Dave’s 3-Word Review
Jackie Chan, What!?
You know, it’s funny. They have all of these remakes and reimaginings, and no one ever seems to be happy. Why? I’ll clue you in on a secret: people are way too hung up on the original that they refuse to believe that the reimagining can touch what the first one had. I whole-heartedly disagree. Sometimes that’s true, but sometimes people just don’t give a movie a shot. The Karate Kid is a perfect example of this. It doesn’t have the best ratings, and I have no idea why it doesn’t. The movie is phenomenal. I finally figured it out. It has to do with how much it differs from the original film. Guess what people? Creative freedom is a thing, look it up. This film is more authentic, has some incredible emotion from the cast, and well…I’ll get into it. The main point being: it’s brilliant.
The story has to do with Dre Parker and his mother moving to Beijing when her job transferred her. Well, where he is normally a popular kid, undiscovered territory transforms him into the reject and bullied. He immediately hates the country and begs his mother to go home…but they can’t. Well the kids that are beating him up are associated with a teacher with one phrase that he lives by “No Mercy”. Mr. Han, the janitor at his apartment building believes that honorable kung-fu can defeat blind angry fighters any day of the week. Needless to say, the bullies keep on Dre, but agree to leave him alone when Mr. Han enters him into a kung-fu tournament. Mr. Han agrees to teach Dre everything he needs to know to honor his family and win in the best way possible.
Okay, if you look at the film as a giant puzzle, this remake has pretty much the corner pieces intact, but the rest is more original than you’d think. It does derive from the original source while shouting out to key elements that made the original film memorable. Instead of wax on wax off, you get put on and take off your jacket. Instead of Mr. Miyagi, you get Mr. Han. The enemies are pretty much the same, and so is the tournament, but the real meat and flesh of this film is relatively new. We have a 12 year old black kid as the “Karate Kid”, a setting in China, and other characters that were created just for this film but were just as important. What set this apart was an abundance of emotion, and good emotion at that.
I had to sit on the edge of my seat and stare at Jackie Chan, because there is one moment where you don’t believe it’s him. You have never really seen Jackie Chan until you see this film, folks. There is one moment in this film that you won’t believe is him, and you will be all for the film until the last credit rolls. He proves that he can be a magnificent actor in The Karate Kid. Normally, he’s all bouncy and making jokes and using props to fight…but now…he has one fight scene, and the rest he is able to show us how he acts, and as I’ve said above, boy can he act.
Chan is the father figure that Dre so badly needed – but also, Dre is the son figure that Chan’s character badly needed as well. They completed each other, and their chemistry is outstanding. It’s not hard to understand why either. Jackie Chan really did train Jaden Smith before and after the movie shoot. Everything you see here goes beyond entertainment and into the realm of reality. The original Karate Kid movie was just to make a movie, but there is so much more heart to it here. It goes beyond the film. It takes place in China, and he is being taught by someone that truly knows how to fight in real life. Beyond that…the movie is just amazing.
If I had one complaint, it would be that Jaden is just too young. I know, I know, it’s a kid, and finally there’s a kid to make the title make sense. After all, the first one wasn’t called The Karate Teen. But it’s more than that. Jaden’s age shows that his acting range hasn’t fully matured yet. You see that Jackie was training him in fighting, but his father was training him in acting. There was a lot of Will Smith I saw in the boy, things I could almost see behind-the-scenes Will Smith saying, “Do it like this”. Oh, and the other complaint is the title doesn’t make any sense any more. It should have been its alternate title of The Kung-Fu Kid. That would make more sense.
Uh…the whole movie? Jackie Chan’s acting is probably the best seen here, his emotions are real and you feel for him. You also connect really well with Jaden Smith’s character. If there was no “original movie”, people would have definitely loved the film.
Jaden is too young and needs to practice acting a little further. The title should have been called The Kung-Fu Kid instead.
The very fact that people judge this based off the original film is disgusting to me. Creative freedom, people, creative freedom. On its own, the movie is fantastic! I love this film for so many different reasons. If you get too hung up on the original film, then yes, you are going to miss everything that’s great about this rendition.
Mr. Han: You have taught me very important lesson, Xiao Dre. Life will knock us down, but we can choose whether or not to stand back up.