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The Karate Kid (2010)

A Remake of the 80's original film.

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I Promise Teach You Kung Fu, You Promise Learn

  • Jun 11, 2010
"The Karate Kid" is very much a worthy counterpart to the 1984 film on which it's based, not only in terms of story, but also in terms of quality; the excitement, humor, warmth, and themes of friendship, maturity, and overcoming adversity have been left intact, and better still, there's no sense that any of it has been cheapened or simplified to the sake of appealing to a mass audience. The only exception, and I'm really just nitpicking here, is a glorious but contrived aerial shot of martial arts training directly on the Great Wall of China, the helicopter camera zooming around Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith as they pose dramatically. If there was ever an image that belonged in a Chinese tourism commercial, this would be it.

A more substantial criticism is that, because this is such a faithful remake, there isn't much it can do to surprise us. Anyone familiar with the 1984 film will know exactly how this new version will play out, from the main character's awkward arrival at the start to the climactic tournament at the end. There is a bit of an inconsistency; because it takes place in China, the featured martial art is kung fu, not karate, so the title is technically inaccurate. There's also the convenience of all the important characters being able to speak English, if not fluently, then just enough to get their point across. But it's all done so well that we may find ourselves suppressing the desire to look for flaws and make comparisons. What would be the point? Remake or not, this movie stands entirely on its own as a great entertainment, not just as a sports drama and a spectacle but also as a coming-of-age story, which is just as charming and insightful as it was twenty-six years ago.

Smith plays twelve-year-old Dre Parker, who's forced to move from Detroit to Beijing with his mother (Taraji P. Henson). He doesn't much care for it, although he does immediately develop a crush on a good-natured girl named Mei Ying (Han Wenwen), a violin prodigy. Unfortunately, this introduces him to the sadistic school bully, Cheng (Wang Zhenwei), who quickly and brutally takes him down in full view of the other kids. How did he become so aggressive? A visit to a local kung fu class explains everything: Cheng's teacher, Master Li (Rongguang Yu), has taught him to be merciless when fighting his enemies. Mercy, he says, is for the weak. Dre, both small-statured and a foreigner, is considered a weakling. The idea that the underdog is separated by culture as well as by status is something the original film never had the chance to explore. It's a welcome addition.

So is Jackie Chan, who takes the reins from the late Pat Morita and transforms Mr. Miyagi into Mr. Han, a reclusive janitor who agrees to train Dre for an upcoming kung fu tournament. After his disastrous starring role in "The Spy Next Door," I had my doubts that Chan would be able to pull this off. I was happily proven wrong; this is his most mature and compelling performance to date, having been given the opportunity to genuinely act and not merely be a goofy action star. We see range. We see depth. We can conceivably feel something for his character. And for once, the kung fu moves he built his reputation on are actually in service of the story. He's not a stuntman showing off - he's a wise elder trying to make a point, and just like with Pat Morita's character, it involves a menial task that must be done repeatedly, almost to the point of a compulsion.

Some may object to the puppy love between Dre and Mei Ying, paling in comparison to the original film's teenage love between Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue. While I agree that there's no such thing as romance before puberty, I am aware that those tween years see the emergence of hormones, and I can certainly believe that Dre and Mei Ying would have their first kiss by the light of a rear-screen projector. There's no sense believing that they're falling in love, because they're not. If anything, they form a sweet and innocent friendship, one made stronger by the fact that both are being tested by their own life circumstances. And much like the divide between Dre and Cheng, both are threatened by cultural differences, Mei Ying's parents fearful that a musically uninspired American boy will be a bad influence on her. Like all good boys, he just wants make a fine first impression.

A stretch in the middle of the film reveals views of mist-shrouded mountains and tours of ancient temples, where kung fu students practice rigorously. This is perhaps a bit conventional, but it's also undeniably breathtaking. I'm addressing that last observation to those who can't bring themselves to see this movie for its story or its characters - maybe the visuals will win them over. Still, don't be so quick to dismiss everything else it has to offer. Yes, "The Karate Kid" is yet another Hollywood remake, but that doesn't change the fact that it tells an engaging story with interesting characters and features good performances. I greatly enjoyed this movie, and if you go into it with an open mind, I think you will too.

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More The Karate Kid (2010) reviews
review by . January 03, 2011
Having not seen the original Karate Kid for many years, the content, story and overall feel of the original is simply lost in the annals of time as a result of my terrible memory. So with that, I'll say that my review will be written as if the original Karate Kid movie had never been made and this was an entirely original piece. For me to try and make a comparison would create a review based on false ideas and comparisons, which is not what I want my reviews to be.    The film …
review by . June 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars: An Unnecesary Remake But Yet Proves To Be Very Entertaining!
2010’s remake of 1984’s “Karate Kid” has been titled different in different countries. Director Harald Zwart’s film was called ‘The Kung Fu Kid” in China, “The Best Kid” in Japan and South Korea while U.S. audiences are stuck to the original film’s title “The Karate Kid”. My first complaint with the film’s title is that why call a film “Karate Kid” when it is clearly about a teen who learns Kung Fu and yet …
review by . June 12, 2010
An Homage To The Classic Karate Kid?
Many of us grew up watching The Karate Kid and I fall into that category. It has many beloved characters in Daniel Larusso, Mr. Myiagi, and the infamous Cobra Kai dojo and their students and  their merciless instructor. So why remake this classic? What's in it for those who grew up with the original and those who are seeing this reboot for the first time?      Before the Karate Kid purists get mad that things were changed it's important to remembered what actually …
Quick Tip by . July 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Entertaining & quite clearly a movie made for the western audience. Proven formula of the underdog emerges victor. However, for someone who has lived and/or is familiar with the landscape of China, it is most unsettling to see how a scene jump from one locale to another that's thousands of miles away! Reminded me of what they did with scenes from Mission Impossible III where Tom Cruise ran from Xitang (a watertown about an hour drive from Shanghai) to Shanghai!!! Truly quite impossible ;-) Beijing …
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I liked this i was worried about watching this cause i didn't like the first karate kid got to love the kick at the end.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I feel sorry for Jackie Chan thinking back to the films he worked so hard on to where his career is now. At least the money's good. Can we have another Rush Hour please?
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I loved the new version because it offered a new take on the remake. Very awesome :P
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
No Ralph Macchio or Larry B Scott? What the Hell? How rude...
Quick Tip by . March 17, 2010
posted in Movie Trailers
Hanging a jacket on a coat hanger and taking it off isn't the same as painting a fence. Macchio got things done!
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Poster art for "The Karate Kid."

The Karate Kid, known as The Kung Fu Dream in China and Best Kid in Japan and South Korea, is a 2010 martial artsremakeof the 1984 film of the same name. Directed by Harald Zwart, produced by Willand Jada Pinkett Smith, the remake stars Jackie Chanand Jaden Smith.
Principal photographyfor the film took place in Beijing, China; filming began around July 2009 and ended on October 16, 2009. The Karate Kid was released theatrically in the United Stateson June 11, 2010 and Singaporea day earlier on June 10, 2010.
The plot concerns a 12-year-old boy from Detroit who moves to China with his mother and runs afoul of the neighborhood bully. He makes an unlikely ally in the form of his aging maintenance man, Mr. Han, a kung fu master who teaches him the secrets to self-defense.
12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mother, Sherry (Taraji P. Henson), arrive in Beijing from West Detroit to start a new life. Dre develops a crush on a young violinist, Mei Ying (Wen Wen Han), who reciprocates his attention, but Cheng (Zhenwei Wang), a kung fu  prodigy whose family is close to Mei Ying's, attempts to keep them apart by beating Dre, and later harassing and humiliating him in and around school. During a particularly brutal beating by Cheng and his friends, the enigmatic maintenance man of Dre's building, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), comes to Dre's aid, revealing himself as a kung fu master who adeptly dispatches Dre's tormentors.
After Han mends Dre's ...
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Director: Harald Zwart
Genre: Family
Release Date: June 11, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 140 Min
Studio: Columbia Pictures
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