The Next Karate Kid (1994)


I guess we all have to have our stumbling blocks to get to the top, and Hilary Swank has what is one of the more tepid reboots ever concocted. I’m not above a reboot of “Karate Kid” with a girl this time. I’d actually prefer a gender swap in the interest of a new character dynamic. It’s just sad that said reboot completely misses the point of the original film. And kind of drags Mr. Miyagi out from the eighties to deal with a frustratingly annoying main heroine this time around.

Swank plays petulant Julie, an orphan living with her aunt who is prone to rebellious acts of breaking in to school to take care of a wounded eagle. Man, she’s doing adolescence all wrong. Miyagi travels from California to Boston to attend a World War II ceremony, where he’s able to re-connect with an old ally. Which makes no real sense considering in earlier films Miyagi placed zero value on his war commendations. He even tells Daniel that a heart makes a hero, and a commendation just makes you lucky. Miyagi takes an interest in Julie, who is his friends’ granddaughter, and uses martial arts to curb her attitude and give her a sense of discipline. I was also never sure why Miyagi mocked Daniel for believing karate involving monks only for Miyagi to turn around and take Julie to a Monk monastery for training.

I like to think Daniel san left Miyagi for another sensei, and he spent the rest of life trying to spite Daniel by contradicting his own teaching. In either case, relocating Miyagi is boring enough, but Pat Morita, who reprises the role as Miyagi looks bored and kind of exhausted during the film. He barely even plays a role in what is supposed to be a student-mentor film. In reality it’s just a movie about a girl with a knack for karate who really loves a bird. The film’s worst crime is that it’s painfully mediocre and doesn’t do much with the original story or the timeline it sets down in the first three movies. There’s just nothing really remarkable about “The Next Karate Kid.” Everything about it, right down to the love story is just middling and bland.

Even Michael Ironside, who plays a sadistic Colonel prone to believing that his way of combat should be justified with zero mercy, is really just a half baked version of Kreese from the original film. Save for the very nineties soundtrack (gotta love the Cranberries), there’s nothing here that warrants a watch. Not even for the great Pat Morita. I’d also love to have known what happened to Daniel LaRusso and the affairs with Miyagi in his home land, but this is a pandering reboot for nineties teens, so Miyagi has even less of a presence than he did in the first movie. “The Next Karate Kid” is just an irrelevant foot note in the “Karate Kid” series that can be overlooked if only for being so vanilla. The third film is by far more unwatchable.