Everyone, at on time or another, has pictured themselves as the hero or heroine of a great adventure story. High school student Barry (Jonathan Brandis) likes to pass time in his classrooms by day dreaming of his hero, Chuck Norris. He dreams that he's part of Norris' movies, like Lone Wolf McQuade and Missing In Action and as his side kick, he helps Chuck out of tough scrapes by using his karate prowess.
Barr's an asthmatic, who sits on the sidelines during gym and is picked on by his classmates, especially by Cellini, a bully who's a top student at Stone's Karate School.
Barry's dad (Beau Bridges), an easy going computer programmer, and a caring teacher, Noreen Chen, thinks the boy would stop dreaming if he took karate lessons, but they're scared off by the egomaniac who owns Stone School, played by a pumped-up, grunting, cartoonish Joe Piscopo (Saturday Night Live alumnus).
To get Barry more involved, Miss Chen asks her uncle, Mr. Lee (Mako), part-time Chinese cook and part-time karate master, into taking Barry under his wing to help him build his self-confidence and teach him some karate moves.
At first, the pale, sickly boy has trouble handling the slightest physical exertion, but slowly he gets stronger and along with that strength, Norris' role in Barry's dreams starts to diminish.
The film climaxes with Barry competing in a statewide karate tournament, pitted against his nemesis, Cellini.
Norris, while given star billing, is a minor player here, Brandis has the major role and is great to watch. With his shyness, pale complexion and thin body, he could almost disappear from view but he's got a nice quality that makes you care about this kid.
Beau Bridges makes a great dad, he's dependable and supportive, and Mako is funny, wiry and wise, everything an old karate teacher should be.
Although this film is not as good as the original Karate Kid, it's still a wonderful movie to take the kids to, where the weakling learns to fend for himself. It's like an old-fashioned Saturday matinee, where the lights go down in the theater you're mesmerized by the screen and the hero takes a backseat while you dream of yourself in the lead, taking the chances, landing the punches and winning the day! It's a terrific adventure.