I’m old enough to remember the original Karate Kid movie, and although there are an awful lot of similarities between this screenplay and the original, The Karate Kid remake manages to make itself a distinctive film in it’s own right.
Jaden Smith takes on the lead role of 12 year old Dre Parker. A Detroit kid who, due to his mother’s latest career move, has ended up in Beijing, China. Whilst in the park he spots, and falls for classmate Mei Ying, although this draws unwanted attention from class bully, the Kung Fu kicking Cheng. After a fight between Cheng and his gang is broken up by the rather more experienced Kung Fu kicking Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), Parker begs Mr. Han to train him to fight. Although reluctant at first, when Han sees the sort of Kung Fu Cheg’s master is teaching, he agree to train Parker to fight in Cheg in the upcoming Kung Fu tournament.
Chan and Smith, spar off each other well, both literally and figuratively. Jaden (son of Will Smith) proves he’s very much a chip of the ‘ol block, and puts in a solid lead performance as Dre, as well as some pretty impressive moves in the fight sequences. Equally Chan gets to show he can act, rather than just do kick ass moves with jokes.
The Karate Kid is a fairly slow paced film, which is not what you’ve necessarily expect from a movie with Karate in the title. This does drag a little in places, but also gives more time to get engaged with the characters. The tournament sequences are executed, and the Mr. Han fight sequence is perform with pure Jackie Chan brilliance.
On a side note, it’s also worth mentioning there isn’t actually any Karate in The Karate Kid – It’s all kung fu… Although i can see why they didn’t got for The Kung Fu Kid, as it does sound like an 80’s straight to video ripoff!
Overall, The Karate Kid is a very sweet film, mainly due to the great rapport between Smith and Chan, which help you see past it’s few faults.