Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Karate Kid: Movie Review

The Karate Kid: Movie Review

The Karate Kid
Rating: 6/10
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan
Director: Harald Zwart
When you remake a classic, you're almost faced with an impossible task - improving an original respectfully and updating it for a new generation.
This version of the Karate Kid begins with Jaden Smith's 12 year old Dre Parker packing to leave Detroit as he and his widowed mum ( ) get ready to move to China for her new job.
But no sooner does Dre get to China and tries to settle into a life there, he finds himself squarely in trouble of the bullying kind after making googly eyes at a local girl.
When the bullies batter him, he ends up being saved by Jackie Chan's Mr Han - and determined to make sure he gets his revenge, he asks Han to teach him the kung fu ways after seeing a local academy in action.
So begins Little Dre's initiation into the martial arts - and on a collision course in a karate tournament with the bullies who blight his daily life&.
This new version of The Karate Kid isn't a bad attempt at revitalizing the franchise. Jackie Chan's dour Mr Han is in keeping with Chan's more recent roles as the sad underdog; his Mr Han is a damaged man who has a secret which is ripping his life apart.
And Jaden Smith is a surprise as Dre - the kid's got charisma (which is blown in some scenes) and presence worthy of his father Will; he's also got that cheeky way with a role which clearly runs in the family. He also shows a great degree of vulnerability in the role for one so young.
It's a little overlong in parts - and with a fair few slow mo shots of the training coupled with a crescendo of music to ensure the point is hammered home, it does lose its way at times when a bit of subtlety would have sufficed.
And the bullies' predilection for "No mercy" kung fu is clearly at odds with Dre and Han's approach which doesn't make the ultimate showdown as morally engaging as it could have been.
Yet, there's a genuine affection between the pair in their training partnership and the writers of this film have shied away from directly copying the infamous Wax On, Wax Off scene preferring shots of Dre hanging up a coat, dropping it on the floor and putting it on under Han's tutelage to teach him what he needs to know.
I have to admit to being quite partial to Chan's underacting - his sombre tone lends a credibility to this film and makes the scenes when he busts out the kung fu more thrilling.

Ultimately this Karate Kid just falls just a little short when compared to the original but thanks to the bond between the two, it's reasonable enough family entertainment

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