'The Karate Kid III & The Next Karate Kid'
(Pat Morita, Ralph Macchio, Hilary Swank, Robyn Lively, Thomas Ian Griffith, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1989/1994) 2018 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: It's a karate combo as the 3rd and 4th installments of the successfully 'Karate Kid' franchise are paired together in one nostalgic Blu-ray collection!
Blu-ray Verdict: In 'The Karate Kid - Part III' (1989), Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) take up where they left off, returning from Okinawa and hoping for a peaceful life in their bonsai shop.
But their serenity is shattered when Daniel is blackmailed into competing against the vicious "Bad Boy of Karate", Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan).
'The Karate Kid - Part III' is a film that when looked at again today reminds you of how great the '80s were. No CGI, no massive budget, no massive stars, just good old fashioned entertainment where Daniel LaRusso yet again succeeds against all the odds.
OK, sure, this film is not perfect by any means. It has a fairly weak story and some poor dialogue and character motivations are somewhat unbelievable.
Don't the villains have anything better to do with their time than to harass our hero into entering the tournament. does it really mean that much to them to get Daniel to fight. Come on, get a life guys!
As has been stated down the years, the love interest here is pointless because their relationship goes nowhere. They decide to be friends because she has an on/off boyfriend.
In fact, it seems her only purpose here is to hang out with Daniel and eat macaroni cheese with him! Not exactly Romeo and Juliet. Heck, it's not even Bert and Ernie!
However, in my opinion, the positives just about outweigh the negatives. Mr. Miyagi is yet again the strongest link, adding his usual mix of humor and wisdom in equal doses.
As his friendship with Daniel slowly disintegrates, you really feel for him as the sadness washes over his face, that his surrogate son is for the first time against him and not with him.
Mike Barnes is a good foe for Daniel. You can really believe that he is Karate's so-called bad boy as his PR make him out to be. You believe that Mike could and does kick Daniel's ass at almost every opportunity.
He is much more threatening and abusive than previous opponents, that's for damn sure. As for the bounty attached to this fight, well, if Daniel doesn't fight, Mike wins the tournament and Mr. Silver throws out his mustard colored cobra Kai shirts; drawing kids into his dojo's.
In closing, the music in this film is beautiful. Bill Conti, in all three movies has done some of his best work. The music that plays over Daniel's Kata training is tranquil and memorable. The music that plays over Daniel's final bout leaves goosebumps all over your body. Well matched for a really decent film, no matter what you've heard down the years, trust me!
In 'The Next Karate Kid'' (1994), Mr. Miyagi is back and he takes a new pupil under his wing, troubled teenager Julie Pierce (Oscar®-winner Hillary Swank) who learns to control the grief and anger from the loss of her parents with the discipline of karate.
For once a sequel to 'The Karate Kid' without Ralph Macchio! Hilary Swank did an excellent job playing the orphan Julie Pierce. Pat Morita aka Mr. Miyagi is back and working his ways with Julie quite differently from Daniel.
Both Daniel and Julie favored karate. Unlike Daniel, Julie was the most surly person Miyagi ever challenged, but there is tournament to have to compete in here.
In this chapter, Mr. Miyagi (Morita) attends a WWII ceremony in Boston, MA honoring him and his late friend. He visits his friend's widow, Louisa (Towers) and meets her granddaughter, Julie (Swank).
He notices that Julie is angry because her parents are dead and takes her anger out on Louisa. He asks Louisa to spend time in his house in California while he helps Julie.
He takes Julie under his wing teaching her karate to defend herself against bullies in school and regain her self-confidence. Julie also meets Eric (Conrad), a boy in school who's a cadet for the air force and they fall for each other.
Eric and Julie face the same bullies in league with Col. Dugan (Ironside) who's a war nut. This is a pretty good sequel, Morita and Swank are great together and Bill Conti's score is excellent, as usual.
I highly recommend these films, now presented here on this wonderful double feature Blu-ray, out January 8th, 2019 via Mill Creek Entertainment. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.