Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Karate Kid Is Kicking

When I first heard they were remaking The Karate Kid starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, I thought, how can they call it Karate Kid when Jackie Chan does kung fu? I wasn't planning to see it, but got to view it for free when my nephew's kung fu academy performed before a showing.

I thought the opening scene was a good way to show backstory without telling it. Young Dre (Jaden Smith) stares at a growth chart marked on the wall. Milestones in his life and the dates are penciled in. In 2007, his daddy died. He measures himself and writes "Moved to China." That's all you need to know at the beginning.

Jaden's Dre is a very likeable character. At twelve years old, he is still a very sweet-looking boy. Dre is bullied by bigger boys who know kung fu. He persuades Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) to teach him kung fu so he won't be afraid of them. I had no problem with the bullies being Chinese, after all, they are in China.

If you've seen the original Karate Kid, you might remember catching flies with chopsticks, "wax on, wax off," and the crane position. The new version pays homage to these scenes in humorous ways.

I thought the movie was good. I wasn't sure if my teenage daughter would like it since she's not into martial arts movies, but she really enjoyed it, partly because there were lots of Chinese people in it.

I can understand from a marketing viewpoint that the name Karate Kid was kept to reboot the franchise and draw people in. There was one line in the movie drawing attention to the fact that karate and kung fu are not the same. But hopefully, the majority of viewers will be made aware there's a difference.

All in all, The Karate Kid is a good family movie. There's not a lot of blood, but some of the violence may be too much for younger viewers. My husband wants to buy the DVD when it comes out.

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