The Karate Kid Part III

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The Karate Kid Part III
Karate kid part III.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn G. Avildsen
Written byRobert Mark Kamen
Based onCharacters created
by Robert Mark Kamen
Produced byJerry Weintraub
CinematographySteve Yaconelli
Edited by
Music byBill Conti
Distributed byColumbia Pictures[1]
Release date
  • June 30, 1989 (1989-06-30) (U.S.)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$12.5 million[2]
Box office$38.9 million[3]

The Karate Kid Part III is a 1989 American martial arts drama film, the third entry in the Karate Kid franchise and a sequel to The Karate Kid Part II (1986). It stars Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively, and Thomas Ian Griffith in his film debut. As was the case with the first two films in the series, it was directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, with stunts choreographed by Pat E. Johnson and music composed by Bill Conti. In the film, the returning John Kreese, with the help of his best friend Terry Silver, attempts to gain revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi which involves hiring a ruthless martial artist and harming their relationship.

Though moderately successful at the box office, The Karate Kid Part III received generally negative reviews, with criticism aimed at its rehashing of elements found in its two predecessors, though Griffith's performance as Silver received praise from some critics. It was followed by The Next Karate Kid in 1994.


In September 1985, John Kreese, broke and destitute after the loss of his students due to the events in the first film, visits his Vietnam War comrade, Terry Silver. He vows to personally help him get revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi and re-establish Cobra Kai. Silver sends Kreese to Tahiti to relax and hires Mike Barnes, a vicious karate prospect, to challenge Daniel at the upcoming All-Valley Karate Tournament.

Upon returning to Los Angeles from Okinawa, Daniel and Miyagi discover that the South Seas apartment complex is being renovated, leaving Miyagi unemployed and Daniel homeless. Using his college funds to help finance Miyagi's dream of opening a bonsai shop, Miyagi makes him a partner in the business.

Visiting the pottery store across the street, Daniel meets Jessica Andrews and they become friends. Barnes and his henchmen Snake and Dennis harass Daniel several times to enter the tournament, and even steal the bonsai trees from Miyagi's shop.

To replace the missing trees, Daniel and Jessica decide to dig up and sell a valuable bonsai tree that Miyagi brought from Okinawa. As they retrieve it, Barnes and his henchmen appear and retract the climbing ropes, leaving Daniel no choice but to sign up for the tournament. He asks Miyagi to train him for the upcoming tournament, but he refuses due to his principles.

Silver offers to "train" Daniel for the tournament at the Cobra Kai dojo with a series of brutal, violent, and offensive techniques, which alienate him from Miyagi and cause him to violently attack a stranger and break his nose. Daniel apologizes and makes amends with Jessica and Miyagi. He then visits Silver to tell him he will not compete at the tournament, but he discloses his true agenda as Barnes and Kreese (whom Silver previously claimed to Daniel was dead) appear. Miyagi intervenes and easily defeats him, Silver, and Barnes. Then, he finally agrees to train Daniel.

At the tournament, Barnes reaches the final round to challenge Daniel. Silver and Kreese instruct Barnes to inflict serious damage on Daniel, and gains the upper hand during the fight while taunting Daniel relentlessly, leading to sudden death. When the initial round concludes, Daniel wants to quit, but Mr. Miyagi urges him to continue, saying that his best karate is still inside of him. With this encouragement, Daniel performs the Kata, and strikes Barnes to win the tournament.



Robert Mark Kamen had originally wanted The Karate Kid Part III to be a prequel with the two main leads still involved. The original plot would have involved Daniel and Mr. Miyagi traveling to 16th century China in a dream and meeting Miyagi's ancestors.[4][5] Kamen envisioned the sequel to resemble a Hong Kong-style Wuxia film, and would also have a female protagonist.[5] However, the producers balked at the idea and Kamen was reluctant on rehashing "the same story all over again"; he only returned after the studio agreed to pay him substantially more.[4]

After Robyn Lively was cast as Jessica Andrews in The Karate Kid Part III in 1988, producers were forced to modify her role of protagonist Daniel LaRusso's new love interest because Lively was only 16 at the time of filming and still a minor, while Ralph Macchio was 27 (although his character Daniel is 18). This situation caused romantic scenes between Jessica and Daniel to be rewritten so that the pair only developed a close friendship.[6]

John Kreese was initially intended to have a larger role in the film, but due to Martin Kove’s filming schedule conflicts with Hard Time on Planet Earth, the character of Terry Silver was written into the script.[7]

The film featured the same crew from the first two films, except for two key people: executive producer R.J. Louis, who was replaced by Sheldon Schrager, and cinematographer James Crabe, who was forced to pull out due to the AIDS virus making him severely ill at the time, was replaced by Steve Yaconelli. On May 2, 1989, Crabe died from AIDS at the age of 57; the film was dedicated to his memory.


The film was released in the United States on June 30, 1989. In the Philippines, the film was released on September 6, 1989.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 15% based on 33 reviews and an average rating of 3.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Inspiration is in short supply in this third Karate Kid film, which recycles the basic narrative from its predecessors but adds scenery-chewing performances and a surprising amount of violence".[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

Roger Ebert, who praised the first two films, did not enjoy Part III.[12] His colleague, Gene Siskel, also did not recommend the film, though he commended the performance of Thomas Ian Griffith, which he thought was nearly enough to save it.[13] Critic Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated that "writer Robert Mark Kamen gave director Avildsen and his cast too little to work with".[14]

Caryn James of The New York Times was critical of the lack of character development for the film's protagonist, saying that he "has aged about a year in movie time and hasn't become a day smarter" and criticized the film for having "the rote sense of film makers trying to crank out another moneymaker."[15]

A 2008 DVD review of the film from Scott Weinberg of the website JoBlo said it was the installment of the series "where the wheels started to come off", remarking that it "approaches the Karate Kid formula as if it's the world's last home-cooked meatloaf", deriding the "cartoonishness" of the villains, and saying that "it all feels cynical and hollow...which is NOT the vibe we still get from Part 1."[16] Reviewing a 2001 UK DVD of the film, Almar Haflidason of the BBC praised the disc's picture and sound quality, but dismissed the film as a "desperate continuation of 'The Karate Kid' franchise [which] shudders to a pathetic halt" and criticized its loss of "any warmth of the previous two films".[17]

In 2015, director John G. Avildsen called the film "a horrible imitation of the original...hastily written and sloppily rewritten", [18] adding that it "will baffle those who haven't seen the first two (movies) and insult those who have".[19] Ralph Macchio was also disappointed with the film, stating that he "just felt for the LaRusso character he never went forward" and that when doing The Karate Kid Part III it "felt like we were redoing the first movie in a cartoon kind of a sense without the heart and soul".[20]

At the 1989 Golden Raspberry Awards, this entry received five nominations but did not win any of them.[citation needed] They are for Worst Picture (Jerry Weintraub; lost to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), Worst Screenplay (Robert Mark Kamen; lost to Harlem Nights by Eddie Murphy), Worst Director (John G. Avildsen; lost to William Shatner for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), Worst Actor (Ralph Macchio; lost to William Shatner in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), and Worst Supporting Actor (Pat Morita; lost to Christopher Atkins in Listen to Me).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c "The Karate Kid Part III". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  2. ^ "The Karate Kid Part III (1989)". December 30, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Karate Kid Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "What was the original plot of The Karate Kid Part III?". 2012.
  5. ^ a b "The Karate Kid Part III We'll Never See". December 30, 2021.
  6. ^ Below the Belt Show (October 25, 2017). "Below the Belt Show: Interview: Actress Robyn Lively from Teen Witch and Karate Kid III (10/25/17)". Player FM. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  7. ^ "Karate Kid & Cobra Kai Stars William Zabka & Martin Kove at Niagara Falls Comic Con 2019". YouTube. Convention Junkies. Event occurs at 17:16. Archived from the original on October 24, 2021. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  8. ^ "Grand Opening Today". Manila Standard. Kagitingan Publications, Inc. September 6, 1989. p. 26. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  9. ^ "The Karate Kid Part III (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  10. ^ "The Karate Kid Part III Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  11. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Karate Kid" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (June 30, 1989). "The Karate Kid Part III Movie Review (1989)". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  13. ^ " Is For Sale".
  14. ^ Thomas, Kevin (June 30, 1989). "Movie Review: An Anemic Outing for 'Karate Kid Part III'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2010.
  15. ^ James, Caryn (June 30, 1989). "Review/Film; 'Karate Kid' Enters Round 3". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  16. ^ "The Karate Kid Collection | DVD Reviews". JoBlo. Archived from the original on January 17, 2008. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  17. ^ Almar Haflidason. "Films - review - The Karate Kid Part III DVD". BBC. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  18. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About KarateKid3". YouTube. September 15, 2020. Retrieved May 20, 2022.
  19. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Karate Kid Q&A W/Director John G Avildsen & Cast Part 2". YouTube.
  20. ^ "The Reason Ralph Macchio Disliked One of the Karate Kid Films". February 2, 2021.

External links[edit]