PG for bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language.
Action/Adventure, Remake and Sports
June 11, 2010
Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Han Wen Wen, Taraji P. Henson, Yu Rong-Guang, Zhao Yi
Sony Pictures Releasing
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The Karate Kid
By Hannah Goodwyn
- No, you haven't traveled back to 1984, and no, you will not see Mr. Miyagi or Daniel-san "wax on, wax off". In fact, the "remake" should be called The Kung Fu Kid, since that's what the little hero learns, not karate (a martial art revered in Japan). All that in mind, this new film is actually quite good.
Starring power couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's son, Jaden, The Karate Kid is an updated version of an '80s classic. It doesn't offer groundbreaking storytelling, which isn't a big surprise, since it's a remake, but it is a fun coming of age film the family will enjoy seeing together this summer.
The Movie in a Minute
Dre and his mother Sherry (Taraji P. Henson) leave their home in the US. to start a new life on the other side of the world. Trying to accept China as his new home, Dre begins to fall for his classmate Mei Ying. The trouble starts when bully Cheng and his friends use their Kung Fu training to beat up Dre. Secretly a Kung Fu Master, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) stops the local boys from seriously hurting Dre. To gain his new young friend a reprieve from the bullyiing, Mr. Han agrees to enter Dre in a Kung Fu tournament, for which he trains him.
What Works – and What Doesn't – in The Karate Kid
Though this remake is slow in its beginning, it's strong at the finish. One major plus audiences will key in on is how well the soundtrack follows the plot of the film. With a well-selected song list backing the story, our focus is centered on lil' Dre. The transplanted 12-year-old starts off as a complaining, frustrated kid. Similar to the original, he soon discovers a martial art that will help him stand up for himself. By the end, Dre has the Kung Fu Tournament audience and those of us in the movie theater cheering.
In the lead role of Dre, Jaden Smith shows us just how much he is his father’s son. Like dad, A-list movie star Will Smith, Jaden has got the acting gene, the dance moves, and even shows off his rap skills in the movie’s theme song with popstar Justin Bieber. You may remember Jaden from The Pursuit of Happyness, in which he played his father's onscreen son, Christopher. Don't be surprised if you catch Jaden showing some Will Smith mannerisms in The Karate Kid. This big break role is definitely just the beginning for the little star in the making.
Jackie Chan takes on the Mr. Miyagi-esque role as maintenance man Mr. Han. A much more serious part than the action and comedy star is known for, Chan expresses the right amount of emotion, giving this troubled Kung Fu Master the edge needed to keep the story interesting.
A few remarks about questionable content: The film refers to ancient Chinese remedies, magic Kung Fu water from the Dragon Well, and the concept of yin and yang. Mr. Han also teaches young Dre about qi, the flow of internal energy, the essence of life in each of us -- as he says.
Rated PG for bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language, The Karate Kid is not for the little ones. Parents of young children, buy movie tickets with caution; our young hero, Dre, is the perpetrator of some of the obscenities used in the film.
In the End
If you go to the film understanding that this remake can't touch the classic, then The Karate Kid will not disappoint. Actually, it has the potential to be one of the best movies available to younger audiences this summer.
Hannah Goodwyn is the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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