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Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Han Wen Wen, Yu Rongguan, Wang Zhenwei, Wu Zhensu, Luke Carberry
RunTime: 2 hrs 12 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.karatekid-themovie.com/

Opening Day: 10 June 2010


In Columbia Pictures' The Karate Kid, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) could've been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother's (Taraji P. Henson) latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying - and the feeling is mutual - but culture differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts 'the karate kids' on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life.

Movie Review:

It appears liked every generation needs a new karate kid to remind one that underdogs can rule the day. Sony Pictures seems to think so given this remake of the original 1984 classic which starred the late Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio.

This 2010 version stars Jaden Smith (offspring of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith) as Dre Parker, a boy who is being forced to relocate from Detroit to Beijing with his single mom (Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson). Aside from being suffering from culture shock, Dre got himself into trouble with a bunch of local bullies when he took a fancy to a fellow student. Saved by the building maintenance man, Mr Han (Jackie Chan), Han took Dre under his wings and teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries but maturity and calm. And the only way for Dre to stand up to the bullies is to beat them in a martial arts tournament.

If you are familiar with the original or have watched it at least once on our favourite national television channel, much of the story structure from the Robert Mark Kamen’s screenplay are retained here with the major exceptions of locale setting, a very young African-America male lead and the absence of karate considering the very misleading title.

Instead of casting a twenty-plus years old Macchio look-alike, much of the focus will be on 11 year old Jaden Smith. Jaden who debuts on the silver screen with his father in "The Pursuit of Happyness" looks a bit awkward and a little too minor to be playing some lovey-dovey scenes opposite his Chinese co-star Han Wenwen. But then when his dad is the one fashioning the financial strings behind and has a name of Will Smith, you can’t really complain much. On the other hand, Jaden indeed inherited some of his dad’s star charisma and we can see that he worked really hard in perfecting some of the stuntwork onscreen given the stunt choreography is done by none other than the award-winning Jackie Chan stunt team.  

Taking the role of Mr Han aka Mr. Miyagi (not the blogger mind you), Chan once again demonstrated his passion to be an-all rounded actor. It’s definitely a lot trickier to surpass the performance of Morita who was nominated for the Academy Award for his portrayal of the eccentric, funny karate master but Chan manages to hold his own as the man with a haunted past. Over a career that spanned thirty odd years, the impish apprentice in "Drunken Master" has turned into a wise, old master himself.

As the menacing bully Cheng, newcomer Wang Zhengwei shines as the glinting villain and with Yu Rongguang as his ruthless Master, the baddies delivers the spectacles opposite our underdogs.

There are a lot of other factors that makes this reboot a success for example the DP is Oscar nominee Roger Pratt who lensed two Harry Potter movies and Troy. The lush, picturesque shots of the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the streets of Beijing among others match the polished, photoshopped look of a tourism catalogue, something that will make the rest of the world go ga-ga over. And who else did Papa Smith brought on board? Oscar-winning composer James Horner.     

Unlike Chan’s earlier "The Spy Next Door", the real deal here is the action sequences which comes across as believable and brutal somewhat on a street-level kind of violence for a supposedly 'kiddy' friendly-movie. Some of the jokes played here are obvious nod to the original for example the fly squatting and pop-culture references including one involving a Jedi Knight and Yoda. If there are any glaring complaints, it’s the running time that goes far too long and would have benefited from a fair bit of trimming in the middle. And instead of the underage romance, it would be more interesting to explore further into the character of Mr. Han and the relationship between him and Dre.

On the whole, "The Karate Kid" surprises one with its updated feel-good theme, lush production values populated with dosages of decent, no-holds-barred action despite the fact that it belongs to the wave of Hollywood numerous remakes. 

Movie Rating:

Jaden Smith might possibly be the answer to this generation’s Karate (Kung Fu) Kid

Review by Linus Tee


. The Spy Next Door (2010)

. The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

. The Pink Panther 2 (2008)

. Rush Hour 3 (2007)

. The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)

. Rob-B-Hood (2006)

. The Pacifier (2005)




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