a critiQal film review The Karate Kid, Part III (1989)

  • DVD

Plot: When Mr. Miyagi (Morita) refuses to train Daniel (Macchio) to defend his All Valley Championship trophy, Daniel goes to newcomer Terry Silver (Griffith) for instruction - but what Daniel doesn't know is that Terry is conspiring with Daniel's old nemesis John Kreese (Kove) to set Daniel up for a terrible fall.

635 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 10s)

When I first started reviewing the Karate Kid series after hearing a remake is hitting theaters in 2010, I didn’t think there were that many movies, in fact, I only remembered 3: The Karate Kid (1984), The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and some movie starring Hilary Swank which I couldn’t remember the name of (turns out it’s The Next Karate Kid).

So imagine my surprise when, after visiting my local Blockbuster®, I found out there was another movie I’d never even heard of in the series: The Karate Kid Part III! So, was there a reason I hadn’t heard of this one before, or had I accidentally discovered a hidden gem in the series?

Ralph Macchio is starting to get a little weird. While there was a noticeable difference in his age between the first two films, he looks identical in this third film – albeit a little heavier. No worries about losing that boyish image, apparently, since he seems to have stopped growing. While that seems a bit odd, it actually fits in a lot better with the storyline, which apparently takes place just 9 months after The Karate Kid Part II (1986) (since the second film took place supposedly only 3 months after the original – and yet Daniel matured a couple of years’ worth – it works a whole lot better this time around).

Unfortunately, that’s about all Ralphie has going for him in this third film. This time around, he doesn’t even get a girlfriend – just a friend who’s a girl, played without fanfare by Robyn Lively. Their “friendship” is laughable from the get-go, and goes absolutely nowhere – in fact, she seems to get along better with Mr. Miyagi than with Daniel. Gone then is the fresh innocence of those awkward first dating steps that were so enjoyable in the other two films (if becoming more and more implausible), leaving Daniel to spend the majority of his time fuming and ranting on-screen without a female companion to tone him down – or capture the viewer’s attention.

While the second film was able to let the viewer peek into the mysterious past of Daniel’s teacher, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), this time around he’s barely in the picture, as Daniel ventures off on his own. He pops up on occasion to offer some Confucious-like advice as usual, and comes through when needed, but for the most part he’s just background noise this time around – another major disappointment.

The villain this time around, Thomas Ian Griffith, reverts to something less than the laughable villains from the first film. While he’s more devious, his ridiculously see-through act and Joker-like laughter leave a lot to be desired – as does his screen presence, making him a villain worthy of starring in a spoof of The Karate Kid (1984), rather than a sequel.

In fact, the whole film is set up all wrong. Since the film leads the viewer step-by-step through the nefarious evil plans this newcomer has in store – and that right in the beginning of the film – there’s nothing in it to surprise them (at least in a positive way), and the viewer just manages to hang on to see when Daniel and Miyagi discover the sordid truth behind this new person.

Unfortunately, that journey this time around is not worth taking with this duo, and despite the cheese factor now being attributed to the first two films thanks to the ravages of time, it’s still a sad ending for the Daniel/Miyagi team. Toss in some unexplained absences (most notably Miyagi’s love interest Yukie in The Karate Kid Part II (1986), who is not mentioned even once the entire film), and this film just goes from bad to worse.

After seeing The Karate Kid Part III, it’s no wonder I’d never heard of this dud in the series before – and right about now, I’m wishing I’d stayed oblivious.

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