DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Christopher Cain
Hilary Swank, Pat Morita, Michael Ironside, Constance Towers, Chris Conrad, Arsenio 'Sonny' Trinidad, Michael Cavalieri, Walt Goggins
Writing Credits:
Robert Mark Kamen, Mark Lee

Who says the good guy has to be a guy?

Presenting the complete Karate Kid Collection, a rousing collection of four uplifting, coming-of-age adventures that will leave you cheering! Two teenagers learn important lessons in life, friendship and the art of self-defense from their wise mentor, Mr. Miyagi. Starring Ralph Macchio, Oscar®-nominated Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (Best Supporting Actor, The Karate Kid, 1984) and Academy Award®-winner Hillary Swank (Best Actress, Boys Don't Cry, 1999).

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$8.751 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $36.95
Release Date: 2/1/2005

• Trailers

Available only as part of The Karate Kid Collection


Mitsubishi WS65315 65" TV; Pioneer VSXD409 Home Theater Receiver; Sony DVP NC665P 5 Disc DVD player; KLH Home Theater Speakers


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Next Karate Kid: The Karate Kid Collection (1994)

Reviewed by Brian Ludovico (February 23, 2005)

Apparently, someone out there saw The Karate Kid III and thought, ‘Gee, that was cruddy, but it wasn’t quite absolute garbage. I think I can fix that!’ Oddly enough, none of those people were John Avildsen, the original trilogy’s director, Mark Robert Kamen, the writer, Ralph Macchio, the title character, or - perhaps most damning of all - Magnificent Martin Kove. These people must have heard that someone was trying to resurrect the franchise they’d stomped into the ground and thought better of being involved, because what ensued was a little project called The Next Karate Kid.

We rejoin our old friend Miyagi (Pat Morita, probably because he wasn’t getting calls for anything else) on the east coast this time, Boston specifically. The widow of an old war buddy of his is having a difficult time dealing with her granddaughter Julie (Hilary Swank). Julie’s parents were killed in a car accident, leaving her alone with the grandmother and a whole lot of anger and angst. Julie causes turmoil at home and she gets in trouble at school. Her grandmother is at the end of her rope. When Miyagi sees how much difficulty the girl and her grandmother are having and the strain on their relationship Julie’s inner rage is creating, he suggests a plan that’s either interesting or very disturbing.

He suggests that Julie’s grandmother leave the house and go take care of the serene gardens at Casa Miyagi back in southern California while he looks after Julie. Apparently, Julie’s grandmother agrees that it’s a great idea for her to leave her home indefinitely and leave her emotionally unstable, hormone-raging, attractive granddaughter in the care of a man she’s likely seen half a dozen times in her life. Where does Miyagi get the money to live and to support this child? Did he sell Mr. Miyagi’s Little Trees to his old life partner Daniel? We’ll never know, since Daniel-San is never mentioned in the film, a sign of this one completely disowning the former franchise, or vice versa. Guess it was a bitter break up.

It wouldn’t be a Karate Kid movie without the appearance of the Cobra Kai, right? Exactly. Everyone’s favorite pugnacious band of thugs and their immortal leader Kreese have been supplanted by a group even less credible and twice as cruel: the Alpha Elite. At least I could picture a Cobra Kai type of dojo actually existing in reality, led by some mildly deranged guy teaching his kids some questionable values. At least the Cobra Kai looked like kids. Not so with the Alpha Elite.

The Alpha Elite is apparently an extracurricular activity, like field hockey or the chess club, only this is a militia. Apparently their mandate is to keep the school in line by any means necessary, mainly through terrorizing and brutalizing the student body…and to stay in school until you’re at least 25, because I swear their leader Ned (Michael Cavalieri) doesn’t look a day under 30. Their leader is no Kove, either. They report to the sinister Colonel Doogan (Michael Ironsides, the poor man’s Kove) as he leads them in after school exercises like “Teacher Physically Pounds Students” and “Bungee Jump Into the Prom.” This is subsidized by taxpayers and approved by the superintendent? Can someone give viewers a little credit, please?

After Julie rebukes Ned’s advances and his romantic proposal to take her down to the docks, he wants vengeance. They set Julie up for a fall with a B&E rap when she tries to take care of the hawk she keeps on top of the school. I don’t know why she doesn’t just move it to her home but this is the last straw for Julie. Colonel Doogan issued an ultimatum to her, in front of the principal. She’s summarily suspended from school, and now she’s Miyagi’s problem.

Miyagi’s solution? Transport this minor who is not his relative to some mysterious Buddhist monastery. Here, he hopes Julie will learn serenity, focus, discipline and introspection through Eastern cultural influences and his karate lessons. Once again, we see that Westerners are painfully unfamiliar with regards to the Eastern culture, even when immersed in the surroundings. Julie will try to kill a living thing in the monk’s monastery, she’ll make all kinds of noise running through their garden, and perhaps most ridiculous of all, she’ll teach the monks to like The Cranberries. Why is it that any fish out of water story somehow features an American teaching some other cultures how to “boogie”?

When Julie returns to school, she faces her demons and triumphs over adversity, blah blah blah. Strangely enough, this doesn’t feature a signature karate move like the original films did, which leaves it feeling like an unpunctuated sentence. Okay, the praying like a praying mantis before striking the coup de grace is sort of a move, I guess, but it’s no power bitch slap. That’s not the real problem, though. The film - director Christopher Cain and writer Mark Lee specifically - sees fit to cram in ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation, including but not limited to monks driving to Boston, monks learning to bowl, Miyagi using the healing hands on a bird, Julie releasing the hawk into the wild, Miyagi teaching Julie to waltz using karate, Julie beating up a guy clearly 130 pounds bigger than her, Miyagi shopping for a dress, and a teacher condoning the destruction of a student’s car. I swear, my eyes actually got sore from rolling in disdain as often as they did.

If Karate Kid III is really just a direct-to-video movie, then The Next Karate Kid is a glorified after-school special. The performances are all one note, but that note doesn’t have the charm of even the third installment, much less the first two. Julie, her 34 year old love interest Eric (Chris Conrad), Doogan and his thugs are all just cardboard cutouts, completely one note and unfathomable as actual people. Downfalls like this one are the kind that force my brain into question mode, only exacerbating how frustratingly stupid this story is. Thankfully, everyone involved except for Swank, including Pat Morita, seems to have been banished by the movie gods to film’s version of the Phantom Zone: direct-to-basic-cable movies, where they belong.

Among the questions that started to arise about two thirds of the way through The Next Karate Kid, long after I’d realized that this was indeed an absolutely awful movie: what was the driving force behind this dirtloaf? What was the actual reason that it exists? I couldn’t imagine that it would be money, since it’s not like Karate Kid III cleaned up at the box office. It certainly wasn’t driven by narrative, as I can’t recall anyone saying “Whatever became of Daniel and Miyagi?” after the third film. It’s still a mystery, but feel free to play the game with yourself as you subject your poor eyes to this pathetic tripe.

Thank goodness this is the last Karate Kid.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

The Next Karate Kid appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this double-sided, double-layered DVD and have been anamorphically enhanced for 16X9 televisions.

The Next Karate Kid actually looks a little bit better then III from a video perspective, once again showing the benefits of the younger, less-viewed print, and also thanks in part to the fact that this installment has a more interesting scenery in the monastery. This one has a lot more daytime shots than any other film in the series. Clarity is just as good as we saw in III, but the greens and purples of the fields at the bucolic Buddhist monastery really liven up the color palette more than any other sequence in the entire set. I’m not saying the colors are as rich a, say, Mulholland Drive by any means. This still looks like a television program (rightfully so, as already mentioned), but the level of dirt and artifacting is still the lowest of the four movies.

Audio-wise, The Next Karate Kid is yet another example of a blasé “workmanlike” Dolby Surround 2.0 track. Unfortunately, we see a downturn in stereophonic effects thanks to a boring sound design. The best this film seems able to conjure up is a minor localization effect when the Alpha Elite blows up Eric’s car. Just citing that scene makes me vomit in my mouth - good lord this movie was horrible! Clarity is just fine without being exemplary, with dialogue reproduction taking center stage as usual. Even Bill Conti’s work sounds tired and like he’s walking through it, but at least the actual audio on it is CD-clear. Like I said with the last installment, I wish there was more material to mine here, more to opine on about the soundtrack, but there really just isn’t. It works - no less, no more.

Once again there’s very little in the extras department. Just the same trailers for The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid II. What, Swank wouldn’t do a feature length commentary? Too big for that now? Harumph.

Note that The Next Karate Kid - and its disc-mate The Karate Kid III - is only available as part of the three disc set “The Karate Kid Collection”, which also includes The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid II. It’s because of this condition that the millions of fans who loved The Karate Kid will also subject their DVD collections to the undeniable shame that is The Next Karate Kid. If this movie were sold on its own, the Amazon.com sales rank would probably be 104,311, and it would still be too high. I’d be shocked if consumers who don’t have kids ever watch The Next Karate Kid even once. Wait for it on The Hallmark Channel if you must. Otherwise, let it languish on your shelf and if you get angry about having to own it, remind yourself, “The grass is green, the sky is blue.” Yack.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3846 Stars Number of Votes: 13
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.