The Next Karate Kid (1994)
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 It Sucks
- The main problem with this film is that it lacks any charm from the first 3 films, making it unnecessary for the franchise!
- Daniel LaRusso does not come back from the 1st 3 Karate Kid films, which is another reason why this film is unnecessary.
- Most of these characters are bland and 1-demensional.
- The acting in this film is awful and laughable, not to forget that the acting is nothing like the previous films. (Except for Mr. Miyagi's which is good like the others films)
- Unlike Daniel LaRusso, Julie Pierce is extremely unlikable as a protagonist (Thankfully she does get better in the end)
- She is extremely rude to her grandmother Lousia, and Mr. Miyagi,
- Also not to forget that she judges Mr. Miyagi's teachings about karate.
- Julie at one scene, she did a kick, Miyagi said congrats to her but Julie asked for a belt, YOU CAN'T GET BELTS FOR JUST ONE PERFECT KICK!!!!
- Julie does not fight Ned in a tournament, instead she fights him at the docks, and yet she some how manages to defeat Ned, by the way, this is the only time that she fights!
- There is an unnecessary scene where Ned (Julie's rival) captures Angel (Julie's pet hawk) but right after that Julie finds Angel right away, this scene is really unnecessary it can be removed with no effect on the film at all.
- Paul Dugan is a rehash of John Kreese, Mr. Miyagi's rival in the previous films.
- Not to forget that Dugan's quote about Alpha Elite (Dugan's dojo which is also a rehash of John 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." It sounds cool at first, but then it starts to sound stupid.
- He gets defeated very easily by Mr. Miyagi.
- Mr. Miyagi seems to have forgotten about the nose honk trick, in The Karate Kid II, Mr. Miyagi was fighting Kreese after Daniel LaRusso's first tournament, when the battle was over Mr. Miyagi honked his nose, but when Mr. Miyagi about to do the trick on Dugan after the battle on the docks, he blows away Dugan instead of honking his nose.
- Ned Randall is a rehash of Johnny Lawrence (Daniel's 1st opponent) and Mike Barnes (Daniel's 3rd opponent).
- The punching and the kicking sound like slapping instead, not to mention that the fight scenes are real short, also there is barely any karate in this film.
- Similar to the Cars series with Cars 2, The Next Karate Kid seems to have almost no impact on the film franchise and the TV show as a whole, as most of its events are ignored in Cobra Kai TV series, one can watch the first three Karate Kid movies, skip this film and jump straight into Cobra Kai without missing anything important.
- The idea of Mr. Miyagi having a 2nd student in his dojo is unique and interesting, but it was executed horribly.
- There are unnecessary slow motion effects which don't need to be in the film at all as they ruin the scene.
- There's a scene where Ned and his gang crash the prom Julie and Ned go to, but they used slow motion effects which ruins the scene!
- There's another scene where Ned crashes Eric's car which also used slow motion effects which ruined the scene!
- Mr. Miyagi, the monks, and Eric McGowen are the only likable characters in this film.
- We get to know Mr. Miyagi's 1st name which is Nariyoshi Miyagi.
- There were some interesting scenes to watch at times.
- Julie's behavior improves through out the film and making herself a bit more likable.
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 reception of this film, it didn't get its own DVD release, it had to be in a bundle with the other Karate Kid films.
- As previously mentioned, the events of this movie were completely ignored in Cobra Kai.