The Next Karate Kid

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The Next Karate Kid
The next karate kid.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChristopher Cain
Produced byJerry Weintraub
Written byMark Lee
Based onCharacters created
by Robert Mark Kamen
StarringNoriyuki "Pat" Morita
Hilary Swank
Michael Ironside
Music byBill Conti
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited byRonald Roose
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • September 9, 1994 (1994-09-09)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million
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 Pat Morita and Hilary Swank. It is the fourth and final film in The Karate Kid film series. It was directed by Christopher Cain, written by Mark W. Lee, and produced by Jerry Weintraub, with music by Bill Conti. It is the only 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, 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 teenage girl 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, whom she names 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 stays 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, Dugan. The leader (and Dugan's toughest, strongest, and most aggressive student) is the short-fused Ned, who makes repeated unsuccessful sexual advances on Julie. Eric learns of Angel and promises to feed her while Julie is with Miyagi.

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.

The next time Julie sneaks into the school to feed Angel, she is detected by the Alpha Elite, and chased through the school. Julie hides in the cafeteria until Ned finds her, at which point she hits a fire alarm with her backpack so Ned would let go of her. Escaping the school, she is arrested by the police and gets suspended for two weeks by Colonel 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 several monks, including the Grand Abbot. The monks host a birthday party for her, giving her a cake and an arrow that Miyagi had caught while it was in flight in a demonstration of Zen archery, as well as conceding to her wish that they visit her in Boston. (They visit during Julie's school prom, where they go bowling with Miyagi. A local player racistly challenges them, loses the match to impossible odds, and accepts their tutelage in how to bowl a strike blind.)

Upon Julie returning to school, she discovers that Angel was relocated at some point to the animal sanctuary; 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 prom, Miyagi teaches Julie how to dance, and purchases her a dress. Julie goes to the prom with Eric, but under the orders of Colonel 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 by Colonel 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; Colonel Dugan bullies the rest of the group to continue the fight, but they refuse. Miyagi challenges Colonel Dugan to fight and wins, leaving the Alpha Elite disappointed in their instructor. The film concludes with Angel flying freely above the water.


Reception [edit]

The Next Karate Kid has been critically panned.[1] However, many critics praised Swank, and it is still considered to be her break-out performance. The films consensus on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes is "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." The film received an approval rating of only 7% based on 27 reviews.[2] 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."[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]

Home media[edit]

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.


  1. ^ "'Last': A Clear Remembrance of 'Karate Kid' Past". Los Angeles Times. 1994-09-12. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
  2. ^ The Next Karate Kid at Rotten Tomatoes
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (September 10, 1994). "Wise Karate Master Gives Cram Course in Lovableness". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  4. ^ Garrett, Diane (February 6, 2005). "The Karate Kid Collection (3 Discs $36.95)". Variety. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
  5. ^ Gray, Brandon (2010). "Franchises: The Karate Kid". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-07-31.

External links[edit]