The best thing about editing Giant Robot magazine was being able to share the rad things that friends do. And make new friends that do rad things. That’s how I feel about my first sizable “solo” project, assembling (and sometimes even participating in) excellent shorts that friends have created and then complementing them with works by new friends. So while the Animal Style (Chicago) and Son of Animal Style (Honolulu, San Diego) skate video programs have given my crew an outlet for their hard work, they have provided me with fodder to keep engaged, keep pushing culture.
And is there a better place to do it than the Hawaii International Film Festival? No other fest balances East and West, high and low, or big budget and indie like HIFF. And while it makes sense for the latest iteration of the Animal Style program to show alongside the long-awaited Bones Brigade: An Autobiography, it’s even cooler that it is on the same roster as Cloud Atlas, Tai Chi 0, and The King of Pigs. It puts skateboard movies in the same conversation as “real” cinema. And with guys like Spike Jonze, Mike Mills, Jason Lee, and even Sam Lee coming from the world of skateboarding, why not?
In 1986, a wire thin Ralph Macchio was cast again as karate champ “Danny” in Karate Kid 2. This time, he leaves the San Fernando Valley and travels to Japan with his Karate sensei, “Miyagi” played by Pat Morita. Miyagi needs to visit his dying father. Meanwhile there’s drama between he and his old rival friend, but stealing scenes is Danny’s hot female love interest, Kumiko portrayed by Tamlyn Tomita in her acting debut.
At the time, young Asian American female leads were scarce and Tamlyn Tomita became the woman by which many Asian American females were gauged. She was the crush of kids everywhere and 25 years later is quietly celebrating her debuts 25th anniversary. Only the Hawaii International Film Festival screened Karate Kid 2 and invited Tomita to the islands, and that’s where I caught up with her. In her Halekulani hotel suite, I got to sit down with Tomita to ask her every question I had boiling for the last two and half decades.
There’s a joke in my family that when Tamlyn Tomita’s name ever gets brought up, I’m quickly hovering the conversation. Crushes can run for decades.
Here’s a few memorable quotes:
On Karate Kid 2, “Changed by Freakin Life.”
“25 years ago I was known as the Karate Kid Girl, and now I’m known as the Glee mom. If you want any more evidence that 25 years have passed, there you go.”
“I look at a person, ok this one probably in his 40s I’ll refer to Karate Kid, if it’s a woman 25-40 I’ll say Joy Luck Club. If it’s a young teenager, it’s Glee.”
There are things to do in Hawaii aside from the early morning beach visits. It’s food. Ramen Nakamura, or NakamuRamen or as a friend pointed out, RameNakamura and Waiola Shave Ice with Tamlyn Tomita.
That’s Oxtail Ramen below. It’s coma inducing. Proceed at your own risk. It costs $13, a bit much, but that’s Waikiki for you. Yes those are dried garlic pieces.