Yes I know I am stating the obvious, because the movie is called THE KARATE KID, but the ass whooping that goes on in this remake of a classic, is based on Kung Fu and not Karate. so does this effect the story?
To answer this question I have to say “no”. I will get to that point later on in this review. I first want to address the increasing popularity of remakes nowadays. Recently we have seen remakes for BATMAN, HULK and even ROBIN HOOD could not escape the frenzy of redoing movies after a certain period of time. So is this the future of movie making?
THE KARATE KID is a remake of the 1984 classic. Only this time there is no mister Miyagi, but Mr. Han and Daniel LaRusso has been traded in for the character of Dre Parker, played by Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith). Now before you start screaming “oh no, not him again!”, I have a confession to make. Jaden Smith actually shows improvement when it comes to its acting. Sure it is not great, but looking back at THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL for example, his progress can be seen. You also notice how his father has a great influence on his acting as some reactions are clearly that of his dad, which is a good thing in my book.
With remakes people are always afraid too much will be changed, leaving nothing from the original story. Of course 26 years later you cannot use the original cast and time does change. To appeal to a much broader audience some changes have to be made and accepted. The most obvious differences between 2010 and 1984 version are:
– Actors; no-one can argue with me on this one. After such a long time new actors have to be chosen. Also Pat Morita (the original Mr. Miyagi) is no more. Picking Jackie Chan as the janitor Mr. Han was a good choice. I could have not think of any other person to reprise in this role. Jaden Smith as the troubled kid having to overcome his own fear, can be debated upon, but the final results weren’t too teeth clenching. One might actually say his acting was – do I dare to say – “decent”…
– Setting; in the original Daniel had to move from Newark to San Fernande Valley. With bigger actors and a bigger budget, you can do a lot more. So Dre moves from Detroit to Beijing. This actually helps a lot with the whole atmosphere of the movie. It makes it feel less “American”, a good thing in my opinion. Just watch a few “Making of” on YouTube and you’ll see why.
– Action; the fighting style Karate has been replaced by Kung Fu. The average viewer will not pay attention to this and I am quite sure most fans will dislike this choice. But be honest, when it comes to movies, Kung Fu is much more elegant than Karate… right? Tell me I am not right!
I am no expert when it comes to fighting styles, but Kung Fu somehow always have drawn me (as a viewer) much more than other martial arts.
Now looking at the total package we basically got the same story, same plots and even some nice references to the classic KARATE KID. One of them being Jackie Chan killing a fly after which he plucks it with his chopsticks and another being the Crane Style Kung Fu, which the woman standing on the dragon’s head is practicing at the temple. In case you forgot, Daniel used a “Crane technique” in the original to defeat one of the members of the Cobra Kai dojo.
For those who have not seen the classic – shame on you, go crawl back to you cave! – you will be watching your standard story of “someone” wanting to overcome “something” and succeeding. Even though Jackie Chan plays in this movie, do not expect to see much of him though. He only has one proper action scene and little dialogue. The entire movie focus heavily on Jaden, which of course makes sense, he is the Karate Kid who gets his ass whipped in the opening of the story – he only learns Kung Fu, instead of Karate, to do some ass kicking himself.
So are remakes (or the recent increase of remakes) a good thing? I am still unsure, but I know it is a great way to introduce youngsters to classic stories of our own youth. Who knows it might inspire them to look back at how things were done decades ago and learn from it.
When it comes to THE KARATE KID (2010), I can say it was your average action flick with some nice touches reminding of us of 1984’s classic. I however will be paying close attention to Jaden Smith. With this movie he has shown some potential, but he still has a long way to go.