The Next Karate Kid

Bill Conti

" A new sound for a new generation, where Conti closes the saga in style "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the limited release

The Karate Kid saga sunk to an all time low when Mr. Miyagi had to baby-sit and take care of a juvenile youngster in the pretty role of now all star Hilary Swank. I have nothing against the fact that a woman is now the karate kid, but it makes Pat Morita's character look silly and above all childish, not the distinguished and serious character he could portray in the first 2 movies. Naturally the movie skipped the attention of even the most die hard Karate Kid fans and only fans of cute Hilary Swank could enlighten them to an hour and a half of disappointing dribble. Luckily John Kreese didn't return or it would have been even more humiliating. Yet one that did have to return was composer Bill Conti, who had the opportunity to end the saga at least in musical style and thereby create a new sound for the new karate kid.

And that's exactly what he did in The Next Karate Kid. Considering how modern this movie is in comparison to the others, Conti distinguished himself with more electronic bounces and twists, making sure that the people could identify themselves with the tone of the era, while not dismissing the themes that made The Karate Kid genre famous. So we discover the interaction theme in "The Next Karate Kid" and the lovely flute version of the main theme in "Regiment of Heroes".

Incredible is the fact that the love theme survived as well, appearing even more in the final movie of the saga. "Julie Storms Out" presents a tinkling soft version of it, while shining literally in "Julie and Miyagi" (giving us classic Conti). The biggest change however lies in the fact how Conti presents the new karate kid. Julie's character is a rebel and her style is musically altered from a soothing Daniel LaRusso to a stormy Julie where clangs and electric twangs determine her character. Examples are "Cops Chase Julie" and "Julie's Fight" (this with ugly electric guitars).

The change of tone in the final movie is a bold one. The catch is when Julie's character changes, her style does too. With "Trainyard Emotions", the soft whispers of a love theme are heard on piano and Conti interacts it again with his love theme. The funky bounces in "3MI", the interaction theme in "The Pizza Guy", they are all a part of The Next Karate Kid's musical style. It is in "Monk Headquarters" where the style changes the most, and so does Julie. The interaction theme represents the monks now, but the love theme keeps growing to a really beautiful, meaningful tune ("Julie / San Satori").

"Training Montage" is a great mix of whirling strings and the flute version of the main theme. Add to that some percussion and a beat and you receive a stylistic new version of the Karate Kid's charm. In "Angel Flies" that effect is reached again when the pan flute so ever gracefully touches the beauty of freedom, making sure the love theme joins in too. Remember the sunset training? This is just as good musically! With "Miyagi Tears" you receive an altered version of the love theme, while an ethnic comical play joins the fun of "Bowling for Monks".

Fun's over however when "The Alphas Drop In" with a brief but edgy cue. And in "The Alphas Clobber Eric" the drums and the dark noise don't present anything good. In "Julie Fights" you notice the grand style of The Karate Kid scores are over (wouldn't fit with what came before in this score). However a certain style, rhythm, clangs and more harmony in the music shows you how much Julie has transformed from a loose rebel to The Next Karate Kid.

With the last track "Miyagi's Big Fight" we finally see the master at work in the biggest Karate Kid manner. The ethnic percussion defies the rhythm, the dark underscore the opponent and the emotion of the love theme and the main theme the victorious subtle Miyagi spirit that captivated the whole world from movie nr 1 to 4.

In the end, it is not the best of the Karate Kid scores, but it shows a significant progress from the loose 3rd one. The new style fits the modern approach, the modern approach the Julie character and the themes represent the wonderful flow of the Karate Kid music. It is one of Conti's best assignments as a whole. A creative and daring approach, making sure each score presented something new. In the first 2 he presented us the best music of all. And in the final ones he went for inventive new edges. The Next Karate Kid has the most inventive edge of those final 2. And so part 4 of four is where he ends the saga in style. The Karate Kid altogether are a dream come true of a Varèse Club release, so they deserve respect and honor. So honor that if you will.


1. The Next Karate Kid (0.23)
2. Regiment of Heroes (1.25)
3. Julie Storms Out (3.16)
4. Cops Chase Julie (1.09)
5. Trainyard Emotions (2.16)
6. 3MI (2.11)
7. The Pizza Guy (0.32)
8. Julie and Miyagi (3.04)
9. Julie's Fight (3.50)
10. Monk Headquarters (1.27)
11. Dining With Monks (2.51)
12. Julie / San Satori (2.26) Excellent track
13. Training Montage (2.11) Excellent track
14. Zen Archery (1.46)
15. Welcome Home Julie (0.44)
16. Rooftop Fight (1.06)
17. Angel Flies (3.19) Excellent track
18. The Monks Arrive (1.50)
19. Miyagi Tears (1.39)
20. Bowling for Monks (1.05)
21. The Alphas Drop In (0.56)
22. The Alphas Clobber Eric (3.14)
23. Julie Fights (3.43)
24. Miyagi's Big Fight (3.35) Excellent track

Total Length: 49.58
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 6 votes - average 3.67/5)

Released by

Varèse Sarabande CD Club MO 0307 1059-4.2 (limited release 2007)

Orchestrations by

Jack Eskew