Did I fall into a hot tub time machine? The A-Team and Karate Kid in one weekend is almost too much for any child of the 80’s to handle. I had a surprisingly good time at the A-Team (although critically bad) but would the new Karate Kid have similar success? I think the wise Mr Miyagi would say, “if done right, no can defense“. Let’s see if it was done right.
If you don’t know what Karate Kid is about, you deserve a side kick to the head. Turn off your computer and watch it now. So I will save you all time and say that this story is pretty much identical to the first with the exception of location and names. They move, the kid gets picked on, he learns Kung Fu, and kicks butt at the finale tournament. So let me start with the positives of this new version.
Overall, this is an enjoyable film. They take their time not to rush the story, it drags a little but I do appreciate that it breaths throughout. Jaden Smith may not be a great actor but he was winning me over during the course of the movie. His charm is undeniable, which is no surprise since he is obviously drawing from the talented genetic gene pool from his mother and father- and it shows through in the expressions. He looks like a younger, reincarnated version of the Fresh Prince, which is good in some scenes and not so good in others. Certainly no Oscar buzz from this role but I look forward to what Jaden will develop in the future. I love that the beauty and wonder of China was on display. It borderlines on a travel promo for the country but nevertheless it was still captivating. Fight scenes were at a minimum but were at premium quality. The best part of this film is Jackie Chan. For his first non-action role, his dramatic portrayal of Mr Han helped anchor this story. He had big (or small?) shoes to fill and he did an impressive job. Pat Morita still did it better but Chan delivered with what he had to work with and brought some uniqueness to the role. The antagonist Cheng (counter part to 84 ‘s ‘Johnny’) is quite the formable foe. As a 39 year old, would not want to mess with this 13 year old that clearly has anger issues. Now on the negatives.
Let me make something clear, this is not a re-boot by any stretch of the imagination. It is a clear RIP OFF of the original down to scenes and lines. My question is, why remake an almost perfect film as the orignal Karate Kid? Were they hoping to make it better, not likely. So why copy it verbatim in parts. All the major plot points are there and there is nothing left to reveal by the end. It’s no wonder that the original writer is credited because they basically just applied a new director to his old script. There are absolutely no risk taking and its predestined path ruins the moment at times. Why is this movie set in China? Do we not have enough Asians here in the states? There is no reference to the fact that they are in a communist country or in a hyper controlled environment. The fact that after Cheng loses the tournament that he and his family will probably be imprisoned for life as well as his Master and Dojo operation shut down for bringing the motherland shame. They just wanted to pimp out the scenery which is a waste of potential storytelling. There is also a needless romantic story which again, harkens back to the original. In my opinion, these kids are just too young to make it convincing and would have served better as a solid friendship. Do we really need to see a kissing scene with 12 year old kids? Blech! I guess in an effort to appeal to the ‘tweener’ audience, the romance is awkwardly shoe horned in. There is also a dance scene with Meiying which is way too sexy and it’s just embarrassing. Finally, this worst problem with this movie is that it is a soul-less xerox copy of the first. It’s a slick production but without the heart or passion that drove the Karate Kid franchise.
Like the A-Team, I was very skeptical of this remake. The trailers and pics did not win me over so my expectations were pretty low. To my surprise, I did enjoy this film. It was fun and any guy can relate to the hardships of being the new kid in town. It’s PG so this would be good to see with your pre-teen or early teen sons if they can withstand some graphic fight scenes. However, I am curious to how this Twilight generation would rate this version 2.0 in comparison with the first. For me, I had some ‘kicks’ watching this but it still was a far second to the Macchio and Morita’s masterpiece.