Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Karate Kid: A Triumphant Remake With Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan

More often than not, the remake just ain't as good as the original. But honestly, when it comes to the 1984 "The Karate Kid" featuring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita it's hard to remember just how good it was. What I do remember though was how it made me feel. In a word, triumphant!

In Sony Pictures' 2010 "The Karate Kid" starring Jaden Smith (Dre Parker) and Jackie Chan (Mr. Han) all the elements to make another triumphant film are in place. The first element being casting. It's pretty obvious Smith is destined to be a star despite being born to talented celebrity parents. The kid has talent and his parents are doing a great job cultivating it.

I will admit though, in interviews, Jaden's a tad cocky, a little too cocky for some adults so I hear. My response is please "stay on the humble kid" or at least act like you are. The hateration coming your way is moving fast! You're still very young and got plenty of time to act like an adult. But I'm sure your parents have said that already! Moving on...

The role of Dre's Kung Fu mentor is an important one and Jackie Chan demonstrates in "Karate Kid" that he's an ACTOR, not a martial arts expert trying to act. The quiet strength and emotion he portrays in his character is totally different than most of the roles we've seen him play and it's refreshing to witness. I never thought I'd say Jackie Chan made me cry while watching a movie, but dammit he did!

And the young actor who portrayed Cheng, the bully. If I saw that little boy on the street I might be tempted to walk on the other side. He's trained to be mean and his mean-mugging talents are not wasted in "Karate Kid." Seriously though, the work he and Jaden do in the film is great whether they are physically fighting or not.

My only complaint in casting is the lack of use of Taraji P. Henson as Dre's mother. She's got plenty of scenes but I would've liked to have known a little more about her decision in going to China for a job. Was it a promotion? And how was she dealing with her new surroundings? And third, when your child is kicked damn near across the room for the first time in a competition, and you know his opponent is fighting dirty and trying to really hurt your child, we expect the mother to get a little more "involved" in the event.

The second element that makes "Karate Kid" a triumphant film is location. The film is shot in China and really illustrates the ancient beauty and the culture of the country. Seeing it through the eyes of a youngster is perfect because he learns to appreciate the old and the new as well as seek out commonalities between the cultures such as the love of music and basketball.

The third element is story. Of course, we know it and how it's going to end but what leads up to the dramatic end is good. Admittedly, there is a moment or two when things get a little slow but not so slow you lose interest. The film is two hours and 20 minutes long, not your typical 90 minute experience! And of course, the puppy love story between Dre and Mei Ying, his violin playing school mate is just...too cute.

"The Karate Kid" officially hit theaters this weekend. I'd love to read your thoughts on the film so leave your comments! Comments are like little fortune cookies after a good Chinese meal! Umm, umm good!

Side note: Is it me or does Jaden Smith with those cornrows look just like "The Boondocks" character, Riley Freeman or "Escobar"? I'm just saying if Jaden is in a "Boondocks" movie don't be surprised. They're both distributed by Sony Pictures. Remember where you heard it first!


steveburks said...

Jackie Chan stepped his acting game WAY up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything thing that you wrote, except the part about the cockiness, which I also don't know about. It was very refreshing to see Jackie Chan in this loving, parental role - I also cried. My 6 year old daughter loved the movie and was very inspired in her own kung fu training.