(Photo by Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection)

Karate Kid Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

The Rocky formula struck gold again with The Karate Kid, resonating with audiences upon its 1984 debut, and inspiring a new generation with peak physical attitude and its classic underdog story. They were both directed by John G. Avildsen, who imbues these sporting films with grounded humanity, and both, mirroring their hero’s journey, were small productions that few believed in before making a big impact upon American culture.

Ralph Macchio stars as Daniel LaRusso who is uprooted from bucolic New Jersey to the hard-scrabbled open arena of the San Fernando Valley, taking up martial arts to defend (some say instigate?) in fights with SoCal toughs. Pat Morita is his mentor and sensei, Mr. Miyagi, and across the first three films form one of the iconic movie duos of the 1980s and beyond. In writing and portrayal of Miyagi, there is depth and history to the Okinawa-born World War II U.S. vet, and Morita was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, the first Asian-American to do so.

The Karate Kid grossed $130 upon release, launching a franchise that was quickly fleshed out with The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid Part III (1989). Macchio departed but Norita stuck around for 1994’s The Next Karate Kid, starring Hilary Swank. A reboot, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, was released in 2010, and unlike the last few entries, that one was a swift box office success near on par with the original.

Next, the series took it inside, direct to internet and streaming, with the Cobra Kai series starting in 2018, starring William Zabka as long-time franchise foil Johnny Lawrence in a re-examined center role. Just like most else with the Karate Kid series, expectations were laughably low but it’s endured as a sleeper hit and now a pop cultural force in its own right.

And in 2025, it’s back to theaters with an yet-to-be-titled sequel (though signs point to Karate Kid), which will combine all timelines of the Miyagi-verse, with the 2010 reboot’s Chan mixing it up with Macchio. Until then, we’re ranking all The Karate Kid movies by Tomatometer!

#1

The Karate Kid (1984)
90%

#1
Adjusted Score: 93943%
Critics Consensus: Utterly predictable and wholly of its time, but warm, sincere, and difficult to resist, due in large part to Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio's relaxed chemistry.
Synopsis: Daniel (Ralph Macchio) moves to Southern California with his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller), but quickly finds himself the target of... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#2

The Karate Kid (2010)
66%

#2
Adjusted Score: 74475%
Critics Consensus: It may not be as powerful as the 1984 edition, but the 2010 Karate Kid delivers a surprisingly satisfying update on the original.
Synopsis: When his mother's career results in a move to China, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) finds that he is a... [More]
Directed By: Harald Zwart

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 47806%
Critics Consensus: Like countless sequels, The Karate Kid Part II tries upping the stakes without straying too far from formula -- and suffers diminishing returns as a result.
Synopsis: After learning that his father is dying, karate master Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita) returns home to Okinawa, bringing his... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 17454%
Critics Consensus: Inspiration is in short supply in this third Karate Kid film, which recycles the basic narrative from its predecessors but adds scenery-chewing performances and a surprising amount of violence.
Synopsis: Cobra Kai karate instructor John Kreese (Martin Kove) is still brooding over the defeat handed to him by Daniel LaRusso... [More]
Directed By: John G. Avildsen

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 8418%
Critics Consensus: The Next Karate Kid is noteworthy for giving audiences the chance to see a pre-Oscars Hilary Swank, but other than a typically solid performance from Pat Morita, this unnecessary fourth installment in the franchise has very little to offer.
Synopsis: Karate master Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita) goes to Boston to attend a military reunion. There, he visits with Louisa... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Cain