Succeeding the abomination that is The Karate Kid Part II, my expectations were tremendously low for the third installment in the franchise. I’m pleased to report, however, that Part III isn’t half bad. Still far below the quality of the original, it’s undoubtedly superior to Part II.
The film wisely returns to Los Angeles, the setting of the first movie, and follows John Kreese attempting to recover from his losses following the All Valley Karate Tournament that completely ruined his career and destroyed the Cobra Kai dojo. An old friend of Kreese, and fellow Cobra Kai karateka, Terry Silver, agrees to revenge Daniel on behalf of Kreese.
Like Part II, the villains in this movie are very over-the-top, but unlike in Part II, they are rather enjoyable to watch. Obnoxious though they may be, Silver, Kreese, and Mike Barnes feel as though they pose a threat to Daniel, and therefore, they suitably function for this movie.
Daniel and Miyagi also return to an interesting story that was non-existent in the second film. Daniel follows an interesting arc that includes advancement in his understanding of martial arts, and Miyagi, though not nearly as compelling as he is in the original, is handled better in this movie than he is in Part II. Likewise, the romance, though adding little to the story, is entertaining, unlike the irritatingly cringe-worthy romance of Part II.
An aspect of this movie that I really appreciated is the revival of an idea-based story central to both the first Karate Kid film and the Cobra Kai series. The plot follows Terry Silver training Daniel in Cobra Kai, which serves as an interesting exploration of what happens to a hero when he is corrupted by the ideas of villainy and immorality.
Despite it’s superiority to the second film, The Karate Kid Part III still isn’t a great movie. The script is riddled with plot holes and odd character decisions. And if observed as an independent film without comparing it to Part II, this movie doesn’t stand alone on it’s own merit. Although it worked for me as a guilty pleasure, the cheesy nature and obnoxious execution of this movie isn’t indicative of talented filmmaking.
The Karate Kid Part III isn’t a fantastic movie, suffering from a poor script and over-the-top implementation, but it’s a much better entry in the Karate Kid series than its predecessor, with an interesting story and entertaining watchability.