The Karate Kid (Harald Zwart) 2010

Yeah yeah, I already know everyone’s first bitch is that this movie is actually the Kung Fu Kid and not the Karate Kid. This kind of reminds me when Herzog pitched the idea for his latest movie. I’m sure the exchange with the execs went something like this:

Execs: Oh, Bad Lieutenant.

Herzog: Excuse me?

Execs: You described Bad Lieutenant. You wanna remake it?

Herzog: Well, I’ve never seen it.

Execs: But you just described it…

Herzog: Well I suppose it is a common theme, I just thought it would be interesting to do a story like that.

Execs: Perfect, let’s call it Bad Lieutenant.

Herzog: But I’m not remaking it.

Execs: Yeeeees I know. But everyone will already associate it with the original so we might as well head it off at the pass and just call it Bad Lieutenant.

Herzog: I don’t know…

Execs: Too bad we already made the posters.

End scene.

Point is I think people realized there was no Karate in this movie but they figured its a remake of the basic plot so just call it Karate Kid for the association. The problem is there is no karate in this movie! That is like calling West Side Story “Romeo and Juliet: Port of Call New York City”.

Enough of that little tangent. The plot of this movie is almost identical to the original: Dre and his mother have moved to China for a job opportunity. Bullies are picking on Dre who are students of a local kung fu school. The handy man for the apartments Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) decides to teach Dre kung fu for a tournament that is coming up. The writers here don’t take any risks or do anything radically different but there are some nagging problems I had with the movie.

This is actually brought up by Spill.com but I’ll be sure to give them credit before stealing it. The original movie was about some punk kids who were bullying Daniel with what lame karate they learn in a strip mall dojo. Time is short, but Miyagi is able to teach Daniel just enough to beat his competition. And the level of competition is that you would expect in a junior league karate tournament. There was a grounding in reality. But here they figure the original was not fast enough, bloody enough, or choreographed enough for modern audiences. It is unbelievable that Mr. Han can train Dre in a few months to be on the same level as kids who have been rigorously trained since their early childhood.

The fights have also been turned from realistic choreography to almost a live action anime. The kids are defying physics with wire fu. They are doing hurricanranas and pele kicks and moves rejected from Crouching Tiger cause they were considered too unbelievable. Cripes people! These are 12 year olds, they should not be mimicking the final fight between Neo and Agent Smith.

Another complaint of the original and now this movie is that it goes too long and I agree. In fact, because this plot is so familiar now, it should be shorter by the fact you can breeze through the backstory. It is not like we are adding much needed characterization. In fact, the bullies in this movie are even more outlandish. Before they were just bullies and now they want to outright murder Dre.

The acting is good overall. I love Jackie Chan and he has a fight scene that almost had me downright giddy. Jaden Smith does alright, although I find him to be a creepy Mini Me clone of his father Will Smith. Seriously, it is like Will cloned himself and brainwashed him as a boy to be a money making tool like his dad. Frankly I would like a kid with a personality of his own than someone doing an impression. Now that is just me so I won’t bash the movie for that.

Now the movie isn’t bad. Like I said the movie tries to faithful to the original and not do too much different. I can see kids and people unfamiliar with the series to watch it and enjoy it. But my problem is I am familiar with the original. They do nothing new or better than the original so for me the movie is unnecessary. And what they do try different (namely the fight scenes) are so silly it had me laughing hysterically. This was a decent time waster, but for me this doesn’t top the original or even the sequel.

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