Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Karate Kid

Show me... "Watch the Remake"!
[Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, Wenwen Han]

It's Saturday again, and a couple of interesting remakes or reboots arrive in theaters. Since the guys from work want to see "A-Team" next week, I had to steer toward the next generation "The Karate Kid" and the next generation of acting in the Smith family. Of course, once sitting comfortably in my stadium chair and watching the previews, my worst movie viewing fear was realized... a crying baby! After several shushes, and several minutes, all was under control for the rest of the film. I still do not understand why parents or guardians do not take their kids out of the theater when it is disruptive.

SYNOPSIS: Dre Parker and his mother move to China from Detroit for her job. A stranger in a strange land, Dre encounters bullies who continue to terrorize him. When saved by the his apartment's maintenance man, Mr Han, during one of the fights, Dre enlists Mr. Han to help him learn kung fu.

Every thing old is new again. As with so many other films of the late 70s and 80s, old movie ideas are being recycled and rebooted into remakes. Some are mediocre fare, while others inspire and transcend the original material. Where is the new "The Karate Kid" stack up? Much better than you would think!

Most of us 80s kids will go see Jaden's "The Karate Kid" in order to relive some of the moments of our youth. The rest of us will steer clear on principle and the premise that any reboot blasphemies all that Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi achieved together. Macchio is replaced with Jaden Smith, moving the age of the character from high school to middle school. Reseda, California is replaced with a place that Lucille Larusso's station wagon would never reach, regardless of how many times that she and Daniel push the car and pop the clutch to get it running - China. Pat Morita is replaced with Jackie Chan, a maintenance much more complex. Karate is replaced with kung fu. The story remains the same, but everything is different.

The classic 80s formula of the original "The Karate Kid" is updated into a truer, darker version of itself. We could all relate to the fish out of water of Daniel Larusso forced to move from the East Coast to the West Coast. But most of us would be able to handle it, wouldn't we? Now try walking in Dre Parker's shoes as a 12-year old forced to move from Detroit to China. Unknown culture, unknown language, mostly alone -- that would stagger the best of us.

Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan both bring a new depth to their respective characters. Jaden brings new millennium attitude and Jackie brings more tortured soul. The Johnny Lawrence character, now played by Zhenwei Wang as Cheng brings a seemingly more "evil" to the role, whereas William Zabka played the role with more ego. And of course both movies revolved around a girl, Elizabeth Shue as Ali in 984 and Wenwen Han as Meiying in 2010. As Meiying, she is gentle and accessible, not stuck up like Ali.

The last characters to discuss are the location and the martial arts. Using China as the location brings the scenery of 1986's "The Karate Kid II" Okinawa into the fold in a superior way. The ways of Kung Fu are both effective and elegant to look at. The choreography of the training, the fights and the competition are far more kinetic and involved. Of course, it might have had something to do with Jackie Chan being in the film.

This film takes all of the best points and plots from the original two films to deliver a great one-two punch of entertainment. And just to let you know, there was plenty of applause during the competition scenes and at the end of the film. Now, show me 'Sand the floor'!

Worth: Matinee & DVD

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