Ok as a HUGE fan of the first two Karate Kid movies and fan of the third installment for all the wrong reasons, I’ll admit that up until recently I’d never given ‘The Next Karate Kid’ from 1994 a watch or for that matter a fair chance. I’d always wrote it off as some irrelevant, unrelated knock off of the franchise. However, as I’d rewatched some of the first season of Cobra Kai, once again I’d realized just how much I missed Mr. Miagi and how even more awesome the show would have been if he was still with us. I thought what I’d give for just one last adventure with the character.
Then I’d read in an interview with the creators of Cobra Kai that they’d addressed the 1994 sequel as cannon in the series and slightly teased how all of those movies characters are on the table for possible appearances in future seasons of the show. It dawned up me quickly, after all these years there was indeed one last adventure out there with Pat Morita in his legendary role that as a Karate Kid fanatic I’d ignored for all these years. It was finally time to put my snobby Karate Kid purist attitude aside, to see a movie 27 years in waiting!
So I’m here to report that not only is ‘The Next Karate Kid’ a way better film than ‘Karate Kid 3’ but I think it’s imperative that Hillary Swank return to her role as Julie Pierce in Cobra Kai. Clearly she has a story to tell Daniel with her history with Miagi and she also shares his karate style, something that would make for a great plot element in the series. As far as the fourth installment of the Karate Kid franchise goes, it really was so sweet to see Mr. Miagi in this role, in a movie I’d put off for some reason for so long. It felt like a rare treat to see it when I finally did as I was also surprised at how wrong I’d been, the movie was by no means the flimsy carbon copy sequel I’d guessed it was. Nope quite the contrary, Hillary Swank and Pat Morita both kick ass here in a movie that has a true heart of it’s own and explore more into the history of the Miagi character.
We delve into his past as he heads off to Massachusetts to accept a prestigious award for Japanese American soldiers of WWII & also meets back up with an old friend, Louisa Pierce, the widow of his commanding officer. At Pierce’s home, they catch up on old times, war stories and there he meets his next student, Julie Pierce. The troubled teen is taken under Miagi’s wing and she even finds time to care for an injured hawk at her school. Miagi sees quite early on that she, like Daniel has got some true karate potential and also anger management issues of her own to take care of. She’s also got some problems with some weirdo violent militant Frat boys that need taking care of, something Miagi is happy to help with! The great thing here is that it goes a lot of different directions, we don’t have Daniel’s story for Hillary Swank retold like a “Force Awakens” Karate Kid sequel. Instead she nurses a bird of prey, visits a Buddhist monastery where she befriends a group of charming monks, learns karate and also finds time to fight an elite group of assholes not in a tournament either but in a real damn bare knuckle brawl!
So yeah, I was wrong The Next Karate Kid is a cool movie that not only adds to the Karate Kid legacy but it also expands the story of the late great Miagi. It’s a sweet 90’s sequel that seriously deserves a second chance from Karate Kid purists and fans of Cobra Kai alike. Let’s face it, if the Netflix show can snag Hillary Swank, who’s an incredible actor to come back as Julie Pierce, they’re going to be utilizing the secret weapon of the franchise. I’m sure we’ll be seeing her in the near future on Cobra Kai but in the meantime I think the fans need to give this little 90’s gem a re-watch. There’s so much fun to be had in The Next Karate Kid and I’m glad I finally saw it almost three decades later for my first viewing! A welcome slice of epic lore that makes the Cobra Kai series missing character, Pat “Mr. Miagi” Morita that much more special and severely missed by all the fans….
Warning do NOT watch ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ or ‘Bogus Journey’ before viewing ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’!! I made the mistake of watching them both in a span of a less than a week and witnessing the comedic genius of these retro gems before viewing the latest installment. Both the previous films have just aged so damn well, I was laughing out loud as it’d been so long since I revisited them and they truly hold up. This along with the hype from critics boldly claiming it was just as good as the first two had me excellently PUMPED for the long awaited sequel! Well, I’m sad to say I was most supremely let down by ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’.
So that’s not to say you shouldn’t check it out, if you’re a fan it’s your obligation dude to see what became of the legendary duo. What I’ll tell you is, the legendary duo isn’t very excellent these days. The two are down on their luck, apparently still trying to write the song that unites the human race. They have their two daughters, who are basically younger versions of them and their struggling with their marriages to the Princesses. Enter two more “excellent adventures” to steal the hit song from their future selves and their daughters to round up legendary musicians to be their back up band ala the first film.
Sounds like a blast huh? Not so fast! It’s not exactly that simple to be truly excellent in 2020 dude! Alex Winter was pretty on point as Bill to be fair, and carries the whole movie almost entirely on his shoulders. The strangest, most perplexing thing about this damn movie is Keanu Reeves as Ted. It feels like he’s trying to do a bad, unpracticed impression of the iconic character, his delivery is flat, uninspiring and just plain not convincing. This is highly problematic for a Bill & Ted flick! I’m certain Keanu was excited to revisit the role and with the original writers on board along with the director of ‘Galaxy Quest’ this should have been an easy slam dunk! I guess Keanu just couldn’t channel the magic, in fact his daughter in the movie is more convincing as Ted than he is.
I also noticed how silent my viewing was in terms of laughs, I chuckled a few times and my friend barely made a damn sound, as we both laughed our way recently through the first two. There were also too many subplots and a flimsy script left for a pretty disjointed rushed adventure. William Sadler however returning as ‘Death’ was the film’s highlight IMO and probably the funniest part of the whole movie. I think Bill & Ted really needed to ham this thing way up, I was certain seeing the older versions of them being as ridiculous as the first two movies would be a real treat of comedic gold. Instead this one felt like some sort of depressing Bill & Ted “drama” that worked hard to undo the major plot points of the first two films. I guess lightning rarely strikes the same place three times. That all being said I’m happy they did it, or at least tried because they certainly didn’t need to but clearly wanted to give it one more spin. I’m still a bit bummed the day after seeing it that my old pals Bill & Ted aren’t quite the same guys I knew and loved, but at least the film tried it’s best to be optimistic in these strange, troubling & uncertain times….
Totally EXCELLENT news duders! We just got an announcement from the stars of the “Bill & Ted’s” franchise, Keanu Reeves & Alex Winter that the third movie in the excellently bogus adventure series is indeed on the way! I’ve got the feeling that part three’s gonna bring the duo back in the right way and hopefully focus less on “passing the torch” to a younger generation. How about just telling a hilarious story about Bill & Ted? I’m way fucking tired of the “passing the torch” plan that all these Hollywood franchises seem to be pushing. It’s clear that “passing the torch” is just bad lingo that means finding a way to make big bucks from younger actors who can keep the franchise name alive for a string of movies.
Well I got news for you Hollywood, people are catching on, how about just giving us a cool sequel movie that doesn’t NEED to spawn a shit ton of lackluster sequels? How about a real Ghostbusters movie with remaining cast? I’ll say it again, the Karate Kid sequel series ‘Cobra Kai’ gave us a real story to chomp on with our favorite characters front & center while managing to throw in fresh new characters. So I’m hoping “Bill & Ted 3” gives us a full real dose of, well, Bill & Ted and doesn’t try and set up some big sequel franchise. Regardless, thus far I’m totally excited to see what these two rad dudes are up to after all these years!! What do you think these days about the whole passing of the torch scenario in movies?