The Karate Kid – No Wax Required!

The Karate Kid is no doubt a re-imagining of the 1984 film, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they changed the original title of the film, The Kung Fu Kid.  Other than a very quick reference or two made in dialog, the film has nothing to do with karate.  However, it has everything to do with the good old original film that we all intimately know and love.  But we’ll cover that shortly.  For now, rest assured, the film is not a blatant rip-off.  Ralph Macchio will always be the “Karate Kid.”

The 2010 martial arts film is directed by Harald Zwart and stars Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.  And guess who had a hand in producing it?  If you guessed Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, then make the faux bell sound “ding, ding, ding.”

To say The Karate Kid film didn’t have heart would be like saying a kid doesn’t get excited about the prospect of Santa Claus coming in the wee hours of Christmas night to deliver presents.  I guess you could say that I have a soft spot for underdog stories of this sort.  I would like nothing more for them to make Rocky movies until Stallone is in a wheelchair.  Even then, I still would not mind seeing more of them.  I love them that much.  The overcoming of adversity and against-all-odds situations are stories that warm my heart and inspire me to be all I can be in life.  Without movies of this nature, I don’t know where I would be in life.

The plot of the new Karate Kid film bears many similarities to the original 1984 one, but is also completely different and fresh in so many other ways.  As conflicting and confusing as my last sentence may sound, it will soon all make sense once you visit the film.  Don’t fret!  Also, I guess it goes without saying that Will Smith is using this film as a vehicle to launch his son Jaden’s career.  So let’s just skip over that topic completely here.

Twelve-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden) is forced against his will to move to Beijing with his mother (Taraji P. Henson).  It is told through visuals and dialog that Dre’s father is no longer with them.  Once in China, Dre falls fast for a young violinist student.  I have to admit.  It felt weird seeing such a young romance on screen, but whatever, who really cares.  Dre’s attention to this girl makes him an instant enemy to a bully named Cheng.  It is here where Dre is given the nickname of “The Karate Kid,” hence the name of the film, after a futile attempt to prevent a good old arse kicking.  Sound familiar?  Well that’s because it is, but nonetheless, it’s a fresh new take in many ways.

Needless to say, things get progressively worse for young Dre who quickly gets pushed to his breaking point.  Enter Mr. Han (Jackie Chan).  The broken down maintenance man courageously saves Dre from further punishment.  And wait until you see the fight scene here!  Nice choreography Jackie!  Does the story still sound familiar?  Yes, I know, but rest assured… things are changed up a bit for the most part.  Take for instance the training.  Ah, the training sequences we all know and love from the original film are completely different here.  It’s like a fresh of breath air really.  I kept seeing references to waxing Mr. Chan’s car, but thankfully we never go there.  Instead, young Dre learns how to hang his coat.  Sound weird?  Well, that’s because it is.  But if hanging my coat produced the results Dre experienced, then I’m going to start hanging my coat 8 hours a day too!  Why is he training with Mr. Chan you are probably asking yourself right now?  Well, for the martial arts tournament but of course.  You will just have to watch and see if young Dre has the moves and determination to pull off a miraculous win in this tournament of champs.

Okay, here’s what I liked about the film.  I liked the familiar story.  I liked the new changeups.  And I like the ultra realistic and aggressive fighting scenes.  Some of those kicks to the face made even me cringe in my seat.  They felt very real.  I like that!  Now, here’s the only thing I didn’t like about the film…the 2 hours and 18 minute runtime.  Yikes!  For a film that’s suppose to target ages 10 and up, you really could stand to trim the fat a little bit if you know what I mean.  I thought the runtime was a bit excessive and yes, it felt slow at times, but despite these minor flaws, I still see this as a film where parents who loved the original Karate Kid films should taking their youngsters to see and relive the modern day re-telling of one of the greatest adversary/comeback films of the 1980’s.  Of course, don’t drop everything you are doing to see this film, but if the mood strikes, do yourself and Jaden’s parents a favor and check it out this weekend.  And if you do, could you answer me one quick question?  Please tell me where Dre learned his finishing move from?  You’ll find out what I am referring to soon enough.  Have a great weekend at the movies!



2 Responses to “The Karate Kid – No Wax Required!”

  1. Gregg

    I may wait a few weeks for the fanfare to die down on this one before seeing it. I still need to check out Prince of Persia!

  2. U. T.

    My cousin recommended this movieand she was totally right!