Next Karate Kid, The

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -1/2

In this the fourth film in the KARATE KID series, there's a new karate kid and she's a girl named Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank). She attends high school and is angry and rebellious because her parents were killed in an accident. Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), the mentor of the original karate kid, happens to be a friend of her grandmother and offers to stay with Julie while her grandmother goes on a vacation. Miyagi soon finds he has trouble relating to Julie, but they eventually become good friends. Miyagi agrees to train her in karate because she is being harassed by a bully at school, but emphasizes that karate fighting should only be used in self-defense. He takes her to a Buddhist monastery where he introduces her to his Buddhist monk friends and puts her through a rigorous karate training session. When she returns to school this training comes in handy as the bully and his cohorts continue to make life difficult for her and her new boyfriend, Eric (Chris Conrad). At times, the story events seem contrived, but it has tense drama, romance, humor and some touching moments. Karate Kid fans will probable like it, particularly girls.

Julie and Eric must defend themselves from the school bullies, but the fighting in this sequel is more limited and subdued than in previous sequels. However, in a final confrontation, Eric is beaten severely in a brutal battle, although Julie and Miyagi come to his rescue. Also, Miyagi must defend himself from some rough characters, but continues to emphasize that fighting should be avoided whenever possible. At the Buddhist monastery, a relationship between karate and Buddhism is implied and Julie is introduced to some Buddhist beliefs, including respect for all living creatures. She also observes the practices of meditation and mind control over a bowling ball. Filmmakers should have the freedom to portray the beliefs and practices of non-Christian religions, but as a Christian publication we cannot recommend a film which portrays a false religion, such as Buddhism, in a favorable manner. Refreshingly, the film has no sexual content, obscenities or profanities, but many crudities are used including the popular term "kick butt." The language and violence in THE NEXT KARATE KID don't seem excessive, but Buddhism is portrayed so favorably that viewers might be drawn to it.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, Ca 90232

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (12) times - Mild 7, Moderate 5

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Several times - Mostly moderate, sometimes severe (intense karate battles, fist fighting, beatings, chase threats, rough treatment, car blown up)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: Karate described as beneficial, but fighting as undesirable unless necessary; Buddhist beliefs and practices portrayed favorably; girl admonished to overcome anger, losses and rebellion and that strength comes from within

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adolescents and teenagers

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