The Next Karate Kid (1994)

5.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Swank gives an ok performance

Weak story, bad ending

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Next Karate Kid

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Martial Arts/Drama/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 12, 1994

MPAA Rating:  PG


Everybody was kung fu fighting!

Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank) is dealing with the death of her parents and attending a tough military school. When her grandfather dies, her grandmother decides she needs time off and leaves Julie to be watched over by the family friend Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). While Julie tries to nurse an injured hawk named Angel back to health, she finds herself the target of Colonel Dugan (Michael Ironside) and his student “soldiers”. Mr. Miyagi decides Julie must be trained to bring balance to her life, and Julie tries to heal the sadness that is tearing her world apart.


You’re my Angel!

Directed by Christopher Cain, The Next Karate Kid is sometimes known as The Karate Kid IV. Following The Karate Kid, Part III in 1989, The Next Karate Kid served as a relaunch of the series. The film was met with criticism and essentially killed the franchise.

Despite being a critical failure, the low budget movie still made a meager profit. It also was seen as a positive “breakthrough”role for Hilary Swank who went on to win Best Actress Oscars for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby. Despite being a bad film, I think the film might be a bit better than the so-bad-it’s-good The Karate Kid, Part III.


Who’s next!?! Oh yeah, I’m “next”.

The Next Karate Kid is marred by a really bad plot. Julie is harassed by male bullies, finds a boyfriend, discovers inner peace, and proves herself in battle. Unfortunately, the movie has no energy or goal (like a tournament or just playing old honor). It also has a strange unbalanced humor/action aspect that doesn’t feel as defined or natural as the other Karate Kid films.

Both Pat Morita and Hilary Swank don’t have much to work with in this film. Morita’s Mr. Miyagi is getting pretty old and seems to even know less English then in the first Karate Kid. I also hate that other than a brief reference to watching over a boy, there is no mention of Daniel…they could have at least had a write off line about what happened to him. I do like some of the difference between Miyagi and Julie versus when he was with Daniel and the challenges that a girl brings. Michael Ironside is his typical angry, evil self as Colonel Dugan and the bullies and boyfriend Eric (Chris Conrad) are all rather generic.


You shall not pass!

Another difference with The Next Karate Kid is a bit more sinister. Opposed to the first films where Danny faces beatings, it feels like here that Swank’s character is in more physical danger. When the gang is after her, I don’t feel like they just want to beat her up and that it easy turn into a version of The Accused…minus the pinball table. It is a little unsettling and makes this film feel a bit more dangerous…but it also leads to a very anticlimactic fight at the end between both Swank and the lead bully Ned (Michael Cavalieri) and Miyagi and Dugan. It just isn’t excited.

The Next Karate Kid isn’t very good, but I still think it is better than the super-over acted Karate Kid, Part III. If the plot was a bit better, this movie might have been better. Instead, it feels like the movie really loses something…be it from the goofy monks and their bowling or the tired “training”plot, The Next Karate Kid just doesn’t make the jump like Julie. The Next Karate Kid was followed by The Karate Kid remake in 2010.

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Related Links:

The Karate Kid (1984)

The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)

The Karate Kid, Part III (1989)

The Karate Kid (2010)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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