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The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate Kid (2010)

What he said:

He

The original Karate Kid is a very corny and cliché movie, but that is also what so many people love about it! It is the definition of 80s cheese. No other decade provided us with these awesomely bad (yet good) movies. They were the kind of movie you could both love and laugh at simultaneously. The clothing, music montages, it was all hilarious, but the movie maintained a very simple message you could get behind. So to say this remake had a lot to live up to is putting it lightly.

While there are certainly many scenes in which this movie draws parallels to the original, it was smart enough to attempt to make itself its own movie. The biggest change in this movie is the age of the characters. They are still children more than they are young adults and that added a certain charm to me. While it was a remake of The Karate Kid, the movie also had a youthful sense of adventure, much in the way The Goonies (or something similar) would. A smart move imo, because you were never going to capture teen audiences in the same way the original did. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think teens are even interested in that kind of feel good message anymore. So making it a family film paid dividends.

Having the film take place in China was also a nice touch. The movie is simply nice to look at. There is lots of architecture and scenery that are really just very nice to look at.

I also really enjoyed the chemistry between Jaden Smith and his young co-star Wenwen Han. I foudn it very endearing and innocent. There was no drama that often comes with the teenage years. Sure the characters face issues, but it's more along the lines of "first kiss" kind of stuff rather than worrying about being cool or impressing people. It was really a much different film in that sense and I enjoyed that.

Jackie Chan also did surprisingly well. Often known for his action, he showed some heart in this role. Much more than I had ever seen him in past performances. Mr. Han (this movie's version of Mr. Miyagi) has his own issues and it's through his interactions with Dre Parker (Smith) which we see confront them.

Taraji P. Henson was good as Dre's mother. Just as caring as the original character, but with a more of an edge (which can sometimes come off as trying too hard). The actors portraying the rivals were also decent (Zhenwei Wang in particular), however they had a lot to measure up to. Martin Kove, William Zabka, and the rest of the Cobra Kai were legendary in the original. They were some grade-A, classic 80s villains. So it's hard and maybe not exactly fair to compare them.

One of my only complaints about the film is that the action was actually a little too unbelievable at times. It looked like there was some wire-fu going on, though I suspect it was supposed to be a little more of a fantasy than the original. But even then it was still a little much at times. My other complaint was the fact that they call the movie The Karate Kid, despite openly admitting the style the characters are studying is Kung Fu.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on October 30, 2010.

What she said:

She

I know that tons and tons of people from my generation grew up on the original Karate Kid movie.  I was not one of them.  That film was never on my radar, and I’ve maybe seen it once or twice over the years.  It seems to be quite a force though, and so any remake (or is it a re-imagining?) has a lot to live up to.

The new Karate Kid has a lot of good.  It’s warm and fuzzy with a nice underdog story, and Jackie Chan’s mentor character (Mr. Han) has a bit of depth to it.  But sometimes it feels like it’s trying too hard, and I had some issues with it. The question is, were the issues enough to keep me from liking this movie?

First of all, Jaden Smith is cute and all, but his acting needs some work.  He had some intense emotional scenes where he nailed it, and then he had some others were he was obviously reading lines.  I noticed this particularly toward the beginning of the movie.  He was also a little too much of a smart alec, although I guess he got humbled a little by Mr. Han. 

Second point of annoyance.  I know his little girlfriend is supposed to be 12, but she looked 16+ to me.  I did a little Googling, and although I couldn’t get a hard answer, there are rumors that she’s at least 16 in real life.  So, I found their whole relationship to be a little weird and awkward, especially since Jaden Smith kind of looks young for his age.  It was like a bizarre babysitter love-affair thing.  Gross.

Thirdly, I think the movie got a little bit long.  I’m not sure why they felt the need to beef it up to 140 minutes.  There were clearly parts that could have been cut out, and it might have actually strengthened the overall film.

All this aside, it was half-decent.  There were some funny moments, some emotional, and you really did want Jaden Smith to kick the bully’s tush.  That kid was such a villain; he was actually quite awesome.

Overall, I’d say it’s worth a rent, but I’m not sure if I’ll watch it again.

Diagnosis- Thumbs half up.