|DVD The Karate Kid
Run time: 140 min
Genres: Action | Drama | Family
Director: Harald Zwart
Writers: Christopher Murphey, Robert Mark Kamen
Stars: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson
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. Written by Columbia Pictures
|Plot Keywords: kung fu, kid, bully, china, karate|
Country: USA, China
Release Date: 28 July 2010 (UK)
Budget: $40,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: £4,882,306 (UK) (30 July 2010)
Gross: $176,591,618 (USA) (17 September 2010)
This movie, more so than any film this year, has had the most "noise" generated. Mostly from people ignorant of the film and just exactly how good or bad it is. The discussion has been centered on why call it "The Karate Kid" if he is learning Kung Fu. It is easy; the name is recognition and "Kung Fu Kid" sounds like a ripoff, not a remake and this is a remake and they are not hiding the fact. Enough said, explanation done, go back to your bowl of cereal.
This film takes what was done in the original film and has nicely upgraded across the board. First, we have more of a threat from the kid doing the bullying this time around rather than a caricature. The mother/son dynamic is stronger and given much more screen time. The romance is more playful and innocent, with the friendship aspect ultimately being the plot focus. The student/teacher dynamic has an even stronger father/son underlying tone and finally, the action is much much improved upon.
All of the above is due to excellent performances across the board. Jaden Smith shows to be a more than capable actor in the making and with no doubt observation of Chan, who we FINALLY get to see in a dramatic role rather than action/comedy role. Smith and Chan have a fun chemistry that helps make the film enjoyable.
I was afraid through the ads that Smith's abilities would be over the top great, but through an excellent training montage and philosophical lessons, we buy that this kid is as good as he is in the tournament.
A standout moment for me was the final bonding scene between Chan and Smith. It is during a moment reminiscent of the original film's scene where Daniel finds out about Mr. Miagi's family. Here, we have a similar scene, but it is what happens after it that establishes their relationship and seals the audiences relationship to these two characters. Excellent excellent scene.
One other standout moment is the climax where they do a great job of ending the movie on a pitch perfect note. I had heard of audiences literally standing up and cheering, but I figured that was embellished. That is until the very same thing happened at the showing I caught this afternoon. You literally do want to stand up and cheer. They also take the moment a step further than the original did and provided an close to the lesson that Jackie's Mr Han was teaching Smith's Dre. It became a full circle lesson and really helped the movie have an even more satisfying end.
The extended scenes of life in China really help to ground this film in the philosophical realm, even more so than the original. There is a richness and texture to everything that takes place against the backdrop of China. It has an even more "fish out of water" feel that lends to the believability and desperation of Smith's character. We also have a lot more character building time spent in this film that gives it about 13 more minutes run time than the original, but those extra moments really pay off in a big way. As I mentioned previously, we get more of Dre and his mom. They don't just show up and then she gets thrown into a few scenes like in the original. She is an important part of Dre's life and it is shown.
The one thing I noticed the most about this film was the amount of families that attended it. I think it is the first film of the year where adults and kids can go and enjoy a film together and both come out with the same emotions and lessons learned. That would be a reflection of the film itself as it shows Mr Han learning from his student, something that gives the film a welcome twist when compared to the original.
Those that have pre-judged this film or gotten caught up in the name game really need to see the film before they make any judgments. This film is a VERY welcome surprise and more than holds it own against the original. It stays loyal to the lessons and relationships of the original film and brings them forward 25 years later.
I will be the first to admit that I am a major fan of the the first Karate Kid and not a fan of Jaden Smith. However, I went into this movie expecting to be disappointed in Jaden and walked away disappointed in 3 totally different things. After watching this film, I am convinced that Will Smith bought off the critics and those that voted this highly or said this was better than the original were 1 of 3 things 1) A plant of the studio or close friends. 2) under the influence, or 3) too busy getting physically pleasured to really focus. This film had 3 major flaws and Jadens acting ability or lack thereof was the least of this films worries and truthfully, though I don't think Jaden can act his way out of a paper bag, his performance didn't help or hurt the film, I think he was the same as he was in the others. with that said, I will say that his martial arts skills were good and it's obvious that he put in a lot of work and effort into learning the form. I'll give credit where credit is due and for that reason I give this a 4. However, this film lacks the 3 C's. Cohesion, Chemistry and Character development. Lets start with Cohesion.
Cohesion: For those that don't know what cohesion means, its the glue that holds and strings things together, makes it flow seamlessly. If you have A-C cohesion would be "B". There were a lot of A's and C's no B's.This film left you wondering many times "how did we get here?" Lets put aside the fact that Jaden is in a new country and doesn't know the language. I found it very interesting how he and his mother got around so well with just having got there. There was no explanation for much of anything at all and at times it appeared that things were thrown in just to have an excuse to have a love interest, or for Jaden to be bullied or for his mom to have some dialogue. Like the original Karate Kid or not, did you at any point feel "this movie is dragging along?" Which brings me to…
Chemistry: There was none AT ALL, it felt like a 1 night stand. No ones performance made me give a damn about their cause. Some say well Ralph Macchio didn't give an Oscar worthy performance. Well he didn't have to be Daniel Day Lewis in the film because he and Pat Morita had chemistry. Ralph was raw and natural and Pat's comedic timing and seriousness was on point every time. You cared about them. Billy Zabka and his croonies had personality you hated them and even cheered for Johnny at times, Daniels mom, Lucille had ridiculous personality, even sensei was personable. I felt too much was rushed and an attempt to include nostalgia. Chan was decent in here, but he and Jaden did not bond well at all, nor did Jaden and his mother. This was not a role for Taraji, Elise Neal would have been better. The girl was just thrown in for the sake of a cute girl and introduction to the bully, which takes me to my final point..
Character development: It is hard to have cohesiveness and chemistry if your characters are poorly developed. Yes this is a Karate Kid remake and don't lie and say its not, some of the exact same dialogue, exact same scenarios, changing the country and training/learning tools does not make it a re-imagining, a re imagined film doesn't use anything pre existing. But how you can not build the characters is beyond me. Again, Dre's mom was just in their for the sake of Dre having a mother. She did a lot of non sensible things. I mean where did she work for heavens sakes? We knew Lucille was working at the computer place and then the orient restaurant. She let him just do kung fu with Mr. Han without any knowledge of him. Han didn't fix a bike or anything. Lucille knew Miyagi he did a few things before befriending Daniel. Johnny the spoiled brat had great development, Ali from the hills, Sensei the Vietnam vet who was militant. Can you honestly tell me why the bully in this remake was the way he was and who in the hell was sensei, what is his background? The story telling was simply awful, everything was just plain rushed. So I am not going to bash this movie because of Jadens braids or his skin color or because of his rich daddy. I am recommending not to see this because its flat out boring. My 10 year old daughter finds joy in almost any film, she fell asleep on this one, we were at the drive in, people where driving away. Oh and Jadens dialogue near the end before his absurd comeback, sounded like he was tired of filming and just wanted to get the lines over with. Ralph may not be stellar, but at least you cared about his character and the supporting cast. Remove the characters from this film and see what difference it makes. Meaning, if you take out Ali from KK1, you will feel something is missing. Remove the chick from this one and any cause could replace her, not saying she wasn't good at her role, it just wasn't memorable or necessary.
I'll put it like this, when you walked away from the original KK and even to this day, you don't call Pat Morita, Pat Morita, you see his photo and you say "that's Mr. Miyagi" you see Ralph, you don't call him Ralph, you call him Daniel -san" Their characters were believable. you walk from this and its Jaden and Jackie Chan. I hope JW (Jerry Weintraub) got paid good for this, because this is beneath him. Poor character development, poor story. The end
Clumsy exposition that is trying to be subtle, but ends up being super direct, in that intellectually insulting way. From the beginning to the end, this movie really talks down to its audience, even if the demographic aimed at is children. I found myself laughing at serious scenes which were not only bizarre but ridiculously overreaching. I really hate it when stories explain directly what is painfully obvious, or try to insert it, in unrealistic and absurd ways.
Jacket on and Jacket off is no wax on wax off. At least in the original film, Daniel thought he was being put to work, here it's just outright bizarre. Jaden's character seems to be oblivious of the obvious, and unquestioning of the ridiculous.
Ralph Macchio's performance was far more believable. Jaden Smith goes way to far way too quick, from wimp to kung fu champion. The exaggeration and elaborate fight scenes really removed me from a sense of realism, that its predecessor had.
I found the mother character to be at odds with this move. I would have preferred if her role was downplayed. She was ultimately lacking chemistry with Jaden and not an interesting character, mostly annoying.
Just a quick comparison with Pat Morita and Jacky Chan. Chan is flash with Chinese superstition. Pat was subtle with universal wisdom and was far more endearing.
There is just far too much mundane filler, it really slows the movie down and in conclusion when this movie wasn't extremely bizarre, I found it to be more flash than substance.
From the previews I knew this movie wasn't going to do justice to the original. I mean, can anything? I wasn't planning on watching it, but my best friend wanted to see it and I gave in. Bad idea. It was a waste of my money.
First and foremost, let us point out what a lot of people have already mentioned. Jayden Smith cannot act. Like, at all. I don't care if he's Will Smith's son, it's not like acting is genetic. He was just trying too hard to be funny, and too hard to be serious. It didn't seem natural, like he was in the moment. Just him… acting. Of course, I can't say the same for Jackie Chan. He didn't do much, and that was good! Not that I don't like Jackie Chan, it's just it's good to see him as a trainer for once. I wish he would have fought more, though.
Secondly, the plot sucked. I mean, it was a bunch of middle-schoolers flying. Like, I get China is a little crazy on the Kung Fu, but come on! The fighting scene where "Dre" is running from the Chinese kids is not that bad of a scene, I'll admit, but it kept occurring to me that these kids are like 10 and 12. Then there's the whole Dre and Chinese girl romance thing. I was falling asleep every time they were together. I mean, you're 12! As someone else on IMDb said, there is no sexual tension! Sure it's family-orientated, but it's uninteresting to the rest.
Then the predictability. The friend who dragged me there told me half of the whole movie, and she's never watched it before. It's so boring sitting there knowing what's going to happen. Of course, he was going to win, of course he was going to run faster. Of course Jackie Chan would save him, like, I didn't even have to watch the whole thing to know what was going to happen.
Also, a lot of the scenes were pointless. I can see why the movie was so long. I can only imagine if they have an extended version! Dre drinking from the Dragon water or whatever, what did that do? I also didn't understand why Jackie was so reluctant to teach Dre at first. I imagined it had something to do with the crazy trainer, but with all the time they had, never developed a true story. Okay, so he got into an accident and killed his wife and kid… I'm sorry? Like, what does that have to really do with anything?
Overall, it wasn't worth watching. Or maybe it's not a movie you'd watch twice, because I sure as hell won't. God forbid they make a sequel.