Ralph Macchio ends his tenure as the Karate Kid in this third installment of the film, where friendship turns to hatred. However, with a chance at redemption, the bond between a student and teacher lasts forever.
Arriving back from Okinawa, Mr. Miyagi and his student/friend Daniel Larusso learn that the apartment building has been sold. Meanwhile, Daniel’s mother has returned to New Jersey to tend to her brother, who is ill with emphysema. Daniel stays with Mr. Miyagi and at the same time gets a sense of heartbreak when his girlfriend Kumiko gets a job with a dance troupe.
Daniel is invited to retain his title at the All Valley Tournament. However, he declines to compete. Someone is not happy with that decision and that is Sensei John Kreese. Seeking revenge, he enlists the aid of an old friend, chemical businessman Terry Silver, who promises that Daniel will fight in the tournament. To achieve this, he hires Mike Barnes, a champion whose reputation as a “bad boy” has achieved him notoriety.
Daniel and Miyagi open up a Bonsai shop and for Daniel, he finds a new friend in Jessica, who works at the pottery store next door. When Jessica tells Daniel that she is reuniting with her ex-boyfriend, Daniel finds himself content and the two become friends. When Mike attempts to force Daniel to fight, Daniel has no other option. However, Miyagi refuses to teach Daniel this time. Daniel finds himself a new teacher in Terry, who is himself an expert martial artist. Daniel soon learns that with his new skills comes a price and it is up to Miyagi to help his student prepare for the fight of his life.
Three years after their adventure in Okinawa, Daniel and Miyagi return in this really dramatic installment of the film. Ralph Macchio plays Daniel as a more mature person, who lets his anger get the best of him at times of need. Being practically forced into a situation he cannot get out of, he becomes a target of the revenge seeking coach whose top student he defeated in the original film. Pat Morita returns as Miyagi and gets a performance that comes close to his 1984 Academy Award nominated performance of the original. He cares about Daniel and while he offers not to teach him, he does try to help him and finally realizes what has happened.
While Martin Kove returns as Sensei Kreese, it is Thomas Ian Griffith that makes more of an impact in his film debut. The future screenwriter/actor makes an impressive debut as Kreese’s longtime friend and corporate executive Terry Silver. He makes Daniel suffer during training and while Daniel is under the impression he is trying to be tougher, it is more of seeing how far Daniel will go to finally learn that everything comes at a price. This time, Daniel’s new nemesis comes in the form of future soap opera star Sean Kanan, a black belt in karate who brings it as new bully Mike Barnes. He is truly the bad boy of karate and it shows to good effect.
The Karate Kid Part III is a fitting conclusion to the original series. Miyagi would return in 1994 with The Next Karate Kid, in which he takes in a female student. However, seeing Daniel and Miyagi in their last adventure together is quite good.
WFG RATING: B
A Columbia Pictures production. Director: John G. Avildsen. Producer: Jerry Weintraub. Writer: Robert Mark Kamen. Cinematography: Stephen Yaconelli. Editing: John G. Avildsen and John Carter.
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively, Martin Kove, Thomas Ian Griffith, Sean Kanan, Jonathan Avildsen, Christopher Paul Ford.