own personal sanity. I don’t even know what the bad guys in The Next Karate Kid want. They fight people on the docks, bungee jump into a dance, and destroy school property. What is their purpose?!
There’s a pointless sexual assault scene that I apologize for even having to mention. At least the one in The Next Karate Kid is much less disturbing.
These are by far the lowest-grossing films in their series. Both of these films earned less than half of the previous entry, which wasn’t exactly considered a big success, either. This was the death knell.
Star Trek (2009) vs. The Karate Kid (2010)
Luckily, these series were redeemed by a solid reboot years later. Honestly, these two films have almost nothing in common besides being reboots. The Karate Kid follows the original film’s story to a T and Star Trek is a unique take on a familiar story. There are a few similarities worth commenting on, though.
Kirk and his crew demonstrate remarkable abilities that were absent from, or only hinted at, in the original films. Despite being called The Karate Kid, this film features kung fu. That’s kind of a big difference.
The main cast is completely replaced with young, fresh actors reprising roles established in the original films. That goes without saying, seeing as how these are reboots, but I just felt like making sure that’s clear.
The villains die a horrible fiery death in the end. Okay, I made that up about The Karate Kid. But it sure felt like they deserved it after how cruel they were throughout the film.
Like I said, these reboots restored a sense of greatness to these series. I would be fine if there was never another Karate Kid movie because the formula has been done to death. Star Trek, on the other hand, is incredibly flexible and it can be used as a vehicle for telling pretty much any story imaginable, from romance and drama to action and comedy. The sky’s the limit for Star Trek now that it’s broken out of the Karate Kid box with Star Trek Into Darkness. Hopefully it won’t follow another downward path, but it will live long and prosper.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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