The Next Karate Kid Review: Lost Spirit

Continuing my coverage of The Karate Kid franchise, I took a look at the last movie featuring Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid. The movie wasn’t well received and during my watch, I believe I got my finger on what exactly went wrong in the fourth movie in the franchise.

The Next Karate Kid was a good idea on paper. Like today’s new take on the Rocky franchise, the fourth Karate Kid movie was set to make a new prodigy played by Hillary Swank. It appealed to a new audience and attempted to set up another leg of the Karate Kid franchise.

But the movie fails to hit the same note the original three movies do well. First, Julie Pierce, Swank’s character, isn’t the underdog that Daniel LaRusso was. LaRusso was poor and moved to a new place. Pierce lost her parents and lived with her grandmother in The Next Karate Kid. While Pierce and her situation is more tragic, it isn’t executed like LaRusso and his situation is.

The Good of The Next Karate Kid

The Next Karate Kid is not all bad. There were some genuinely good moments. The Buddhist monks in the movie were a fun part. Traveling to Boston and hustling a rude local in bowling was a fun moment and got a good chuckle out of me.

Swank was unlikeable early on but her coming around was a good development. Mr. Miyagi treating her different than LaRusso in more of a daughter aspect is a good way to see a new side of Miyagi.

The bad outweighs the good

Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good in The Next Karate Kid. As prior mentioned, I feel the movie lost the spirit of the original movies. The bad guy, the group of bad guys weren’t very convincing. They were bad, sure but why? Because Dugan was a jerk in general? I don’t buy it.

The movie tried to give the karate feel with the monks but didn’t really deliver. Instead of a movie about karate, it seemed karate took a back seat to the story instead of it being the story.

The movie really seemed like a second installment in a series and the studio forgot to release the first movie.

Overall ranking: 5/10

I love the Karate Kid franchise. With the release of Cobra Kai, I fell back in love with the series. But The Next Karate Kid was a movie I forgot about for good reason. It’s simply not memorable. Most of the time, the only time anyone remember The Next Karate Kid is when someone goes and buys all of the Karate Kid movies in a bundle.

The problem with The Next Karate Kid is that it tries to be what it was but too different. The new directors doesn’t get the tone of the original trilogy. It would have been a much better movie if you ditch Miyagi and the Karate Kid name and been it’s own thing.


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