Review: The Karate Kid (2010)
The rush to remake the 1980′s should be sign to lock yourself away from the world until it blows over.
And the expectation is that the Karate Kid remake should be top of the list of cheesy cash-ins.
Surprisingly, it defies all cynicism, presenting a fresh, invigorating, and highly enjoyable film.
The plot is more or less the same as in the original version, save for a few basic cosmetic changes, with the remake stamping its own mark.
The main one being that instead of a young white kid fighting his way through American bullies, instead we have a young black American kid fighting to avoid being crushed by modern China – and of course the school bullies.
The main character, Dre Parker, is played by Jaden Smith, real-life son of Hollywood legend Will Smith, with the inimitable Jackie Chan playing maintenance man Mr Han in the Mr Miyagi role.
If there were any criticisms that Jaden was walking undeserved into the part simply because of his parentage, he soon blows those away. For the most part he’s convincing, particularly in the most challenging emotional sequences.
Jackie Chan also carries his part exceptionally, not least because of the mature demands of the character in the remake: from the shambling maintenance worker, to the awkward man who feels guilt for the death of his wife and son.
This is especially important as the key relationship in the film is of the student and teacher, as surrogates for missing parts of their families, and both carry this off with apparent excellent chemistry.
The film-making is very well done – filmed on location across China, we are forced into the heart of what can only be a strange and foreign culture for most viewers, and from the start we feel young Dre’s feeling of alienation and oppression.
The only area where the film is really let down is in the coming of age romance element. Because of the younger age of the actors in the remake, it feels neither convincing nor necessary. For the most part, however, it is handled well even if it does fit awkwardly as a supporting sub-plot.
The major moments of the film, of course, are the training and fight scenes.
The film is slow to get started, but it gradually builds up momentum. When Jackie Chan’s character begins the training in earnest the audience is engaged by the power of the imagery and sense of growth.
It builds up from a scene of a woman doing the crane move in front of a cobra on a mountain top, to a finale of Jaden doing the splits. It’s powerful, it’s exciting, and emotionally charged.
And the fight scenes are scary for their sense of realism, not least because this is young children acting viciously towards one another, with a sometime frightening degree of violence.
Unlike most end-film fighting sequences, where we’re supposed to engorge on the ape-like desire for males to prove their brutal physical dominance over the other, The Karate Kid manages to step aside from that.
Superbly-choreographed fight sequences they may be, but the victory is not in the winning, but of being able to stand up against oppression and conquer fear.
Of all the remakes we could expect to see, The Karate Kid is certainly among the best of them. There is a focus on quality and emotional challenge we have come to expect from projects Will Smith works on.
And yet, for all it’s achievements, the biggest problem may be the limited audience who would get the most from this.
As a family film, this is very enjoyable, even for children of a young age, boys and girls.
However, Jaden feel too young as an actor to feel inspiring to the mid-to-older teens gripped by the original. And yet the themes of the film may be too adult to be memorable for a younger audience.
Therefore it remains to be seen is how much stickiness the remake will take on in the minds of the modern generation, and whether it can be comparable to the impact of the original 80′s film. Perhaps that all depends upon the quality of the coming sequels.
The Karate Kid (2010) is now available on Blu Ray and DVD.
There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.
Visited 2383 times, 3 so far today