The Karate Kid Part III (DVD, 2001) Reviews
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The Karate Kid Part III (DVD, 2001)

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So Stupid it's Almost Sublime: The Karate Kid Part III

Jun 18, 2010 (Updated Jul 11, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Unintentional hilarity, Thomas Ian Griffith.

Cons:Macchio still can't fight after three friggin' movies...

The Bottom Line: Karate Kid III is not a good movie, but it is a hilarious one, and that counts for something. You'll laugh...and that's about it.


If you didn't make it out to the theater this past weekend to catch Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan in the new version of The Karate Kid or if you did and just want more underdog karate action, then I've got just the movie for you.

By the time the third installment in The Karate Kid franchise rolled around, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi had already defeated the villainous Cobra Kais and traveled to Japan where Daniel entered a fight to the death. Someone out there concluded that people wanted to see more of a nearly thirty year old dweeb (Macchio) pretending to be teenager and getting his butt kicked by guys half his age, so we got The Karate Kid III. The question then became "what do we do with Daniel and Miyagi now?" Apparently, pulling the desperate sequel move of shooting them into space wasn't an option, so instead writer Robert Mark Kamen does the next best thing - he just basically re-writes the first film with a few new characters tossed into the mix.

I won't try to convince you that The Karate Kid III is a good film (although I'd argue it's better than part two), but it is unintentionally hilarious - and that counts for something. In this entry, Daniel and Miyagi have started a business selling bonsai trees and life is good. Meanwhile Kreese (Martin Kove), the sensei of the Cobra Kai, is a broken man with only one thing on his mind - revenge against Miyagi and Daniel. Desperate, he contacts an army buddy, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) and they concoct a plan to make Daniel's life Hell. Daniel naturally falls right into this trap, because even after all this time with the wisdom of Miyagi at his disposal, he's still a giant dope.

This one's got almost everything you could possibly want from a Karate Kid film - Martin Kove hamming it up as Kreese, Thomas Ian Griffith sporting a badass ponytail (other than Pat Morita's Miyagi, Griffith is the best thing in this film - he's so slimy and cartoonish that I often wish he had a mustache so he could twirl it fiendishly while outlining his evil plans), another karate tournament, training montages, Snake from the original film, Pat Morita kicking the crap out of three guys at once, and a new "unbeatable" opponent for Daniel to face. The only thing it doesn't have is Joe Esposito belting out You're the Best while Daniel works his way through the tournament in a montage. But hey, you can't have everything, right?

The direction comes courtesy of John G. Avildsen - yes, the same John G. Avildsen who won an Oscar for Best Director for his work on Rocky. You'd think with having previously worked - at such a high level - in the underdog fighting film subgenre that Karate Kid Part III would be better than what it is. It's not really fair to lay the blame at Avildsen's feet, though - you can't make silk out of the sow ear that is this film's script. Plus, he's stuck working with a "martial artist" who's possibly even less convincing than David Carradine was on Kung Fu. Yuen Wo Ping action choreography couldn't make Macchio believable as a black belt... Avildsen gives it a shot - but when your action scenes are hindered by a guy who's totally unbelievable in action scenes and your dramatic scenes are on par with Saturday morning cartoons, you're basically boned.

Despite all these issues, I kinda like The Karate Kid Part III. It's not as good as the original (although Thomas Ian Griffith is every bit as fun as a bad guy as William Zabka is in the first film), but it's definitely more fun than the first sequel. It's a terrible film, but it becomes almost sublime thanks to its unintentional hilarity - and if you've been reading my work for any length of time, you know I'm a sucker for unintentional hilarity. I like to pull out a copy of this once every few years and sit back and giggle like a school girl at all the dumb crap in it. If you're like me, and have a special fondness for films with dumb characters saying stupid things and overacting while doing it, then this is like the Holy Grail. Check it out now, and thank me when you finally stop laughing.


Recommend this product? Yes


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