The Next Karate Kid
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids will see recurring, vengeful beatings and hear a moderate smattering of "hells" and "damns." As throughout the Karate Kid series, fighting is presented as the solution to most conflicts/problems. There's also reckless driving, bungee jumping, overtones of teen sexual harassment, and lots of showdowns. But Julie is also ultimately a strong female character who learns to believe in herself.
What's the story?
In this installment of the series, karate master Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) leaves his California home to attend a ceremony honoring WWII veterans like himself. There he meets the widow of an old army buddy whose orphaned 17-year-old granddaughter, Julie (Hilary Swank), is in perpetual trouble at her Boston high school. Miyagi thinks he can help. At school Julie is stalked by a bullying gang of athletes. At a Buddhist monastery, Miyagi teaches the rebellious girl self-esteem and self-defense. He even shows her how to dance, in preparation for the upcoming prom. Julie is a changed person now. But the jock bullies are not. Under orders from their coach, they crash the prom and later beat Julie's boyfriend. Enter Julie and Miyagi; she uses her karate to defeat the lead bully, while Mr. Miyagi trashes the cruel adult.
Is it any good?
Eager-to-please material offers an unsuccessful mix of warm relationships, stark brutality and hit 1990s rock songs. A couple of charming moments, like the dance-teaching scene, are undermined by a predictable, violence ridden story. "I don't think you know anything about girls!" bleats a reckless female teenager, being straightened out by the martial-arts wisdom of a kindly old Japanese karate master. Folks behind this movie don't seem to know much about girls. Or boys. Or grownups. But they sure know how to stage a fight.
The gender change does this Karate Kid sequel little good. In fact, it adds a disturbing sexual threat when the slavering jocks chase Julie through the deserted high school at night. Newcomer Hilary Swank and most of her fellow high schoolers all look to be in their mid-20s. The gentle, cross-cultural, cross-generational friendship between Miyagi and his new student is undercut by inevitable brawls. Whether with creeps in the classroom (just what young viewers need, more images of black-clad school predators) or rednecks at a gas station, fisticuffs are never far off.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how violence is depicted in the movie. Could the charaters have solved their problems in other ways?
Is fighting ever the right response to conflict?
Is Julie a good role model? Why or why not?
|Theatrical release date:||August 12, 1994|
|DVD release date:||August 28, 2001|
|Cast:||Hilary Swank, Michael Ironside, Pat Morita|
|Topics:||Sports and martial arts, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs|
|Run time:||107 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||violence and some mild language|