Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The Karate Kid (2010)
After moving to Beijing with his mother, Dre (Jaden Smith) falls prey to a bully, so he takes lessons from martial arts master Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) in this remake of The Karate Kid. While Mr. Han teaches Dre to defend himself, he also imparts some important life lessons. Meanwhile, Dre struggles with the unfamiliar language and cultural barriers he encounters in his new country. Taraji P. Henson co-stars.
With his remake to 1984's classic The Karate Kid, Harold Zwart shows that he's capable of far more than his previous works have shown us. The tone he establishes in this underdog story of a young boy who learns to stand up for himself by way of martial arts and the man who teaches them to him is similar to a very good cover of a classic song; he reminds us why we love the old one while giving us reasons to appreciate the new version. The acting from Jaden Smith is easily the best we've seen from him to date, and Jackie Chan turns in a rare dramatic performance that makes us want to see more of that side of him. With beautiful cinematography and a solid story that follows the old but knows just how to deviate and keep us watching, this is one of the biggest and best surprises of 2010 to date.
Young Jaden Smith is truly a star in the making, and he shines bright in this revisioning of the 80s film "The Karate Kid." Some of his humorous moments are a little forced (though during many of his lines, you'd swear you were watching his father), but his dramatic scenes are startlingly natural and make me look forward to what his future career will bring. This film is a family-friendly crowd-pleaser (despite the awkwardness of watching romance between 12 year olds) - fans of the original should appreciate that the major plot points remain unchanged while modern details still allow a new generation to enjoy the story (and judging by the number of kids practicing spin kicks as they left the theater, that's exactly what happened). There are a few too many sweeping shots of gorgeous Chinese landscapes, but as would be expected, this movie shows only the beautiful side of China. Get lost, if you will, in debates over kung fu vs. karate or Jackie Chan vs. Pat Morita or even remakes vs. originals, but here's a suggestion - let it go. This movie has a lot of heart, and if you let yourself, you will still have fun rooting for Dre even though you already know how the tournament ends.