Review: The Karate Kid

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Genre: Action/Drama/Family/Sport
Directed by: Harald Swart
Staring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Released: 11 June 2010

THE GENERAL IDEA

12-year-old Dre Parker could’ve been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother’s latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying – and the feeling is mutual – but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre’s feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts “the karate kid” on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han, who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life.

THE GOOD

I was surprised by this flick. I enjoyed it a lot. I was a little skeptical when I heard that the original 1984 classic (one of my childhood favorites) was going to get the reboot/remake treatment. After watching it, I can say that I’m at ease; this 2010 version ain’t bad. At the end of the day, the story (the true start of these movies) still hits all the the right notes. The cinematography in this movie is wonderful. We get to see beautiful shots of China; including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. The change of scenery, in this one, actually helps the movie/story. Also, the fighting sequences were great. For once, you could actually tell what was going on shot for shot. No shaky cam, no quick cuts. Chan and Smith were believable administering the Kung Fu.

Jackie Chan was a delight in this film. His Mr. Miyagi-ish role, Mr. Han, is one that is more gentle and serious. We all know he’s fighting skills are insane, but it was refreshing watching Chan get his groove back acting-wise. As for the actual Kid, Jaden Smith doesn’t have a problem being in front of the camera. Like his father, he is charming, likable and already shows hints of cockiness. Little Jaden shows lots of promise.

THE BAD

First off, why didn’t they also change/reboot the title of the film? It might as well been The Kung Fu Kid. There is no Karate in sight. I thought this was funny and a little distracting. Also, I thought the film was too long. The first act dragged a little bit; they should’ve trimmed it.

The fighting sequences were sometimes a little too violent. I didn’t mind this, but I know lots of people will state this; I can understand why. The kids harassing Dre were just too evil. Lol. And their coach was just straight-up mad/evil. I thought this was too exaggerated.

I could’ve done without the whole love story angle. I mean, this time around the Kid as actually a kid. Why try to make him fall in love etc? I didn’t think it was bad – just that I would’ve cut it down a little bit.

And finally, the final hiccup: Dre’s final finishing move. Personally, It was too cartoony/CGI-ish for me – Daniel’s classic kick is way cooler.

OVERALL

Overall, this updated version of the 1984 classic is surprisingly fun and charming. The story keeps being the true star of the film. Chan and Smith do a great job stepping into the shoes of this now classic characters. The movie includes beautiful cinematography. The various shots of China are just breathtaking; this change of scenery, helps inject some new life into the story. The fighting sequences are cool and can be followed pretty clearly. Minor setbacks include: the ironic title (no Karate?), a sluggish first act, and what some could say that various fighting sequences were a tad too evil and violent.

With that said, I definitely would suggest you go see this. If you’ve never seen the original classic, you need to check out the story this time around. Now, if you have seen the original, once you get over the fact that it’s been updated and has some differeces, it might surprise you. This 2010 version worked for me, I enjoyed it.

I give The Karate Kid a 6.7 out of 10

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