A surprise. I quite liked this one.
There may not be anything outstanding, or even massively good, about 'The Next Karate Kid', but I actually felt content with what I had just watched when the end credits came along. It turns into a sweet story, even after a fairly rocky start.
The villains are meh, a little iffy but fine... far better than those from 'The Karate Kid Part III', that's for sure. Pat Morita (Mr. Miyagi) is a little cliché-filled but still super endearing and likeable. A young Hilary Swank, in her first major film role, brings a solid performance as Julie. At first I wasn't convinced, but by the end I felt like I saw a positive journey with the character.
In my opinion, it's the best sequel to 1984's 'The Karate Kid'. That's a big surprise, considering the downward trajectory of the preceding two. Don't get me wrong, it's close to being a not so good film. However, for me, it just about floats above the required marker. I like it, can't lie.
The Next Karate Kid doesn't even try to achieve surface credibility. Under the patient ministrations of Miyagi, Julie metamorphoses from an angry tomboy into a loving, disciplined beauty in a matter of weeks. [10 Sep 1994, p.14]
If anything, this last instalment gives a new light to the franchise by introducing the wonderfully played Julie. There is something to be said for The Next Karate Kid going for some other directions after 2 sequels of the same formula.
Because the last movie of the franchise failed at the box office and was disliked by many fans and critics they tried a fresh restart with a new story-line. Of cause they do not replace Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi as this would be much too harmful. He is the focus point of the franchise and Daniel LaRusso’s story can be considered finished as he has mastered the critical (life) lessons in the last 3 movies (Until Cobra Kai at least;-). I am in the minority that thinks this is a quite good movie with some mistakes that drag it down. Also I think the first movie which is a cult classic set the bars to high for all the prequels. Sometimes there is a peak that is nearly impossible to surpass or even reach. Again the movie uses themes from an underdog story, teenage drama, clashing philosophies and martial arts. The story starts with Mr. Miyagi traveling to Boston to attend a commendation for Japanese-American soldiers. He visits Louisa Pierce who is the widow of his friend and former commanding officer. He meets Julie who is his friends granddaughter and struggles because of dealing with her parents death. He decides to help her which is the start of a new adventure. The set up is nice and fitting. The later parts are weaker with some exceptions. I would say they try their best but could not reach the appropriate levels to make this a hit or like the first movie. It is not a failure more a case of to much use of the fast forward button for the viewer. Character wise we got good and bad performances. For Hilary Swank this was her first big role and breakthrough. She got recognition and many praised her performance. I agree to that as she fully delivered her role and is a highlight of the movie. Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi is a staple of the franchise. Always delivering a truly good performance. I cant remember a weak moment in all movies. I am divided for Michael Ironside as Paul Dugan. He does a good job but his character does not fit that good into the movie. Maybe a bit to overdone or cliche (or not enough if you go more into parody territory). I like the monks, Louisa Pierce played by Constance Towers and Michael Cavalieri as Ned Randall with some bad scenes. In total it is a solid performance but in combination with the script there are too many weaknesses. To be fair other were far more critical here and I see their points. Maybe I am far less critical but I can not prove that my opinion is more valuable than theirs and vice versa. Overall the movie was not strong enough to safe the franchise. I liked it but it has some weaknesses that drag it down. I think that I enjoy the two main characters saved the movie for me. I am however not sure if I can recommend it to others.
TL;DR: Is it a great movie, or it will go down in history as a classic? Hell no! Does it deliver, as a remake of a classic? More less. For this movie, Pat Morita got paired with Hilary Swank, instead of Ralph Macchio, which had paired with him during the 80's making one of the family friendly classics of the decade. Hilary Swank does her role without much of an hiccup (she acted way more convincingly than Ralph did), but the role is so weak it makes it hard to come above water. Pat Morita is Mr. Miyagi, and does Mr. Miyagi things, without anything fresh on the character.
The antagonists are a replica of the single minded ones from the 1st movie. And the story is, more less what you'd expect from The Karate Kid if it was done with a girl in mind for the "kid" role. It's full of clichés, it's overly long, and it's predictable, in all accounts.
Why a 5 then? It has some funny parts, it's a light family friendly movie, full of cliché good messages about friendship, goodness and life. Although as an original movie it fails in all accounts, as a remake, full of female empowering pitches for the teen girls it does its job, and although it seems it was recorded with '84 in mind, although being released one decade later, the message is timeless enough to be relevant in today standards still.
Not a must watch, but a pleasant watch for teen girls and boys alike.
The main character is a stereotypical teen girl. The main antagonists are the stereotypical overly creepy and misogynistic high-school boys in black leather jackets that try to win her by being aggressive against her. There are a couple scenes that make no sense at all and were probably just made to capitalize off of current trends at the time. Mr. Miyagi remains to be an enjoyable character, but that's about all I can give it.
I don't understand why this came about. If it was supposed to be a girl version or something. I don't know. But it was totally unnecessary. But I'll start with the good stuff. I love the Karate Kid series and I've seen the whole trilogy, and I've seen the Cobra Kai series, so I ended up picking this up to get the full thing. I don't regret it because I got to see Mr. Miyagi again, which was nice, but that's about it. The story was pretty much nothing for me. The location wasn't great either, although the monastery was still more interesting than Okinawa in my opinion, but still not much. I just don't get it. I take it that it was simply a case of milking the brand and they wanted to make some more money from the series. This was so unnecessary. For me, a bad movie that I don't recommend even to fans of the franchise.