The Next Karate Kid

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank) has a lot of anger inside of her, due to the death of her parents in an accident. She has a temper that flares at the drop of a hat, as well as lot of inner pain, which is unsure how to deal with. Her grandmother has been taking care of her, but when her grandmother runs into an old friend at a military function, it seems like a potential solution has arrived. It turns out her grandfather was the commanding officer of Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and as such, she explains Julie’s situation. Mr. Miyagi agrees to take on Julie and train her in the martial arts, which he hopes will also train her emotions, so she is better able to cope with her problems. She is reluctant at first and the two have some awkward moments, but Miyagi is able to teach her some things, one at a time, of course. Julie still has trouble at school though and also has issues with a band of military cadets, who seem to love to torment her. Can Miyagi help Julie keep her emotions under control, or is she destined to explode once too often?

The fourth installment in the Karate Kid series, The Next Karate Kid takes a much different path than the previous three films, to say the least. Of course, Ralph Macchio’s Daniel is gone, but the film takes a different tone also, a much lighter one, I think. Whereas the previous films were more serious, with touches of humor, this movie is the total reverse. You’ll see some dramatic moments to be sure, but this seems to have much more humor than the others in the series. Pat Morita returns once again to his role as Miyagi, while Hilary Swank steps in to take on the student role, though with mixed results. This is probably the third best of the four films, due to the fun nature of the picture, as well as the interaction between Morita and Swank at times. No, this is not a cinematic masterpiece, but it has some good moments, especially for fans of the series. Columbia hasn’t done much with this disc however, so unless you’re a diehard fan, I think a rental will suffice.

It’s hard to believe it after she went on to win an Oscar, but yes, Hilary Swank was The Next Karate Kid. Her performance here is less that impressive, but she has plenty of spunk and for this role, that’s just what she needed. Her character here is a tough one, because she’s often explosive and hard to like, but Swank fills it just right and of course, you don’t like her most of the time. But when has her moments, they come off very well and in the end, I think Swank is decent enough here, though not even close to great. You can also see Swank in such films as The Gift, The Affair of the Necklace, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Boys Don’t Cry. The cast here also includes Pat Morita (Honeymoon in Vegas, Savannah Smiles), Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, The Perfect Storm), and Chris Conrad (The Specialist, Clear and Present Danger).

Video: How does it look?

The Next Karate Kid is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition included on the disc’s flip side. This is a more recent entry in the Karate Kid series and as such, it looks better than others, much better to be honest. The print used shows little defects, from grain to debris, it all seems minimal here. The colors look rich, but never smear or bleed, while flesh tones are natural and consistent. No serious issues with the black levels either, as contrast is smooth and never falters, impressive work all around.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included 2.0 surround option seems good, but this kind of material isn’t too dynamic, to be sure. The surrounds are used for the music and some impact effects, but this is a front channel mix most of the time. That never proves to be a problem however, as the elements seem well mixed and placed, never constrained or forced in the least. The dialogue is clean and consistent also, no real trouble emerges in this mix and I think fans will be pleased. This disc also includes language options in French, Spanish, and Portuguese, and subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, in case you’ll need any of those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This release isn’t as loaded as some special editions out there, but it does have some cool supplements, without a doubt. A selection of deleted scenes start us off and since the film has seen a lot of changes over time, it is cool to see these additional sequences included here. Pereira provides optional commentary for each of the scenes, which sheds some light on why they were excised, very cool indeed. Next is a trio of video introductions from executive producers Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, who ham it up for three takes, none of which end up as humorous, if you ask me. A couple dumb laughs at times, but not too worthwhile, though the concept is a good one, I think. An audio commentary with Pereira, as well as a few performers is also found here, which makes for an enjoyable and informative session. Pereira has a ton of comments to make and in the end, I don’t think he was able to push it all out, though he still offers an insightful look behind A Better Place. A cool audio comparison rounds out the disc, in which you can compare the original mono audio to the remixed 5.1 surround option, with predictable results.

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