Karate Kid


In this 2010 remake directed by Harold Zwart (The Pink Panther 2), Karate Kid falls short of expectations raised by its television predecessors—Karate Kid (1984)—but nonetheless, served as a formulaic heartwarming and entertaining film.

Following the original underdog cliche, poor Dre (Jaden Smith) sticks out like a sore thumb—the shortest kid in class as well as the only black kid around—when he and his widowed mother moves from Detroit to Beijing following a change in career. Culturally curious sweet little thing Meiying (Han Wenwen) displays an interest in Dre and he incurs the wrath of the typical school bully Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) and his band of unethically kung fu-trained cronies. Here, enters Jackie Chan who plays Mr. Han, an unlikely arts master disguised as a reclusive apartment building maintenance man, who not only saves young Dre from being crippled by his young and ruthless bullies but also mentors him in self defense. This, of course, builds up to the major showdown. That is, not before Jackie makes Jaden go through grueling training against the backdrop of airbrushed—and suspiciously empty of tourists—Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

Karate Kid (2010) is pretty much confusing. With more kung fu than karate, Kung fu Kid could have been a more accurate title rather than Karate Kid. A tad more confusion follows with the soundtrack: With a setting in the East, the soundtrack from the ubiquitous Justin Bieber and John Mayer paired with Chopin and Rachmaninoff on a volin.

There's also a problem with age for casting young, uprising star, Jaden Smith, and a lady in the back row spoke my mind: "Aren't they too young for such violence?" With his clean suave looks, 12-year-old Jaden looks barely ten. Hence, the romance, which includes a kissing scene, seemed pretty inappropriate while the fighting looks overly violent. Young Jaden's privileged birthright as the son of the executive producers and celebrities of same film, Will Smith and Jada Smith, makes it tougher for him to delve into the role of a vulnerable underdog. His assurance shines through his character. On the other hand, while veteran Jackie did not achieve much breakthrough in his acting, his trademark antics remain satisfyingly entertaining.

With all that said, Karate Kid (2010) manages to engage the emotions of the audience—sympathy points and even tears for the underdog—and would be an entertaining flick worth ignoring a few mishaps. And perhaps, worth overlooking even the ulterior motives for the Smiths to promote his son and the East to attract more visitors with postcard-perfect China in the backdrop.

Related link: Karate Kid (2010) official site

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