Plot: What’s it about?
Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) has been invited to defend his karate championship, but at Mr. Miyagi’s request, he has decided not to enter the tournament. You see, Miyagi (Pat Morita) wants Daniel’s martial arts use to mean something, not to just be an excuse to win a trophy or what not. If Daniel was fighting for his life or his pride, then he would train him in a second, but this is just a tournament, so he tells Daniel to skip it and he agrees, though with some reluctance. But someone wants Daniel to enter no matter what, so that he will be forced to fight Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), a brutal fighter with a taste for blood. The man who is behind the whole plan is Terry (Thomas Ian Griffith), a rich Vietnam veteran who is best friends with John Kreese (Martin Kove). Terry wants to avenge Kreese’s defeats and he plans to do so through Daniel, by taking him from Miyagi’s side. But will Terry be able to trick Daniel into enduring harsh training and harassment from Barnes, or will he see the truth and choose to remain with Miyagi?
This is the third and final run for Daniel-San and while it is the weakest of his trio, it still offers fans some enjoyable moments. I like how the story returns to elements from the first film and explores them, such as Kreese’s life outside of his dojo. The new characters are decent enough and of course, Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita give us more of the same, which is good in a series like this one, I think. I suppose ideas had begun to wear thin for the story here and it shows, but the writing is more than solid and though predictable, I assume we all expect that, given the previous installments in this series. It is humorous to see Daniel as such a loose cannon at times, then be sorry and try to smooth it over, I think it adds to his character and his poor decision making skills, which he has shown time and again. In the end, this movie won’t be remembered as a classic, but if you’re a fan of the series, then by all means, give this disc a rental and see what you think. I would recommend a purchase, but Columbia/Tristar has put minimal effort into this release and as such, that leaves me little choice but to opt to recommend it as a rental.
His role is a new one in the series, but Thomas Ian Griffith is a memorable force in this film, to be sure. His yuppie persona is very humorous, especially when he begins to get vile and sneaky, very cool indeed. I do think Griffith takes it over the top almost all the time, but it works well and I think it adds to the character, which is always welcome. I love his tirades on Daniel and as the movie moves ahead, he seems to get more and more insane, which is good also. His performance is not a great one by any means, but it is very entertaining and he provides a cool foe for our heroes, which is what he was supposed to do. You can also see Griffith in such films as Hollow Point, Kull the Conqueror, Excessive Force, Behind Enemy Lines, and John Carpenter’s Vampires. The cast also includes Ralph Macchio (The Outsiders, Can’t Be Heaven), Pat Morita (King Cobra, Savannah Smiles), Martin Kove (Death Race 2000, Wyatt Earp), Sean Kanan (Chasing Holden, The Chaos Factor), and the lovely Robyn Lively (Teen Witch, Wildcats).
Video: How does it look?
The Karate Kid Part III is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition included on the disc’s flip side. I am a little let down by the image provided here, even though it is better than the laserdisc or VHS editions I’ve seen. I had hoped for a more refined picture here, but some scenes look washed out and others show heavy grain, bad news indeed. I suppose it isn’t extreme, but it should look better than this, to be sure. When the image is free from grain it looks good, but that doesn’t happen often enough. I do think this is better than the previous releases, but I wish some more time were taken, to ensure a better image level.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is a little better, though not by leaps and bounds. The surrounds are used often for the score and some sound effects, but this isn’t a powerful film in terms of audio, to be sure. I was pleased with the range I heard however and while a little thin at times, I was never let down and I think fans will be pleased. The dialogue is always crisp and well presented, complete with flawless volume balance. This disc also includes audio options in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Korean, Chinese, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, but no other supplemental materials.