“Karate Kid 3 is better than the first one? Shut the hell up, The ’80s Movie Club!”
We’re not kidding. Karate Kid 3 is amazing and until recently was the best thing in the series. The wonderful, magnificent and utterly perfect Cobra Kai TV series has since taken the prize and if you’ve not seen it, you need to stop reading this and get onto that right away.
Taking just the films though, most of you will be thinking that the original Karate Kid is the best film in the series. We’re not here to tell you that you’re wrong but as much as we love it, that first film is a bit saggy. There are great moments for sure and plenty of them but think about it. Take out the best bits – the tournament and the wax on/wax off stuff – and all you’ve got is a standard teen romance drama (albeit played by actors who weren’t teens).
Sensei Kreese is cool of course (we met him, he’s ace) and we live in constant sadness that Dutch didn’t get a spin-off series but everything else is a bit blaverage if you ask us. Apart from the Asian kid in the semi-finals who blatantly was the only actor there with martial arts experience.
Karate Kid 2 was okay but it’s not the one. In fact the only really good bit is the pissed Kreese scene (and that was originally filmed as the ending for the first film).
So, Karate Kid 3. Why is it good? Well, I saw it in the cinema back in 1989 and hated it. I hated it because the tournament was like five minutes long (LaRusso doesn’t even have to fight until the final) but I was an idiot. A total idiot with a stupid head.
You see, unlike Karate Kid 1, the third movie is good all the way through. Mainly thanks to Thomas Ian Griffiths who plays the psychotic karate teacher Terry Silver.
Terry Silver is an old army buddy of Kreese’s and decides to help him get his revenge of Miyagi for that scene up there. He’s rich, ruthless and completely batshit insane and he comes up with a plan to destroy LaRusso and Miyagi while reclaiming the All-Valley Karate Championship trophy one year after Daniel-san crane kicked his way to victory.
His plan hinges on befriending LaRusso and offering him some karate lessons which Daniel needs because Miyagi doesn’t want to train him anymore and Silver’s young protege, Mike ‘Bad Boy’ Barnes, isn’t going to let him get away with not defending the title.
Silver’s plan is to train Daniel so ferociously that he becomes a sort of karate machine with no technique but lots of anger. It doesn’t really make sense but after the paint the fence style of training, it’s quite interesting seeing Daniel doing some real training.
At first Daniel is reticent about the whole thing but his ‘friendship’ with Silver is cemented thanks to the second best move in the whole series (the best being Johnny catching a punch and then threading his leg around it to kick a guy in the face in the original film). In order to gain Daniel’s trust, Silver defends him from Barnes and during the fight shows him a book which he then hits to push it into Barnes’ face. It’s total big brothering and completely hilarious.
His performance throughout the film could be seen as a tad over the top. He’s not so much chewing the scenery as he is having an all you can eat scenery buffet but he’s the best thing in the whole series and is so completely unhinged that he’s quite terrifying at times. In fact, he’s way scarier in this than he was in John Carpenter’s Vampires and he was a murderous vampire in that.
Throw in Sean Kanan as the equally scary Barnes, a kid whose performance in this movie actually makes the whole thing a lot less family-friendly than the previous movies, and the return of Martin Kove as John Kreese and you’ve got the best badguy trio since Superman 2 and that’s no joke.
Barnes is like Johnny Lawrence and Dutch from the first film had a baby and then got Brock Lesnar to babysit him. His absolute rage in the photo above is during the final tournament where LaRusso is ready to quit after having his arse handed to him.
“Come on, get up! Get on that line! Get on that line, LaRusso! You’re worthless! Your slope teacher’s nothing! Get up, man! You’re no champion! Get up! You suck, LaRusso! You suck, man! And your teacher’s karate shit! You hear me! It’s shit! You’re a joke, LaRusso! Your karate’s a joke and your teacher isn’t worth shit! He’s nothing! He’s nothing! And you’re nothing! I own you! I own you, LaRusso! Where’s your little Jap teacher now, huh! He’s a phony, man! He’s a fake! And he didn’t teach you nothing! Your karate’s shit! You hear me! Get up!”
Karate Kid 3 has an average rating on IMDB of 4.3, compared to Karate Kid’s 7.1, but give it another chance and make sure you really concentrate on Terry Silver because this film is a gem. Sure, the bits without Cobra Kai in it are just some bullshit about LaRusso getting friend-zoned by yet another girl while trying to fix a bonsai tree or something but we can forgive that because Karate Kid 3 is awesome.
We could talk about The Next Karate Kid or the 2010 Jaden Smith remake of the original but we don’t want to and not even Terry Silver could make us.