First, check out my old post about the trailer back in December…. ( https://justinquizon12.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/some-thoughts-on-the-karate-kid-remake/)
Did you read it? Great. I still stand by a few things I said in that write-up.
So, no matter what, there’s still going to be one that will bother me till the end…
The title….the god damn title….THERE IS ONE MINUTE OF ACTUAL TALK ABOUT KARATE IN THE WHOLE THING!!! And it’s a training video! THATS IT! Theres even a scene where Jaden Smiths character is correcting his mom that what he wanted to learn was “Kung Fu” not “Karate” and that there’s a big difference. Ok, if the 12 year child in this film can understand WHY couldn’t the studio?!
The title is a gigantic, idiotic and silly misnomer and it’s only more frustrating for me because I actually enjoyed the film.
Yep. I liked it.
The movie is like a really good cover song. Yes, it has basically all the words, all the beats of the original song, but it spins around enough so that it feels like they’re adding their own voice, their own take on it.
Actually, the fact that the film takes place in China makes it seem like they’re took some elements from The Karate Kid part II, which actually helps the film give it its different spin.
The original film’s story and character relationship were always the strongest things about it. The story of a kid wanting to not be scared and hating his new home, and the father/son/best friend relationship between mentor and student in the original Karate Kid still hold up to this day.
The new film does a good job on those elements as well.
The bully situation is played tough, and since they don’t use the classic ’80s stereotype blonde jerks, the new bullies are played with a more modern, palatable -street-kid-gang-style. It’s not any more realistic, but it is easier to swallow for modern taste.
While I originally poked fun at the idea of the Westerner in a foreign land, it actually helps strengthen the scenes in which Dre’s mom is trying to convince him how good their new life is since it is a new lifestyle.
The best thing they did in the whole film, is that they did not write Jackie Chan’s Mr. Han and Jaden Smith’s Dre as Mr. Miyagi and Daniel. Dre and Mr. Han are completely different characters from the original.
My instincts about Jackie Chan from the trailer were right. Jackie is fantastic here. He plays Mr. Han with wonderful sadness and pathos. Han’s a tired, broken down man, not the old friendly and loveable Miyagi. When Jackie gets to his big emotional scene (their version of the scene in which Miyagi is drunk and talking about his time in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team), he just nails it.
Jaden Smith’s Dre is a good first leading role for him. Jaden never plays it cute, never plays it like he winking at the camera. Dre is written as a likeable kid who’s down to earth, and Jaden pulls that off with charisma to spare (what the hell, is that shit like genetic?).
The rest of the cast pulls of their roles just as well. Taraji P. Henson is wonderful as Dre’s mom and Wenwn Han is adorable as the Meiying, the film’s version of Elizabeth Shue’s Alli combined with Tamlyn Tomita’s Kumiko.
As for the actual kung fu scenes, they’re well shot and enjoyable. Nothing too amazing, but fun and solid fights. Hell, the fight scene that I still like to poke fun at (Jackie fighting 11 year olds) is actually a fun Jackie Chan fight scene.
The films far from perfect.
There are a few scenes that I felt were studio notes for the film to make it more…chinese.
The Great Wall of China training, a walk in a Kung Fu monastery, the use of the yinyang symbol in one scene…I just sensed that the studio was like “add more chinese things so that they get that they’re in China”.
And to go back to the title one more time. The film has some wonderful, very soulful things to say about kung fu, the reason calling it “The Karate Kid” is more maddening because the discussion about Kung Fu is integral to the narrative.
Besides all that, the film works on its characters, which makes it easier to handle watching the film when the film sometimes just do the original films scenes word for word! Instead, your kinda tricked back into getting excited for the same story beats again.
Now is it better than the original? I can’t say that. The original holds a special place for me. I thankfully didn’t re watch the orignal for a while and I only just saw it again AFTER I watched the remake. The original still works on me like gangbusters, the new film will never replace it.
So if you want to enjoy the new film, leave the original out of your mind. If you still feel like you want to hate it, then save yourself the headache(and the money) and don’t bother.
It’s soild enough entertainment, and if thats what you want, then you won’t be disapointed.
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