Two-time Academy Award®-winner (Best Actress, Boys Don’t Cry, 1999; Best Actress, Million Dollar Baby, 2004) Hilary Swank shines in her first starring role as THE NEXT KARATE KID, co-starring Oscar®-nominee (Best Supporting Actor, The Karate Kid, 1984) Noriyuki “Pat” Morita. When her parents are killed in a car accident, 17-year-old Julie Pierce (Swank) falls under the wise and patient guidance of Mr. Miyagi (Morita), who teaches the sullen teen to dispel her anger through the healing powers of the martial arts. So when she becomes the newest target of the Alpha Elite - a sadistic gang of high-school bullies - it’s up to Julie to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.
A vast improvement over its immediate predecessor, The Karate Kid III
, this appealingly understated 1994 drama features a compelling performance by Hilary Swank, who would later win a Best Actress Oscar®
for her work in Boys Don't Cry
. Swank plays 17-year-old Julie Pierce, the recently orphaned and troubled granddaughter of an old war buddy of Miyagi Yakuga (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, the lone holdover from the previous Karate Kid
films). Harassed at school by adolescent boys under the sway of an evil coach (Michael Ironside), Julie reluctantly finds refuge in the calm teachings of Mr. Miyagi. While the film's violence is as contrived and silly as that of the other KK
features, the script provides exotic compensations via a subplot set in a peaceful Buddhist monastery. Still, it's Morita's crafty professionalism and Swank's emotional authenticity that makes this film more watchable than anyone might have expected. --Tom Keogh