An Ultra-Picky Movie Plot Point Review: First Edition

This is the first installment in what I hope will be a (semi) regular series investigating oddly-written and/or executed plot points in familiar movies.

The first movie is brought to you by a weekend channel-surfing binge and the best in popular entertainment that 1986 had to offer–a sequel to a wildly popular movie that has become interwoven into the fabric of pop culture history.

My weekend lifeline.

Sequels are tricky. Few end up reaching the heights of the parent film that spawned their existence in the first place. Studios–often seeing the success of a particular movie–naturally hope that they might strike gold and end up with an entire franchise out of a particular set of characters and stories. More often than not, though, the result is the dreaded “Sophomore Slump.”

With that in mind, I still found myself rather enthusiastically watching The Karate Kid Part II, thinking that nostalgia might win me over for an afternoon.

What did I end up doing, though? I did what I always do when I’ve seen a movie a million times. I quoted it along with the characters, then I picked it apart. Mercilessly.

the karate kid GIF
Yeah, I know. This is from the first movie. The quote fits in this case, though…so, there.

SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve never seen the movie (I mean, seriously…where have you been for the last three decades?) and you’re worried about finding out an important (ha) plot point that will ruin your future viewing experience, just stop here and visit my Etsy shop. (Visit anyway, because I could use the business. Please and thank you.)

If you’re ready to pick apart a few things, by all means, keep reading. I’m really only going to focus on one scene. I just couldn’t let this one go, even though I’ve watched the movie a gazillion times and didn’t think too much about it until…well, until I thought about it.

I’ll be talking about the storm scene.

Most of the village has taken refuge in a shelter to wait out what I can only assume is a typhoon, given Okinawa’s location. As the villagers are running for cover, the viewers watch as a small girl perched atop a ladder is ringing a bell to alert everyone to the impending danger.

Why I never thought about this, I don’t know, but my immediate reaction during my most recent viewing was, Why isn’t an adult doing this job?

Meanwhile, everyone piles into the shelter, and within a short time frame, the bell stops tolling.

My next thought?

Wait. Uhh…something’s not right here.

Rocky Sylvester Stallone GIF - Rocky SylvesterStallone NoBell GIFs

The girl? Nowhere to be seen. Not in the shelter, not ringing the bell, not running through the rain to get to safety. Of course, this does set up the hero scene to come, but no one in the shelter appears to be frantically searching for this child. No one in this small village really seems to be thinking, Hmmm. Wasn’t someone ringing the bell earlier? Where did she go?

Only after Sato’s house collapses (which leads to a Miyagi karate chop of monumental proportions–another plot point to explore at another time) do we find out that the girl is STILL AT THE TOP OF THE LADDER SCREAMING FOR ASSISTANCE. I guess we couldn’t hear her screaming earlier because of, you know, the RAGING STORM.

Daniel saves the day–even using his belt to fend off a renegade power line–to rescue the girl who has been hanging on for dear life through the wind and rain.

When they return to the shelter, only then do we see someone take the crying child into their arms to comfort her.

I’m no filmmaker, but I would think someone might have mentioned this set of details during the editing process.

I’ll admit, the movie is a guilty pleasure that did well at the box office back in the day. I will probably watch it again, but I just couldn’t help myself this time when it came to documenting my findings.

If you have any suggestions for future ultra-picky plot point reviews, please feel free to leave me a comment. I’m sure I’ll find another one on my own during my next channel-surfing expedition.

An Observation: The Writing On The Wall

Yesterday, I took a little day trip up to one of my favorite places in the world. I doubt I would have known it was going to be one of my favorite places in the world had my mom not landed a job in the community the summer before my sophomore year of college.

I hesitate to use phrases such as “nestled deep within the Arkansas Ozarks” or “gem hidden away among the mountains,” because it might imply that I’d been reading a book of cliches. You can try to paint the picture in words of the feeling of the place…but I’ve yet to find the proper words that capture it all. (And I like to think I’m pretty good with words, darn it.)

Little Red Cow Shoals May 2016 Watermark
I suppose this will do for now.

The town is Heber Springs, Arkansas. As I mentioned, my mom took a job in Heber Springs several years back. While she no longer lives there, the place stayed with me after years of spending some of my weekends and a couple of summers in her little house near Greers Ferry Lake.

And her little house is where this story is set.

Sure, I could take you out into nature and let you explore the Little Red River…or Sugarloaf Mountain (whichever Sugarloaf Mountain you choose–yes, there are two)…but I’d have to start using cliches, and I try my best to avoid cliches like the plague.

Her little red house on the lake was, in a word, cute. Walt Disney couldn’t have come up with a more idyllic setting, where deer would walk up to the front yard and look directly at you as you glare at them for eating the pears from the pear tree (no, I’m not bitter about that).

It was a split-level house with a bedroom at the top of the stairs. Mom decided this would be my bedroom when I came to visit. The crow’s nest. The walls were painted a faded yellow and the windows offered a view of dense forest in the sparsely-populated neighborhood. It’s exactly the kind of view I needed after staring at dorm room cinder blocks for weeks on end.

The view from my dorm room did encourage creativity in Christmas decor, however.
The view from my dorm room did encourage creativity in my Christmas decor, however.

I’d been going up to the little red house for about two years when I discovered something…an accidental discovery.

I was up in the crow’s nest reading one evening when the last light bulb on the overhead light went out. (I’ve always been lazy about changing light bulbs. They all have to burn out before I’ll take action. I’m short and I don’t like heights. So there.) Well, don’t you know, we were out of light bulbs and it was too late to go to the store, so I turned on the lamp next to my bed. I never used that lamp; it served more of a decorative purpose than that of functional illumination.

I wish I had thought to turn it on much sooner after I looked up at the wall.

The previous owners of the house had teenagers when they moved. The light from the lamp climbed up the wall at just the right angle to see that their kids had used their fingers to write their names into the yellow paint as it had dried.

The names were surrounded and enclosed by a finger-painted heart.

My mouth dropped open as I marveled at my discovery…my own little domestic version of cave paintings.

I turned off the lamp. The names disappeared in the darkness.

I turned the lamp back on again and saw much more than names on a wall. I saw a glimpse into a family’s history–of people I had never met and will probably never meet.

I reached up and traced the outlines with my own fingers and smiled. I envisioned the memories they had made as I made memories of my own going up to visit that little red house for seven years.

Memories like walking into that bedroom as four people had hidden out in closets and under the bed trying to scare me.

Of trying unsuccessfully to walk down the steep driveway after a massive Christmas ice storm.

Of casting a fishing lure clean off the end of my line and out into the middle of the lake when I realized I had not tied the knot tight enough.

We tried to start a little tradition of our own when Mom installed a storm cellar. Every time we were forced to run to the “‘fraidy hole” out to hide from the weather, we took a permanent marker and etched a tally mark on the concrete wall.

Unfortunately, the humidity decided the marker wasn’t so permanent after all.

The memories are pretty permanent, though…even if we didn’t leave actual writing on the wall.