The Next Karate Kid
|The Next Karate Kid|
|Directed by||Christopher Cain|
|Produced by||Jerry Weintraub|
|Written by||Mark Lee|
|Based on||The Karate Kid|
by Robert Mark Kamen
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Edited by||Ronald Roose|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$15.8 million|
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 and the music, 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 named 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 unwelcome sexual advances on Julie.
When Julie survives almost being hit by a car by jumping into a tiger position, she finally learns to confide in Miyagi when he approves of Julie's talent. She reveals that she was taught karate by her father, who learned from her grandfather, Miyagi's student.
While trying to feed Angel one night, Julie is detected by the Alpha Elite who chase her through the school. Although she escapes them, she is arrested by the police and gets suspended for two weeks by Dugan. Miyagi uses this time to take Julie to a Buddhist monastery to teach her the true ways of karate and how to handle her anger issues. Julie learns through direct lessons about balance, coordination, awareness and respect for all life. She befriends the monks, who eventually host a birthday party for her, giving her a cake and an arrow that Miyagi had caught in mid-flight in a demonstration of Zen archery. They also concede to her wish that they visit her in Boston, where they go bowling with Miyagi. A local player challenges them, loses the match, and accepts their tutelage in how to bowl a strike blind.
Upon returning to school, Julie discovers that Angel was found by Ned who reported her to animal control. Miyagi assists Julie in releasing the bird back to the wild, using the pain suppression technique from the first film to heal Angel's wing. In preparation for the school prom, Miyagi teaches Julie how to dance, and purchases her a dress. Julie goes to the prom with Eric, but under the orders of Dugan, the Alpha Elite bungee jump in. When one of the members breaks his arm, Eric shows concern, but Ned tells him to mind his own business.
Eric drives Julie home and kisses her. Ned follows them, and smashes Eric's car windows with a baseball bat. Ned challenges Eric to a fight at the docks, and is joined there by Dugan and the Alpha Elite. They set fire to Eric's car and severely beat him, but Eric is saved by Julie and Miyagi.
Ned tries to grab Julie, but she challenges him to a fight. She holds her own, using the karate she has learned, even when Ned throws sand in her face. Julie defeats Ned and turns her back on him. Dugan bullies the rest of the group to continue the fight, but they refuse. Miyagi challenges Dugan to fight and wins, leading the Alpha Elite to abandon their leader. The film concludes with Angel flying freely above the water.
- Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce
- Noriyuki "Pat" Morita as Mr. Miyagi
- Michael Ironside as Colonel Paul Dugan
- Constance Towers as Louisa Pierce
- Chris Conrad as Eric McGowen
- Michael Cavalieri as Ned Randall
- Tom Downey as Morgan
- Walton Goggins as Charlie
- Frank Welker as Angel the Hawk (voice)
- Arsenio 'Sonny' Trinidad as Abbot Monk
- Daniel Inouye as Senator
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 $90.8 million for the original, $115.1 million for Part II, $38.9 million for Part III, and $171.8 million for the 2010 Karate Kid.
The film was released on DVD on August 28, 2001. A manufacture-on-demand Blu-ray release was released on September 6, 2016, as part of Sony's Choice Collection. It was later reissued as a “double feature” Blu-ray with The Karate Kid Part III by Mill Creek Entertainment on January 8, 2019.
To date, there has been no mention of The Next Karate Kid or its characters on the franchise-continuing television series Cobra Kai, but series creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg have acknowledged that the film does take place in the fictional "Miyagi-verse". Hurwitz has confirmed that the writing team has discussed bringing back Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce at some point in the series.
"We always say that our show takes place in the Miyagi-verse," Hurwitz told CinemaBlend in December 2020. "In our minds, any story in which Mr. Miyagi was a character, with Pat Morita playing Mr. Miyagi I should say, is canon to our world. The Next Karate Kid is a part of our universe. We believe that the events of that movie happened...In terms of that movie, it has its pluses and minuses. One of the things that’s really special about it is it's very early work for Hilary Swank and she’s gone on to be one of the great actors in Hollywood. Her performance is great in that movie and her chemistry with Pat Morita is fantastic."
- "'Last': A Clear Remembrance of 'Karate Kid' Past". Los Angeles Times. 1994-09-12. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- The Next Karate Kid at Rotten Tomatoes
- "The Next Karate Kid Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Karate Kid" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- Holden, Stephen (September 10, 1994). "Wise Karate Master Gives Cram Course in Lovableness". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- Garrett, Diane (February 6, 2005). "The Karate Kid Collection (3 Discs $36.95)". Variety. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- Gray, Brandon (2010). "Franchises: The Karate Kid". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
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