07 March 2011

Movies: The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate Kid (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1155076/

A remake based on the 1984 The Karate Kid, with some superficial differences. The remake is set in China instead of California, and involves Kung Fu, not Karate.  In fact there is no reason to call it Karate Kid, except to cash in on the well-known name of the original film and publicly acknowledge they are still on the whole "remake films because we have no original ideas" bandwagon.

Stars Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, the Mr. Miyagi counterpart. Young Jaden Smith - Will Smith's youngling - is 12 year old Dre, the Daniel counterpart.

There's no real reason to go into the story - it's almost a beat-for-beat mirror of the original film, married with the setting of a foreign land that came about in Karate Kid II. If they remake Karate Kid II, what are they gonna do? Go to the USA?

I was prepared to not be enthusiastic about the film before I sat down to watch it. I didn't see the point in remaking a film that really didn't need it.  But morbid curiosity compelled me to watch it anyhow.

As remakes go - they did good, if not better than I anticipated. Jackie Chan makes an acceptable Mr Miyagi counterpart, although I still preferred Pat Morita's definition of the role better. Jaden Smith did pretty good in his role as well. You can tell the kid worked hard, and seriously, at playing his role.


Unfortunately the Cobra Kai counterpart was weaker in this film, not near as menacing as in the original.  They are still assholes, but just didn't generate the hate the way the originals did.

There was a small bit of extra story involving Dre and the cute little 13yr old violin player Meiying. I don't know if that extra bit added up to the 20 minutes longer this film runs than the original. I doubt its inclusion adds anything to the movie, nor would removing it hurt the movie. I think it just gives Dre a friend to have available through to the end. She wasn't the squeeze-interest to Dre the way Elisabeth Shue's Ali was to Daniel.

I guess my biggest complaint would be - why kall it karate kid when there's no karate in the flick, except as a blatant bid to cash-in on the nearly universal love for the original movie?  And I refuse to accept the lame response that "oh, one of the bullies called him 'karate kid' before they beat the shit out of him." That's pretty weak to name a film after an easily thrown-away line that has no bearing on the film whatsoever. They did it for the cash, just admit it.

The second biggest complaint involves part of the story involving the blond-haired kid Dre meets when he first gets to China.  The blond kid is friendly and is apparently the only other native english speaker at the school and in living at the apartments.  The kid seems like good friend material, helping Dre out and even trying to look out for him. Then the kid just up-and-disappears from the rest of the film as quickly as he shows up. What's up with that? Heck - that kid probably figures Dre is a real dick for just dumping the only other english-speaking kid like that.

Regardless, overall it's a decent film, entertaining, watchable, filmed and edited well with fine performances. If you've never seen the original Karate Kid you could see this movie and know pretty much the whole original story. I don't know if the remake is as inspiring as the original was, it is impossible for me to determine.

If you've seen the original, this movie might invoke the memories of the first time you saw the original.  I was gonna watch the original to do a "2010 vs 1984" report - but there was no reason to do so. That's how close this remake mirrors the original.

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I know, I know. Why would I complain about all the changes to A Nightmare on Elm Street, then turn around and complain about the superficial changes to A Karate Kid?  Hint: It isn't because I like to complain, even though I might.  It's because there was no reason to remake either of these films, at least not yet. It's barely been 26 years and they're still fine films just the way they are.  Seriously it's as if the folks making these production decisions all grew up when I did and are remaking the movies we all watched while we were growing up.  Some for better, some for worse, some for no discernible reason at all.

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