In what seems to be a weekend of 80s remakes – The Karate Kid was revived for a new generation. If you’ve seen the original you were probably in uproar like me about this remake. How could Jackie Chan replace Pat Morita? Jaden Smith is too young for this role? Why even remake it?
So was it as bad as some people said it would be? Did the remake do enough to rise above the below-par remakes Hollywood has been making recently?
Revamped Karate Kid sees 12 year old Dre Parker (Smith), a Detroit native forced to relocate to China with his widowed mum Sherry (Henson). Upon arrival, he encounters Mei Ying (Han), an aspiring violinist trying to get into the Beijing School of Music. He also unfortunately attracts the attention of the local school bully Cheng (Wang) who severely beats him up (yeah it felt so real!).
In comes Mr Han (Chan) to the rescue. He is their maintenance man and secretly a master of kung fu. He reluctantly starts training young Dre, not for beating people up mind you, but to fight in the upcoming kung fu tournament.
The story is the same as the original except instead of Japanese karate we get kung fu from China. The directors seem to have not made that distinction and still went with the current title. The cinematography is just simply stunning – what else did you except from China? The soundtrack is pretty great both the score by the genius that is James Horner and the music track. The themes dealt in this movie do at times feel a little too mature for its young counterparts but it doesn’t detract from the movie too much.
A great family movie with an inspired performance from Jackie Chan who doesn’t attempt to copy Pat Morita’s Mr Miyagi but rather create his own character. Smith has a lot of charisma on screen and has clearly trained in fighting scenes as his posture and kicks were pretty accurate. Despite a predictable storyline, we still get a great film that is not a stain on the original with a fantastic showcase of actual martial arts (the fighting scenes are nothing short of spectacular!). This movie however does not forget where it came from and pays homage to the original in some funny ways.
So go see it, take the kids (though it is a little on the long side) but don’t forget to show them the original where it all began.