There's no Daniel, no Johnny, and no Ali "with an I." But we do get Mr. Miyagi, newcomer Hilary Swank, aka The Next Karate Kid and... Michael Ironside? Here we'll take a look at 10 things you never knew about The Next Karate Kid.
The Next Karate Kid is canon.
The Next Karate Kid arrived in 1994, roughly five years after its predecessor, which was the longest gap between movies in the franchise. 'Though the late Pat Morita is was the only actor to return from the previous films, the producers of the killer YouTube series Cobra Kai have confirmed that all three sequels to the original Karate Kid are, in fact, canon, even going so far as to say that they believe Julie, aka The Next Karate Kid, likely met Daniel at Mr. Miyagi's funeral.
So, where is Daniel?
Mr. Miyagi directly mentions Daniel only once in The Next Karate Kid. When Swank saw an ad looking for "a girl for a role in 'Karate Kid 4,'" "I thought I was auditioning to play Ralph Macchio's girlfriend," she told the Chicago Tribune in 1994. "It wasn't until after I got the screen test that I found out I was going to be Ralph. Well, sort of."
In a 2018 interview, Macchio debunked the idea that he'd turned down a fourth Karate Kid. "I had heard they were making it," he told Uproxx. "It wasn't like they came to me and I said, 'Oh no, I'll never do another one of these.' None of that happened. I think it was probably a decision by the studio and producer at that point, 'Hey, let's take this in this direction, let's find another way to go.'" He went on to say that he's since run into Swank a couple of times and they both smile about it.
No matter how many paparazzi have tried to get Macchio to say something bad about Karate Kid IV, he's always nice, often remarking that Swank could kick his ass.
His first name isn't Mister.
The Next Karate Kid doesn't give us Daniel, Johnny, or Sensei John, but we do get something never before revealed by the Karate Kid movies: Mr. Miyagi's first name! He was given a first name once before, in the short-lived animated series, but we're pretty sure that wasn't canon. In the fourth movie, the action moves to Boston, where Miyagi attends a military reunion and the meets his late commander's granddaughter, Julie. At the start of the movie, he is called Keisuke Miyagi. To make things a little more confusing, the English translation of the Japanese on his tombstone in Cobra Kai actually reads Nariyoshi Miyagi. Whatever his first name really was, original screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen has said he named the character Miyagi after the founder of the style of karate featured in the movies.
The original writer was way over it.
Kamen wanted The Karate Kid Part III to be a prequel, set in 16th Century China, telling the story of the fisherman ancestor Miyagi mentioned in one scene in the second one. The producers disagreed, so Kamen turned down the movie. Eventually, the studio was able to lure him back, 'though he wasn't excited about making it. By the time the fourth came around, "I had had it by then," he said in a 2012 interview with Mandatory. "I wanted to do the third one with a girl and get rid of Daniel, but they didn't want to do that. Enough already. I was so tired of The Karate Kid."
It was made by the director of Young Guns.
Late director John G. Avildsen had also hoped to pursue Kamen's prequel idea for the third movie and was equally unhappy with the finished result. After directing the first three films, Avildsen passed on the fourth, making the movie 8 Seconds instead. Christopher Cain, whose previous credits included Jim Belushi's inner-city school drama The Principal and pretty boy Western Young Guns, replaced Avildsen.
The Referee did return.
Chuck Norris protégé and 9th degree black belt Pat E. Johnson, whose students have included Steve McQueen and Bob Barker, is best known to Karate Kid fans as the referee from the crucial tournament scenes in the original. He was also the fight coordinator on the earlier movies and even received the action figure treatment. Johnson returned to train Hilary Swank for The Next Karate Kid, together with his assistant, Barbara Goldstone. The pair worked on many films together, including one of MovieWeb's favorite martial arts action films, Showdown in Little Tokyo.
500 girls auditioned for the title role.
Hilary Swank was just 18 when she auditioned to play the orphan Julie, beating out some 500 other hopefuls. She had no martial arts training beforehand, but she had been a high school gymnast. She trained in tang soo do for two hours a day during preproduction, eventually ramping up to five hours per day with Johnson and Goldstone. She also worked with her stunt double, nationally ranked karate competitor Christine Bannon-Rodrigues. In a September 1994 issue of Black Belt Magazine, Johnson raved, "Hilary is so good I feel that if I could train her for one year, she would be competitive on the national karate circuit - she's that good."
The poster shot was as hard as it looks.
People Magazine put a bunch of old photos in front of Hilary Swank, back in 2007. One of them was the picture from the top of the movie art. "Wahoo! That was the poster for The Next Karate Kid. I had some flexibility!" she marveled. "I remember doing that shot, and when I was done, I was so sore, I couldn't sit down." Ouch!
Walton Goggins is in it.
Swank wasn't the only future star to get a break in The Next Karate Kid. Though he doesn't have her two Oscars - yet - Walton Goggins is no slouch. In fact, he's one of MovieWeb's favorite actors, from The Shield to Justified to The Hateful Eight. The Next Karate Kid was his first real feature film role, followed a few episodes of TV.
Okay, there's one more actor from an earlier film...
Almost everything written about The Next Karate Kid claims that Pat Morita was the only franchise star to return. And while that's true in terms of major roles, it isn't technically correct. A thorough study of the IMDb credits reveals that actor Arsenio 'Sonny' Trinidad is in both The Next Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part III, albeit in different roles. Trinidad has some other cool credits to his name, as well, including episodes of Airwolf, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, McGyver, and Max Headroom.