The Karate Kid Part III (1989)

the karate kid part iii

“I’m gonna make them suffer… and suffer and suffer and when I think they’ve suffered enough, then I start with the pain.”

The Scoop: 1989 PG, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and Thomas Ian Griffith

Tagline: First it was teacher to student. Then it was father to son. Now, it’s man to man.

Summary Capsule: Revenge and “been there, done that” are the name of the Part III game.

Justin’s rating: Sweep the legs, Johnny. Then sweep the floor. Then lock up for the night.

Justin’s review: I don’t think anybody can really make a good case for the necessity of Karate Kid Part III in the lexicon of filmmaking, other than “Crane Kick = $$” in some studio mogul’s eyes. Part 1 and Part II are essentially two halves of the same movie, echoing themes between each other (fighting bad, waxing good), but Part III seems tacked on in a completely useless fashion, like a little fat brother flagging behind his older siblings and in a wheezy voice asking them to “wait up!”

Although it’d been three years since the last film (and five since the beginning!), Part III opens right as Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) are returning to Okinawa, minus a couple love interests that had no desire to return for this abortive epilogue. Daniel’s mom makes the fatal mistake of returning to New Jersey, leaving Daniel to move in with his mentor in the wackiest roommate coupling since that duck decided to share an apartment with a 40-foot anaconda.

Daniel gives up his college tuition so that Mr. Miyagi can open a bonsai tree shop (was he thinking his mother wouldn’t mind this transferring of funds?), and even meets the semi-cute platonic love interest across the street. Life is grand in California!

Well, it would be, except that adults beaten in karate have the unfortunate tendency to vow revenge and make it a goal for the rest of their life to somehow get back at a senior citizen and a little punk kid. That’s right, ladies and gents, Kreese (Martin Kove) is back, and this time he’s a little more insane than before! He also has the backing of an old army buddy, who happens to be rich nuclear waste disposal businessman (yeah, really) and a karate expert himself. The two of them construct an elaborate plan to get Daniel to re-enter the karate tournament he fought in just a year (five years) ago and humiliate him and there’s the PAIN involved and the big bad adults can feel good about smacking around someone half their age.

A lot of this plan seems to revolve around hiring some bullies to smack Daniel and company around and trash Miyagi’s store, thus giving Daniel no out but to enter the tournie. If you’re one of the people who are sitting out there asking the question “Why doesn’t he call the police?” or “Why doesn’t he buy a shotgun?” then please come over to my place for tea. We have much to discuss.

While it’s acceptable for filmmakers to try out new things with sequels, they should be very cautious what they monkey with, lest they rip to shreds what made the series fun to begin with. The questionable twist of Part III is that Daniel, more whiny and insecure than ever, grows distrustful of Mr. Miyagi and finds himself a new teacher (said evil nuclear waste karate guy). It’s a reversal of everything interesting that was built up in Part I, so that instead of clever repartee between Daniel and Miyagi, we get a lot of angry silences that remind us of being around ex-girlfriends.

Aside from that new angle, everything’s more or less how it’s always been, and that’s not a good thing. The bad kid with tall bad hair, for example, is obviously some little snot that would’ve flunked out of Cobra dojo in the first movie, but here he’s surprisingly invincible even though Daniel’s proven his skills in the past against far better. Daniel’s love interest isn’t really there to be a love interest (she tells him she’s going back to her old boyfriend early on in the film, and does so about midway through), the bonsai tree subplot is only interesting if you’re a really avid gardener, and the end fight hurts my jaw with the yawns.

Fear does not exist in this movie, but neither does a good story.

"This is my scary face. GRRR!"
“This is my scary face. GRRR!”


  • Ralph Macchio’s age was a problem for this flick — he was 28, still playing a teenager, and his pseudo-love interest was underage. Thomas Ian Griffith (who plays Silver) is one year younger than Ralph Macchio, despite Griffith’s character being a Vietnam War veteran.
  • The Chinese title took its cue from the previous films and was called Young Man’s Tribulations 3.
  • Heh… I like flashbacks to older films in the series! “Fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?” “NO SENSEI!”
  • Kreese’s friend is an eeeevil nuclear waste dumper… person… guy
  • Whoa! They got Daniel’s mom back for a ten second cameo!
  • The curse of the previous film’s girlfriend… disappeared with only a trace of exposition to explain why
  • Evil guys like to spill their plans while they’re in the bathroom
  • He tells his housing staff that he’s working on revenge?
  • Daniel blows his college tuition money and Miyagi lets him?
  • Would you take a bath naked in front of your very old female secretary?
  • The evil kid looks a bit like Vanilla Ice
  • He goes on a date with a girl who has a boyfriend?
  • Mac & cheese is Daniel-san’s favorite
  • Stealing a bonsai tree to pay for the destroyed shop? Haven’t we heard of “insurance” yet?
  • The evil kid breaks a tree to prove his evility!

Groovy Quotes

Terry Silver: Look at this; 10 years ago, nuclear was the preferred waste. You could dump it anywhere! Now everybody’s a detective. I’m lucky if I can make one deal a YEAR without being indicted!

Terry Silver: This slope, what’s his name – Miyagi – and that punk kid – I’m gonna get them for what they did to you. They made you suffer, so I’m gonna make them suffer… and suffer and suffer and when I think they’ve suffered enough, then I start with the pain.

Daniel Larusso: You know, this is the 80’s, Mr. Miyagi. You can’t be so damn passive!

Daniel Larusso: [worried about the tree] Will it be okay?
Miyagi: Depend if root’s strong.

Daniel Larusso: I know you don’t believe in fighting, but tournament karate isn’t exactly fighting.
Miyagi: Not exactly ping-pong, either.

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