The Karate Kid: Movie Review
The Karate Kid
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan
Director: Harald Zwart
When you remake a classic, you're almost faced with an impossible task -
improving an original respectfully and updating it for a new generation.
This version of the Karate Kid begins with Jaden Smith's 12 year old Dre
Parker packing to leave Detroit as he and his widowed mum ( ) get ready to move
to China for her new job.
But no sooner does Dre get to China and tries to settle into a life there, he
finds himself squarely in trouble of the bullying kind after making googly eyes
at a local girl.
When the bullies batter him, he ends up being saved by Jackie Chan's Mr Han -
and determined to make sure he gets his revenge, he asks Han to teach him the
kung fu ways after seeing a local academy in action.
So begins Little Dre's initiation into the martial arts - and on a collision
course in a karate tournament with the bullies who blight his daily
This new version of The Karate Kid isn't a bad attempt at revitalizing the
franchise. Jackie Chan's dour Mr Han is in keeping with Chan's more recent roles
as the sad underdog; his Mr Han is a damaged man who has a secret which is
ripping his life apart.
And Jaden Smith is a surprise as Dre - the kid's got charisma (which is blown
in some scenes) and presence worthy of his father Will; he's also got that
cheeky way with a role which clearly runs in the family. He also shows a great
degree of vulnerability in the role for one so young.
It's a little overlong in parts - and with a fair few slow mo shots of the
training coupled with a crescendo of music to ensure the point is hammered home,
it does lose its way at times when a bit of subtlety would have sufficed.
And the bullies' predilection for "No mercy" kung fu is clearly at odds with
Dre and Han's approach which doesn't make the ultimate showdown as morally
engaging as it could have been.
Yet, there's a genuine affection between the pair in their training
partnership and the writers of this film have shied away from directly copying
the infamous Wax On, Wax Off scene preferring shots of Dre hanging up a coat,
dropping it on the floor and putting it on under Han's tutelage to teach him
what he needs to know.
I have to admit to being quite partial to Chan's underacting - his sombre
tone lends a credibility to this film and makes the scenes when he busts out the
kung fu more thrilling.
Ultimately this Karate Kid just falls just a little short when compared to
the original but thanks to the bond between the two, it's reasonable enough