The Next Karate Kid
"It's very rare that an entire movie dies even before you pronounce the title."— The Nostalgia Critic
The Next Karate Kid (also known as The Karate Kid Part IV) is a 1994 American martial arts drama film starring Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce and Pat Morita returning as Mr. Miyagi. It is the fourth and penultimate film in the Karate Kid film series. It was directed by Christopher Cain, written by Mark Lee, and produced by Jerry Weintraub, with music by Bill Conti. It is the first film in the series not to feature Ralph Macchio in the lead role as Daniel LaRusso.
It was released on September 9, 1994. Upon its release, The Next Karate Kid was a critical and commercial failure; though many critics praised the acting, they ultimately saw the film as unnecessary.
Mr. Miyagi travels to Boston, Massachusetts to attend a commendation for Japanese-American soldiers, who fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. He meets Louisa Pierce, the widow of his commanding officer and a lieutenant, Jack. At Pierce's home, they catch up on old times and war stories.
Miyagi is also introduced to Pierce's granddaughter, Julie, a high school teen struggling with anger issues due to her parents' death in a car accident. Her behavior has led to friction between Julie and her grandmother, along with her fellow students and teachers. She sneaks into the school at night to care for an injured Harris's hawk, whom she names Angel, which she keeps in a pigeon coop on the roof.
Miyagi invites Louisa to stay at his house in Los Angeles to enjoy peace and quiet tending his garden while he remains in Boston as Julie's caretaker. At school, Julie meets and befriends Eric McGowen, a teenage security guard-in-training and a pledge for a shady school security fraternity, the Alpha Elite. The members are taught to enforce the school rules, mostly by using physical force, by a self-styled colonel, Paul Dugan. His toughest and most aggressive student is the short-fused Ned Randall, who makes unwanted sexual advances on Julie.
Why Daniel LaRusso Would Do The Crane Kick On It
- It doesn't even feel like a Karate Kid sequel at all, it feels more like a soft reboot than an actual sequel as it lacks any charm from the first three films, making it unnecessary for the franchise, overall it feels more like a remake of the first film.
- The entire plot of the film is nothing but pure filler as it does not focus on main aspect of the story which is karate and instead rather focuses on if it's more of a drama-romantic film rather than the main idea of martial arts.
- However, the film is considered to be canon but it can be ignored since it does not have any mentions or impacts on its successor Cobra Kai.
- Daniel LaRusso does not return from the previous Karate Kid films, although this film is supposed to focus on Julie, it would have been at least nice to see Daniel LaRusso in this film, however Ralph Macchio was offered to reprise his role as Daniel LaRusso but he refused.
- Because of that, we never knew what happened to Daniel LaRusso and Mr. Miyagi after Daniel's second tournament in The Karate Kid Part III. That is until Cobra Kai came out in 2018.
- Fun Fact: Ralph Macchio hates this film and wrote a review about it.
- Most of the characters are bland, one-dimensional, and very forgettable, if you finish watching this film, you probably forgot about Louisa Pierce, Angel The Hawk, or other characters who barley get any screentime and/or character development.
- There is barely any training or any fight scenes, there's more talk than action which is boring to watch.
- The acting in this film is awful and laughable, the acting is nothing like in the previous films (except for Pat Morita's which is good like the previous films).
- The film's pacing is so sluggish sometimes you forget what's even happening or you are just bored out of your mind because of the bad pacing.
- The fight scenes are really short and rushed compared to the other films, and it's really annoying since there is barley any fight scenes as previously mentioned in WDLWDTCKOI #5.
- Unlike Daniel, Julie Pierce is an extremely unlikable protagonist and has some questionable logic that doesn't really make any sense.
- She is extremely rude to her grandmother Lousia and Mr. Miyagi.
- She judges Mr. Miyagi's teachings about karate.
- In one scene, Julie did a kick and Mr. Miyagi congratulates her but she asks for a belt, which is irrelevant because you don't just ask for belt over one kick.
- Speaking about the kick, the kick she uses to defeat Ned is a rehash of Daniel LaRusso using the crane kick to defeat Johnny Lawrence.
- Her anger issues make her unlikable and annoying.
- Sometimes she's even rude to her boyfriend Eric McGowen.
- How did she jump over that pizza truck with no training from Miyagi at that point?!!
- She randomly beats Ned with lack of training.
- Pretty much she's just a rehash of Daniel LaRusso, only rude.
- There is an unnecessary scene where Ned (Julie's rival) captures Angel (Julie's pet hawk), but right after that she finds Angel right away. This scene is really unnecessary as it can be removed with no effect on the film at all.
- Julie does not fight Ned in a tournament, instead she fights him at the docks and yet she somehow manages to defeat Ned. By the way, this is the only time that she fights!
- Speaking about the fight on the docks, there are some issues with the fight choreography, when Julie uses the kick to defeat Ned, you can clearly see she missed.
- Paul Dugan is a rehash of John Kreese, Mr. Miyagi's rival in the previous films.
- Also Dugan's quote about Alpha Elite (Dugan's dojo which is also a rehash of Kreese's dojo Cobra Kai) is laughable which is "In the past, we've had external enemies. Now the enemy is in our country. It's inside our cities, in our schools. In a war, you have to be ready and able to destroy your enemy. Your school is clean and orderly... because you are ready and able to give a maximum response. Some punk brings spray paint, puts graffiti on our walls... we spray paint his eyeballs so that he sees red. Some kid drops a candy wrapper... you make him pick it up and eat it." The quote sounds menacing at first, but then it starts to sound stupid.
- He gets defeated very easily by Mr. Miyagi.
- It's kinda obvious and predictable that he was gonna be similar to John Kreese.
- Mr. Miyagi seems to have forgotten about the nose honk trick in The Karate Kid Part II where he was fighting Kreese after Daniel's first tournament. When the battle was over, Mr. Miyagi used the trick on Kreese, but when Mr. Miyagi was about to do the trick on Dugan in this film after the battle on the docks, he blows away Dugan instead of honking his nose.
- Ned Randall is a lazy rehash of Johnny Lawrence (Daniel's first opponent) and Mike Barnes (Daniel's third opponent) and unlike the latter who is a little bit of a rehash of the former, Ned's rivalry towards Julie doesn't provide anything unique and interesting.
- The punching and the kicking don't sound convincing at all which is another reason why the fight scenes are boring to watch as previously mentioned in WDLWDTCKOI #8 and WDLWDTCKOI #5.
- The entire point of this film is completely pointless, think about Daniel LaRusso as a girl which you get Julie Pierce, and make an entire movie about it, that's what The Next Karate Kid basically is!
- To make matters worse, this movie sends negative and sexist messages saying that women can't defend themselves as well as considering the fact that this is a 90s movie, which depicted women as fighting characters or martial artists differently back then.
- Similar to Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Shrek the Third, and Cars 2, The Next Karate Kid seems to have no impact on its franchise as a whole as the events of this film are ignored in Cobra Kai. One can watch the first three Karate Kid films, skip this film, and jump straight into Cobra Kai without missing anything important.
- There's a scene where Ned and his gang crash the prom Julie and Ned go to, but they used completely unnecessary slow motion effects which ruins the scene.
- Because of the film's notoriety, it killed The Karate Kid franchise temporarily, as no sequels were made only coming with a reboot in 2010, however though as previously mentioned in WDLWDTCKOI #2 Cobra Kai came out in 2018, even though the franchise thankfully is still going on as it took them 24 years to recover the damage this film caused.
- Mr. Miyagi, the monks, and Eric McGowen are the only likable characters in this film.
- We get to know Mr. Miyagi's full name which is Nariyoshi Kesuke Miyagi.
- Julie's behavior improves throughout the film where she ends up becoming a bit more likable.
- Some decent scenes on where the monks teach Julie about living things, dance to themselves, and play in a bowling alley.
- The soundtrack is great to listen to.
The Next Karate Kid was critically panned, although many critics praised Swank, and it is still considered to be her break-out performance. On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval of 7% based on 27 reviews, with an average rating of 3.74/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The Next Karate Kid is noteworthy for giving audiences the chance to see a pre-Oscars Hilary Swank, but other than a typically solid performance from Pat Morita, this unnecessary fourth installment in the franchise has very little to offer." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Stephen Holden said it "may be the silliest episode yet in the popular Karate Kid series," a film that "doesn't even try to achieve surface credibility;" about the only thing positive Holden says about the film is that Swank makes an "appealing debut."
In February 2005, upon the release of the three-DVD "Karate Kid Collection," Variety magazine called The Next Karate Kid a "boilerplate coming-of-age sequel," but notes that Swank's "plucky determination and athletic drive shines through" as she would later do in Million Dollar Baby.
The Next Karate Kid was by some margin the least successful movie of the series at the domestic box office. Indeed, the film's performance ensured that the franchise disappeared from cinemas for sixteen years, only reappearing in 2010 with a remake of the original movie. The total box office gross for The Next Karate Kid was $8.9 million, compared to $130.4 million for the first movie, $130 million for Part II, $38.9 million for Part III and $359.1 million for the 2010 remake.
- Due to the poor box office performance and negative feedback this film got, it didn't get its own DVD release, it had to be in a bundle with the previous Karate Kid films.
- As previously mentioned in WIS #18, the events of this movie were completely ignored in Cobra Kai.
- One of the first films to star Hilary Swank.
- As previously mentioned in WIS #3 Ralph Macchio was offered to star in the film. However, he refused to reprise his role.