The Karate Kid (2010)
Directed by Harald Zwart
Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Release date: June 11, 2010
The number one stupid complaint people give in the midst of this sequel/remake craze, besides the fact that they shouldn’t do them, is that too many movies from our childhood are being ruined. I never understood that logic. You like the movies you like, for whatever reason it may be. No matter how bad it is, nothing that comes after it is enough to take away whatever it was that made you like it in the first place. The franchise may be tainted, but the movies within that canon that you loved aren’t impacted. For example, if this Ghostbusters 3 movie ever gets off the ground and sucks, the first one will still be a classic.
I’ve reexamined a lot of my favorite movies from my youth lately and realized that a lot of them really aren’t that good. I liked them at the time and that has carried over to me still liking them, but usually for nostalgic reasons. I am unapologetic about it, but truth be told, they are what they are. That said, comparing a current remake to one we hold dear from back in the day doesn’t usually have a fighting chance for that very reason.
Then there’s the new The Karate Kid.
We internet types possess that sense of entitlement where we can complain up one side and down the other about everything from script to screen, but when it comes time to watch the movie, we have to judge it based on a finished product. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t like it more than I ever thought possible despite every unfair inclination to the contrary.
The original story is all but unchanged. Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mother (Taraji P. Henson) relocate to China because of her job and Dre has difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings. He finds a girl that likes him, a bully that doesn’t, and spends a good deal of time getting his ass handed to him every time he steps out of his house. He finally turns to Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who reluctantly befriends him and teaches him how to defend himself. And so goes the quest for respect.
Look, The Karate Kid is not perfect. It paid homage without copying every last detail and there were some nice nods to the source without being too cute, but it is about a half hour too long, it’s brimming with cheesy sentiment about every 15 minutes, and technically the movie isn’t even about karate; it’s kung fu. You know, technically. But it works for the same reason the original did. They are both as predictable as the day is long and the backbone of just about every 80s movie you love is about rooting for the underdog, but these movies are about the relationships between the student and the teacher. The fighting was pretty cool, but Daniel and Mr. Miyagi’s friendship was the foundation for the original movie. Same goes here. Mr. Han and Dre are the heart of the new movie.
It was great to see Jackie Chan actually acting rather than letting his usual over the top repertoire of unfunny humor and martial arts carry him. His performance won’t ever end up being as iconic as Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi, but he downplayed it enough, and with enough subtly, to make sure you didn’t hate him for trying. The jury is still out on whether or not Jaden Smith’s career will end up more like Ralph Macchio or his famous father, Will Smith. For now, I vote for the latter because the kid’s got some chops.
So you are saying after all that complaining about the cast and the trailers, when you actually see the movie it turns out that we internet snobs don’t always know what we are talking about? I don’t know if I would go that far, but it is nice to be surprised sometimes, isn’t it?