The Karate Kid part III (1989, Directed by John G. Avildsen) English 4

Starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively, Thomas Ian Griffith, Sean Kanan

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(4-Bad Film)

Over the top. Rehash. Drudgery.

Daniel and Mr. Miyagi return to California and open a store selling bonsai trees. Their enterprise is interrupted by Terry Silver (Ian Griffith), a member of the Cobra Kai who was humiliated by the protagonists a year earlier at the Karate tournament. Silver vows revenge and enlists a superstar hotshot to compete against Daniel to reclaim the title. Utterly unnecessary first and foremost. Completely devoid of fun or humor. Daniel is too manic in this entry. The villains are way over the top; in their actions and in their acting. And the love interest, if she can be called that, is more like a friend zone relationship. Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi is wonderful as always.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(509)

The Karate Kid (1984, Directed by John G. Avildsen) English 9

Starring Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka, Martin Kove

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(9-Great Film)

Crowd-pleasing. Rousing. Classic.

A New Jersey boy named Daniel (Macchio) moves to California with his single mother and immediately runs into a gang of bullies. They torment him ceaselessly until the Okinawan maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), stands up for him, and offers to teach him karate, in preparation for a massive tournament at the end of the year. Your standard sports film in many ways, The Karate Kid gets over the top by being better than the rest. The relationship and friendship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi is the heart of the film, and I enjoy the corny ’80s trappings and teen romance.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(500)

The Karate Kid (2010, Directed by Harald Zwart) English 7

Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson

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(7-Very Good Film)

Exciting. Triumphant. Enjoyable.

Reworking the original’s premise, this time with a younger lead and a foreign setting, The Karate Kid centers around Dre, a 12-year-old boy from Detroit who moves to Beijing with his single mother, and makes enemies with a gang of sadistic kids right off the back. His only friends are Meiying, the girl he has a crush on, and Mr. Han (Chan), a meek maintenance man. Eventually, as the bullying persists, Mr. Han steps in and offers to teach Dre Kung Fu. The deal: the kids will leave Dre alone as long as he shows up for the tournament at the end of the year. As far as remakes go, this one is remarkably successful. Captures much of the joy of the original, and still feels fresh much of the time. The locations are beautiful and are a major reason for this success.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(475)

Bull Durham (1988, Directed by Ron Shelton) English 8

Starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Trey Wilson, Robert Wuhl, William O’Leary

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Fresh. Appealing. Knowing.

As equally fantastic a romantic comedy as it is a baseball movie, Bull Durham stars Sarandon, Costner, and Robbins caught up in a heavily imbalanced love triangle. Sarandon plays kind of a baseball groupie who takes in a different player every season. This season though she finds herself falling for a dogged veteran (Costner) as she takes in the talented meathead (Robbins). Sarandon has a difficult role. Her Annie Savoy wouldn’t normally be the hero in a romantic comedy, and Sarandon makes her charming and the work seem effortless.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(462)

Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks (2009, Directed by Dan Klores) English 7

Featuring Reggie Miller, John Starks, Spike Lee, Patrick Ewing, Mark Jackson

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(7-Very Good Film)

Engaging. Funny. Insightful.

Another fascinating entry in ESPN’s running 30 for 30 series, this one follows the early to mid-’90s,  NBA rivalry between the Reggie Miller led Indiana Pacers and the Patrick Ewing led New York Knicks. The story is set with the retirement of Michael Jordan, who, with the Chicago Bulls, dominated the Eastern Conference as well as the rest of the NBA. With MJ gone, the rest of the league felt stronger than ever that their time was now, and the pressure was higher than ever. Two of the biggest contenders are chronicled in this funny and illuminating documentary, highlighting the teams’ similarities, Reggie Miller’s antagonistic persona, and Spike Lee’s passionate courtside fandom. The film is a lightweight compared to some of the other more substantial 30 for 30s, but it still demonstrates the power of sports, which I believe is the key to the series greatness. It answers the question of why we love sports.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(443)

Grand Prix (1966, Directed John Frankenheimer) English 7

Starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Francoise Hardy, Brian Bedford, Jessica Walter, Toshiro Mifune

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(7-Very Good Film)

Stylish. Exciting. Flat.

Follows the lives of four Formula One drivers through the 1966 racing season as they compete to be world champions. There’s Pete Aron (Garner). A stoic, but somewhat reckless American driver who’s blamed for his teammate’s wreck. Sarti (Montand), a Frenchman. The best in the sport, but starting to grow weary of it. He starts an affair with an American journalist (Saint). Scott Stoddard (Bedford), an Englishman recovering from a major wreck and his wife leaving him. And Barlini (Sabato), an arrogant and carefree Italian racer. The women, though certainly beautiful, are completely short-changed in this picture. As a result, the surrounding drama around the stunning race sequences does not measure up. Yves Montand’s character is the only one with any real depth. That being said, the racing scenes truly are special. John Frankenheimer is an amazing craftsman, and the film’s nearly three-hour running time fly by thanks to his vision.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(357)

Dangal (2016, Directed by Nitesh Tiwari) Hindi 8

Starring Aamir Khan, Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Sakshi Tanwar

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Inspirational. Gripping. Moving.

Feel good story about a disappointed former wrestler, Mahavir Phogat (Khan), who shifts his dreams from winning gold for India to having a son who wins gold. After trying for a son for years, Mahavir and his wife end up with four daughters, and his dreams seem to be over. Years later, with his peers calling him crazy, he instead trains his two oldest daughters in wrestling. It’s a great story told exceptionally well with Aamir Khan going to great lengths and succeeding in making his appearance authentic. Even more difficult is his ability to make this harsh, deeply flawed father sympathetic, and the actresses that play his daughters are excellent as well. The wrestling sequences are exhilarating. Much credit to the filmmakers and performers who made these scenes incredibly realistic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(329)