Published on July 19th, 2010 | by jentertainment3
The Karate Kid Review
It’s a summer of sequels and remakes and the Karate Kid will surely be of interest to people like me who adored the original 1984 Karate kid. This movie sees Jaden Smith in a starring role after appearing in The Pursuit of Happyness in 2006 with his father Will Smith. The film centers around Dre Parker, a 12-year old boy from Detroit. Look at this guy, he’s not the awkward geeky Daniel Larusso that we loved in the original Karate Kid, but he is a fish out of water. His father has died and he is forced to move to China with his mother without any knowledge of the culture or language. Life turns sour for Dre when he is targeted by school bullies, all of whom are students of kung fu. There’s been a lot of debate about why this is called The Karate Kid when it is in fact Kung-Fu that features in the film. We’ll start off on the right foot with an explanation of this fact according to producer Ken Stovitz. “The reason the movie is called The Karate Kid is that at the beginning of the movie, Dre thinks he can fight the bullies with a little karate he knows,” says Stovitz. “But in China even the kids know kung fu and they’re experts. So if Dre is going to survive, he has to learn kung fu. Of course, calling the movie The Karate Kid also seemed like a good way to honor the movie that came before.”
This movie makes a conscious effort to not replicate the original Karate Kid completely but rather to take the core values and make them appealing for a modern teenage audience. With violent movies aimed at teenage audiences being released left, right and centre it’s no surprise that The Karate Kid is much more hardcore this time around. The movie is most definitely more violent than the original, which shows that teenage audiences have become somewhat desensitized to violence in films. The fight sequences are very well done and were the most enjoyable part of the film for me. The other aspect I really enjoyed about this film was its China setting. As the original Karate Kid was set in California, it is a refreshing change of pace to see this tale with a different cultural spin.
It wasn’t until Jackie Chan was cast as Dre’s mentor Mr.Han that China was considered. Chan was delighted about this aspect of the film. “This movie will give audiences a chance to learn about Chinese culture as well as Chinese martial arts. Such a wonderful promotion,” he exclaimed. The film certainly is a beautiful showcase of China itself. From the first day that Dre steps out of his new home, we are treated to a spectacle of Chinese culture. From dancing to ping pong with beautiful scenery in between. The movie even features a look at the Tiananmen Gate and inside the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City is known as such because it was home of the Emperor of China and seat of power from 1420 until 1912, when the last emperor of China abdicated; no one could enter or leave the palace without the express permission of the Emperor. Although only given two hours to film in this location, this was the first film production to film there in over 20 years, very few productions are given permission to capture the captivating surroundings. The Great Wall and the Wudang Mountains also play big parts in Dre’s kung fu training.
The Wudang Mountains look stunning on camera; those mystical mountains located in central China are up so high that the cast, crew, and equipment had to be transported via cable car and then climb steep stone steps to get to the top of the temple. There is a forbidden love story thrown in that teenage girls are bound to love between Dre and Mei Ying (Wen Wen Han). The nicest moment of this relationship envelopes us even further into Chinese culture with a date to the Qi Xi Festival falls which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month on the Chinese calendar and is sometimes known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. One of the most visually striking scenes is of the Beijing Shaolin Wushu School and focuses on 400 students dressed in traditional red gi. The school was established in 1991 and teaches students a wushu-style philosophy. All of the kids in the film are full time students in wushu martial arts, a physically demanding, active kung fu sport taught and practiced in China.
Jaden Smith has asked his ku fu teacher to continue his training since the movie wrapped. “I want to stay buff,” says Smith. “If Taylor Lautner ever needs a stunt double, I’m ready for action.”
Rating: 7/10 As a separate entity to the original, this is a pretty good film set against a beautiful backdrop. The acting especially from Jackie Chan is great and it still has the same themes that we loved in the original. A modern day homage.
Recommended for: Those looking for a fun summer romp, blockbuster lovers, teenagers, people who love to root for underdogs, those interested in China.
Not recommended for: If you didn’t like the original Karate Kid, then you might not like this and those that can’t stand even a little cheese in their films.
If you’re unsure about whether you should go see it when it’s released on July 28th, here’s a report from the London Premiere with some interviews and bits of the movie: