Remember 1984? Odds are you were young, geeky and trying to avoid bullies in middle or high school. And you loved going to the movies. What? You don’t remember those days? Well I do…cause 1984 was THE best year for movies EVER and I was 15, in love and going to the movies was about all I could do for fun in my hometown. So when the original “Karate Kid” hit the theater, with Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue and Pat Morita, I LOVED it. I loved the story, I loved the music and I loved that he kicks the bad guys butt at the end even though he obviously shouldn’t have been able to walk but he did and he did that cool crane kick and hit Johnny right in his smug face and….
Uh…sorry about that. Needless to say…I’m a huge fan of “The Karate Kid” 1984, so how would the remake fare now, in the modern world, where everything is so much different from that time? Well…surprisingly, it has held up pretty well. And things aren’t that much different…but they are. And the credit for that goes to Will Smith’s son, Jaden. With all the charisma of his star-studded father, Jaden carries this film with his winning attitude and likeability even when it tends to get a little long and a little too hyper.
In this remake, much like the original, Dre and his mother (no father figure to be found) move to China for her job. Dre is the odd man out and is soon confronted by the school bullies. Eventually he befriends the handyman in his building (Jackie Chan, who is even more dour than Pat Morita ever was) who also teaches him Kung Fu. There is a big fight tournament at the end and yada yada yada. Odds are good you know all this already so let’s get down to the brass taxes of it. Is it as good as the original?
Well…no. But that is coming from a man who was 15 when the original came out and saw it 3 or 4 times in the theater and who owned the soundtrack and who had a mad crush on Shue for a whole 10 days in the summer of 1984. Or, at least until I saw “Gremlins”…and then it was Phoebe Cates. But I digress.
“The Karate Kid” redux, in MY opinion, is not as good as the original. It’s a little too long, the fight scenes are a little over the top and the soundtrack is obnoxious in certain parts (John Mayer? In a karate movie? Why?). But that being said, it IS every bit as likable as the original in that Smith carries the role as Dre very well and he and Chan have a good repoire as the student and the teacher. As a matter of fact, there are several scenes where they are together that had my kids laughing hysterically! So that should tell you something. The only plot hole in the entire film is the love story. Where Macchio & Shue were obviously in their teen years, Smith and Wenwen Han are 12. That makes their pining for one another a little hard to fathom. But even that doesn’t get TOO heavy so it didn’t distract from the storyline too much.
To wrap things up, “The Karate Kid” 2010 IS entertaining and worth seeing in the theater. Beautiful Beijing locales (including some training scenes on the Great Wall) look fantastic and obviously big bucks were spent on shooting in crowded and popular locations around the city. And watching Dre kick some major butt in the end (although HIS version of the famous crane kick is a little different from Macchio’s) is just as entertaining, if not more violent, than the original. My opinion….go check out “The Karate Kid” with your kids and then let them watch the original at home on DVD and see which one THEY like better! It makes a great Double Bill and honestly…you won’t even think you’re watching the same movie…
Overall Rating: B+