The Next Karate Kid
By Charles Cassady Jr.,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Violent '90s sequel doesn't measure up to original.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Mr. Miyagi teaches that fighting isn't something to seek out or be proud of, but only something to use when all other options have been tried. Along with a group of Zen monks, Miyagi also teaches patience and kindness to all living things.
Positive Role Models
Julie emerges as a strong female character who stands up to a vicious bully who has sexually harassed her at school; she also begins to learn healthy ways of dealing with the untimely deaths of her parents. Mr. Miyagi attends a military reunion of Japanese-American veterans who fought in World War II; the speaker talks of their tremendous bravery in battle even as many Japanese-Americans were being forced to live in internment camps. But the other authority figures of the school and town are either clueless or too intimidated to put a stop to the bullying tactics of a coach and the most elite members of his team -- students who engage in bullying and sexual harassment and view violence as the best way to solve problems.
Violence & Scariness
The antagonists viciously punch and kick the love interest of the lead character and also blow up his beloved muscle car. Shortly before this, the lead antagonist shatters the car's windows while the boy is dropping off Julie after the prom. Julie is sexually harassed by one of the bad guys: He grabs her, pulls her close, and tells her how he wants her to meet him at "the docks." Miyagi is forced to defend himself against drunks at a gas station: He turns the guys against each other, causing one man to knock out the other with a tire iron. A student appears to have broken his arm after bungee jumping from the gym rafters to crash the prom.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk of kissing. A girl's back/bra is seen when someone opens the door on her while she's changing.
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"Hell" used several times. "Damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer and wine drinking. Julie gets in trouble for bringing a pack of cigarettes to school.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Next Karate Kid is a 1994 sequel in which a young Hilary Swank learns the ways of Mr. Miyagi's memorable teachings. The "Cobra Kai" of this movie is a violent group of alpha males who dominate their high school through bullying and beatdowns encouraged by an aggressively militant coach. Julie is sexually harassed by one of these guys, and while she's sent to the principal for having cigarettes in her purse, he suffers no consequences. One fight scene is extremely violent: A character is punched and kicked by several of the bad guys as his car is set on fire and explodes. In another scene, Miyagi is forced to defend himself and Julie when a group of drunks try to bully them; Miyagi turns these guys against each other, resulting in one guy knocking out the other with a tire iron to the head. However, there isn't very much actual karate in the movie. The few fight scenes are separated by lengthy sequences in which Zen Buddhist monks and Miyagi meditate, dance to a Cranberries song, and use Zen to win at bowling. It's worth mentioning that Miyagi is one of several Japanese-American veterans of World War II who are honored in a ceremony; the speaker at the event speaks of their bravery and valor, even as Japanese-Americans were being forced into internment camps.
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The Next Karate Kid
Based on 5 parent reviews
Best of the Mr. Miyagi movies!
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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?
It's eager to please, but this sequel 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 grown-ups. 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 or drunks at a gas station, fisticuffs are never far off.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Miyagi's philosophy concerning fighting. Do most movie heroes share this attitude?
How does this movie compare to the original Karate Kid movie?
How does this movie address issues of bullying and sexual harassment?
- In theaters: August 12, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: August 28, 2001
- Cast: Hilary Swank, Michael Ironside, Pat Morita
- Director: Christopher Cain
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Friendship
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence and some mild language
- Last updated: June 1, 2023
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