Next Karate Kid, The

Desperately trying to infuse new blood into the l980s franchise, The Next Karate Kid, the fourth installment in the popular film series that began exactly a decade ago, is a hodgepodge of a movie, fashioned entirely from recycled ideas and characters. Centering on a rebellious girl who needs to be tamed, this disappointing sequel is not likely to allure new audiences, and it's doubtful whether the old fans would flock to see a preachy picture that has little to do with karate.

Whatever oddball charm the first Karate Kid had is long gone form the fourth picture in the series, which actually marks a departure, for the only constant is Pat Morita. The new production might as well have been subtitled, “The Taming of the Shrew,” or “Rebel without a Cause.”

Since the death of her parents, Julie Pierce (Hilaey Swanks), an aggressive, ill-mannered teenager, has directed her anger at just about anybody around her, including her grandmother (Constance Powers), who can no longer control or raise her. At school, she's constantly harassed by a violent, all-male “posse,” which just adds pain to her coming of age and struggle to become a woman.

Enter Mr. Miyagi (“Pat” Morita), the veteran, enigmatic karate teacher who, of course, is the first to see Julie's real potential true nature. To repay a debt to Julie's grandfather, who saved his life in WWII, Miyagi takes Julie on an odyssey of self-discovery that allows her to reclaim the strength to defeat her foes and reach maturity.

Predictably, at first their relationship is adversarial, with Julie resenting Miyagi interference, but gradually he assumes the roles of a surrogate father, grandfather, mentor–and friend.

The boys at school conform to types: the sleazy Ned (Michael Cavalieri), who perceives her as a challenge to conquest, the sensitive Eric (Chris Conrad) who sees her inner beauty and soul, etc.