The Next Karate Kid (1994)
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The first four come in a boxed set, starting, of course, with the classic original. And it IS a classic, iconic even. I'm not even sure what to say about it because everyone reading this is likely to have seen it. It still works. Part 2 isn't quite as good. I respect the idea of returning to Okinawa and exploring Mr. Miyagi's origins, but the character's resistance to fighting translates into a film without a lot of karate. The kinds of lessons Miyagi was teaching in Part 1 are there, but don't pay off as well. Part 2 also starts the franchise's tradition of writing out unneeded characters in an off-hand way, and of course, shows there are bullies everywhere you go. Increasingly motiveless bullies. Part 3 returns to California and takes it to ridiculous extremes. The villain comes out of nowhere to revenge Part 1's baddie, and is over-the-top evil. Why is this karate-chopping millionaire taking time out of his toxic-spilling schedule to ruin the life of a 17-year-old? By this point - and this may be the effect of watching them in one go - Daniel-San's tics have become annoying. He's always been prone to talking to himself and rambling, but what was once naturalism is now exposition-filled, incessant monologuing. So is Part 3 the least of the series? It may be. It's certainly the least memorable. The Next Karate Kid could also make a claim to that title. Daniel himself is written out as Mr. Miyagi does some babysitting for a friend in Boston, teaching her orphaned delinquent relative to face her problems head on. Hilary Swank is actually effective in the role and a much better fighter than Macchio ever was. There's also some sitcommy fun in seeing Miyagi try to raise a difficult teenage girl. Unfortunately, the plot is ABSURD! And in a way, it's why I'm giving this one a better review than Part 3. At one point, the absurdity got too much and I was in stitches! Examples: A Buddhist monastery in the Boston foot hills, zen Bouddhist bowling, bungee bombing the prom (that's the one that got me), and the whole karate security force in the school (where NO ONE looks like a high school student) run by a motivelessly evil Michael Ironside. It isn't a good film, but taken as a spoof, it's actually fun.
20 year old Hilary Swank portrays a 16 year old girl in a ridiculous "martial arts" movie devoid of the spirit of it's predecessors, and since Ralph Macchio was 33 at the time and "not interested in becoming the Sylvester Stallone of Karate Kid movies" - there is no Daniel-san.
The only good thing left is Mr. Miyagi and after three movies, it's getting a bit old and tired.
This is a kids movie with a laughable, overly generous IMDb score of 4.0 (currently). Simply proving yet again that IMDb scores are a huge joke.
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