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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie, more so than any film this year, has had the most "noise"
generated. Mostly from people ignorant of the film and just exactly how
good or bad it is. The discussion has been centered on why call it "The
Karate Kid" if he is learning Kung Fu. It is easy; the name is
recognition and "Kung Fu Kid" sounds like a ripoff, not a remake and
this is a remake and they are not hiding the fact. Enough said,
explanation done, go back to your bowl of cereal.
This film takes what was done in the original film and has nicely upgraded across the board. First, we have more of a threat from the kid doing the bullying this time around rather than a caricature. The mother/son dynamic is stronger and given much more screen time. The romance is more playful and innocent, with the friendship aspect ultimately being the plot focus. The student/teacher dynamic has an even stronger father/son underlying tone and finally, the action is much much improved upon.
All of the above is due to excellent performances across the board. Jaden Smith shows to be a more than capable actor in the making and with no doubt observation of Chan, who we FINALLY get to see in a dramatic role rather than action/comedy role. Smith and Chan have a fun chemistry that helps make the film enjoyable.
I was afraid through the ads that Smith's abilities would be over the top great, but through an excellent training montage and philosophical lessons, we buy that this kid is as good as he is in the tournament.
A standout moment for me was the final bonding scene between Chan and Smith. It is during a moment reminiscent of the original film's scene where Daniel finds out about Mr. Miagi's family. Here, we have a similar scene, but it is what happens after it that establishes their relationship and seals the audiences relationship to these two characters. Excellent excellent scene.
One other standout moment is the climax where they do a great job of ending the movie on a pitch perfect note. I had heard of audiences literally standing up and cheering, but I figured that was embellished. That is until the very same thing happened at the showing I caught this afternoon. You literally do want to stand up and cheer. They also take the moment a step further than the original did and provided an close to the lesson that Jackie's Mr Han was teaching Smith's Dre. It became a full circle lesson and really helped the movie have an even more satisfying end.
The extended scenes of life in China really help to ground this film in the philosophical realm, even more so than the original. There is a richness and texture to everything that takes place against the backdrop of China. It has an even more "fish out of water" feel that lends to the believability and desperation of Smith's character. We also have a lot more character building time spent in this film that gives it about 13 more minutes run time than the original, but those extra moments really pay off in a big way. As I mentioned previously, we get more of Dre and his mom. They don't just show up and then she gets thrown into a few scenes like in the original. She is an important part of Dre's life and it is shown.
The one thing I noticed the most about this film was the amount of families that attended it. I think it is the first film of the year where adults and kids can go and enjoy a film together and both come out with the same emotions and lessons learned. That would be a reflection of the film itself as it shows Mr Han learning from his student, something that gives the film a welcome twist when compared to the original.
Those that have pre-judged this film or gotten caught up in the name game really need to see the film before they make any judgments. This film is a VERY welcome surprise and more than holds it own against the original. It stays loyal to the lessons and relationships of the original film and brings them forward 25 years later.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I will be the first to admit that I am a major fan of the the first
Karate Kid and not a fan of Jaden Smith. However, I went into this
movie expecting to be disappointed in Jaden and walked away
disappointed in 3 totally different things. After watching this film, I
am convinced that Will Smith bought off the critics and those that
voted this highly or said this was better than the original were 1 of 3
things 1) A plant of the studio or close friends. 2) under the
influence, or 3) too busy getting physically pleasured to really focus.
This film had 3 major flaws and Jadens acting ability or lack thereof
was the least of this films worries and truthfully, though I don't
think Jaden can act his way out of a paper bag, his performance didn't
help or hurt the film, I think he was the same as he was in the others.
with that said, I will say that his martial arts skills were good and
it's obvious that he put in a lot of work and effort into learning the
form. I'll give credit where credit is due and for that reason I give
this a 4. However, this film lacks the 3 C's. Cohesion, Chemistry and
Character development. Lets start with Cohesion.
Cohesion: For those that don't know what cohesion means, its the glue that holds and strings things together, makes it flow seamlessly. If you have A-C cohesion would be "B". There were a lot of A's and C's no B's.This film left you wondering many times "how did we get here?" Lets put aside the fact that Jaden is in a new country and doesn't know the language. I found it very interesting how he and his mother got around so well with just having got there. There was no explanation for much of anything at all and at times it appeared that things were thrown in just to have an excuse to have a love interest, or for Jaden to be bullied or for his mom to have some dialogue. Like the original Karate Kid or not, did you at any point feel "this movie is dragging along?" Which brings me to...
Chemistry: There was none AT ALL, it felt like a 1 night stand. No ones performance made me give a damn about their cause. Some say well Ralph Macchio didn't give an Oscar worthy performance. Well he didn't have to be Daniel Day Lewis in the film because he and Pat Morita had chemistry. Ralph was raw and natural and Pat's comedic timing and seriousness was on point every time. You cared about them. Billy Zabka and his croonies had personality you hated them and even cheered for Johnny at times, Daniels mom, Lucille had ridiculous personality, even sensei was personable. I felt too much was rushed and an attempt to include nostalgia. Chan was decent in here, but he and Jaden did not bond well at all, nor did Jaden and his mother. This was not a role for Taraji, Elise Neal would have been better. The girl was just thrown in for the sake of a cute girl and introduction to the bully, which takes me to my final point..
Character development: It is hard to have cohesiveness and chemistry if your characters are poorly developed. Yes this is a Karate Kid remake and don't lie and say its not, some of the exact same dialogue, exact same scenarios, changing the country and training/learning tools does not make it a re-imagining, a re imagined film doesn't use anything pre existing. But how you can not build the characters is beyond me. Again, Dre's mom was just in their for the sake of Dre having a mother. She did a lot of non sensible things. I mean where did she work for heavens sakes? We knew Lucille was working at the computer place and then the orient restaurant. She let him just do kung fu with Mr. Han without any knowledge of him. Han didn't fix a bike or anything. Lucille knew Miyagi he did a few things before befriending Daniel. Johnny the spoiled brat had great development, Ali from the hills, Sensei the Vietnam vet who was militant. Can you honestly tell me why the bully in this remake was the way he was and who in the hell was sensei, what is his background? The story telling was simply awful, everything was just plain rushed. So I am not going to bash this movie because of Jadens braids or his skin color or because of his rich daddy. I am recommending not to see this because its flat out boring. My 10 year old daughter finds joy in almost any film, she fell asleep on this one, we were at the drive in, people where driving away. Oh and Jadens dialogue near the end before his absurd comeback, sounded like he was tired of filming and just wanted to get the lines over with. Ralph may not be stellar, but at least you cared about his character and the supporting cast. Remove the characters from this film and see what difference it makes. Meaning, if you take out Ali from KK1, you will feel something is missing. Remove the chick from this one and any cause could replace her, not saying she wasn't good at her role, it just wasn't memorable or necessary.
I'll put it like this, when you walked away from the original KK and even to this day, you don't call Pat Morita, Pat Morita, you see his photo and you say "that's Mr. Miyagi" you see Ralph, you don't call him Ralph, you call him Daniel -san" Their characters were believable. you walk from this and its Jaden and Jackie Chan. I hope JW (Jerry Weintraub) got paid good for this, because this is beneath him. Poor character development, poor story. The end
Clumsy exposition that is trying to be subtle, but ends up being super
direct, in that intellectually insulting way. From the beginning to the
end, this movie really talks down to its audience, even if the
demographic aimed at is children. I found myself laughing at serious
scenes which were not only bizarre but ridiculously overreaching. I
really hate it when stories explain directly what is painfully obvious,
or try to insert it, in unrealistic and absurd ways.
Jacket on and Jacket off is no wax on wax off. At least in the original film, Daniel thought he was being put to work, here it's just outright bizarre. Jaden's character seems to be oblivious of the obvious, and unquestioning of the ridiculous.
Ralph Macchio's performance was far more believable. Jaden Smith goes way to far way too quick, from wimp to kung fu champion. The exaggeration and elaborate fight scenes really removed me from a sense of realism, that its predecessor had.
I found the mother character to be at odds with this move. I would have preferred if her role was downplayed. She was ultimately lacking chemistry with Jaden and not an interesting character, mostly annoying.
Just a quick comparison with Pat Morita and Jacky Chan. Chan is flash with Chinese superstition. Pat was subtle with universal wisdom and was far more endearing.
There is just far too much mundane filler, it really slows the movie down and in conclusion when this movie wasn't extremely bizarre, I found it to be more flash than substance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the previews I knew this movie wasn't going to do justice to the
original. I mean, can anything? I wasn't planning on watching it, but
my best friend wanted to see it and I gave in. Bad idea. It was a waste
of my money.
First and foremost, let us point out what a lot of people have already mentioned. Jayden Smith cannot act. Like, at all. I don't care if he's Will Smith's son, it's not like acting is genetic. He was just trying too hard to be funny, and too hard to be serious. It didn't seem natural, like he was in the moment. Just him... acting. Of course, I can't say the same for Jackie Chan. He didn't do much, and that was good! Not that I don't like Jackie Chan, it's just it's good to see him as a trainer for once. I wish he would have fought more, though.
Secondly, the plot sucked. I mean, it was a bunch of middle-schoolers flying. Like, I get China is a little crazy on the Kung Fu, but come on! The fighting scene where "Dre" is running from the Chinese kids is not that bad of a scene, I'll admit, but it kept occurring to me that these kids are like 10 and 12. Then there's the whole Dre and Chinese girl romance thing. I was falling asleep every time they were together. I mean, you're 12! As someone else on IMDb said, there is no sexual tension! Sure it's family-orientated, but it's uninteresting to the rest.
Then the predictability. The friend who dragged me there told me half of the whole movie, and she's never watched it before. It's so boring sitting there knowing what's going to happen. Of course, he was going to win, of course he was going to run faster. Of course Jackie Chan would save him, like, I didn't even have to watch the whole thing to know what was going to happen.
Also, a lot of the scenes were pointless. I can see why the movie was so long. I can only imagine if they have an extended version! Dre drinking from the Dragon water or whatever, what did that do? I also didn't understand why Jackie was so reluctant to teach Dre at first. I imagined it had something to do with the crazy trainer, but with all the time they had, never developed a true story. Okay, so he got into an accident and killed his wife and kid... I'm sorry? Like, what does that have to really do with anything?
Overall, it wasn't worth watching. Or maybe it's not a movie you'd watch twice, because I sure as hell won't. God forbid they make a sequel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK so I'll give the movie some credit for trying to be a coming of age
type story. If you can sit through the first half hour plus of Jaden
Smith being a complete brat to everyone (especially his mother who just
lays down and takes it), then maybe you get to Jackie Chan's short (and
only) real fight scene, and Jaden learning some Kung Fu.
I grew up a Will Smith fan and the Fresh Prince and some of his early movies were good. But seriously Will does whatever he wants now, which is mostly complete garbage (can you say Hancock???). I respect what he does, but seriously him shamelessly buying his son into a movie is ridiculous. Maybe in 10years Jaden will have some actual acting skills, but for now this movie has been hyped up way too much and is way too crappy to be worth anyones time. I respect the effort Jaden put in to training for the Kung Fu in the movie, but maybe he should have spent a lot more time actually practicing acting. His acting is not good and he spends the movie trying to be a bad ass. A couple more beatings from the other kids in this movie and you think he'd be humble instead of thinking he was the toughest guy out there. The acting is pretty bad, and anyone who thinks the acting and script are good are idiots and probably blame it on a language barrier for the supporting cast. Will should've produced this entire movie in Mandarin and slapped subtitles on it so then its just a crap version of a Kung Fu movie and we don't notice the terrible acting that accentuates a bad script.
The only redeeming quality of this movie is Jackie Chan, and he isn't at his comedic best (because lets face it, we all love Jackie because he's funny). But if you like Jackie beating up a group of kids, then fast forward to almost the 40th minute, watch about 2 minutes of the movie and that's all you need to see. Then you can come and write a review saying how amazing the movie is and be ignorant to the fact that rest of the movie sucks.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Last Saturday, I went to watch this movie with a friend of mine and his
children. Actually his children wanted to watch the movie. But after 40
minutes the children couldn't stand anymore so we left.
In this remake of Karate Kid starred Jaden Smith the son of a very important American actor (that's how he got the part) and Jackie Chan. The remake is roughly two and half hour and his definitely not comparable even for just a sec with the original one.
In the original Karate kid starred Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita. The original was a good movie. With a lots of action, drama and love.
By the way, although the movie-maker have tried to cover up Jaden Smith poor acting, everybody can understand that he can't act.
Save your money and watch the original or watch something else.
Hopefully they don't do a sequel for Karate Kid 2
Over the years, I have taken a lot of grief from friends for making The
Karate Kid, the 1984 movie directed by Rocky Oscar winner John G.
Avildsen, one of my five favorite movies of all time. So it was with
apprehension and low expectations that I went to see the remake.
Wow, what a magnificent job of re-creating the first film while modernizing it, setting it in China, and bringing all the tension, man-love, and depth back to the big screen. This time, Dutch director Harald Zwart added wonderful scenic views of China and lost a bit of the sometimes-cheesy dialog. But to his credit, he kept a great deal of the original plot intact. Mom is transferred to Beijing and takes her son with her without much worrying about his feelings. Dre immediately finds trouble as the American outsider who befriends the beautiful Chinese girl. There is the evil sensei of the trained-to-maim thugs who rule the school that our hero, Dre Parker (Jaden Smith), has been thrown into. The bad kids target him, and he gets the heck beat out of him.
To the rescue comes the maintenance guy in the apartment building in which he lives. Played by Jackie Chan, Mr. Han isn't quite as sage as Mr. Miyagi but he uses almost the same technique (not exactly wax-on-wax-off, paint-the-fence, and sand-the-floor but close). His personal secret remains essentially intact, too, which when discovered by Dre, motivates him to work harder. The role of Dre's mom, played here by Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), is beefed up from the part that Randee Heller played in the original. The young girl, Meiying (Wanwan Han in her first role), looks vaguely like Tamlyn Tomita, who played the love interest in The Karate Kid: Part 2. The rest of the film plays close to the original as well but I won't tell you if he wins (as Daniel LaRusso did in the original) or loses (as Rocky did).
Jaden Smith proves that he may be a force in the business for a long time. His parents, of course, are Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and they have created a natural. That was evident in The Pursuit of Happiness. Hand it to the kid: he worked really hard to learn kung fu (it's not karate). And while I preferred Ralph Macchio because he was so raw and not talented as an actor, Jaden Smith knows the camera is always there, which I think he will grow out of over time. Jackie Chan is really quite good here, shedding the recent tongue-in-cheek comedy roles. This part fits him perfectly and Morita would have been proud had he lived to see it.
After my disappointments with so many other remakes, I was pleasantly surprised. The director and cast clearly found the balance.
What a waste of 36 bucks. And that doesn't count the popcorn and
drinks. Somehow I got dragged into this movie by my kid and was
prepared to see a Will Smith horror of a remake but figured I take one
for the team.
It was worse.
Not only was the charm and creativity of the original completely absent from this gratuitous Smith family showcase, but the whole premise was preposterous. Although they claim he is 12, the actual actor is 10 going on 11 and so frail that you fear his limbs are actually going to snap should he land a blow in real life. Totally miscast project with such a offensive plot to actual Chinese culture that I have to believe it will be changed dramatically for Asian release or simply only available on bootleg in China.
Even if there was no original charismatic "Karate Kid" to compare this to, it was way too full of Will Smith ego and nepotism to be seriously considered as a piece of legitimate, quality film.
After renting the movie, I was definitely not impressed with the script, nor with the acting. Being a fan of the original that came out when i was a kid, I'm a little biased but looking at it apart from the original series, it still REALLY SUCKED. Of course, one of the biggest fouls is they're labeling it the "Karate" Kid, the Japanese martial art, when in the movie Jaden Smith's character learns Kung Fu, the Chinese martial art. Even for franchising purposes, it's still pretty stupid. For me, the movie painted several very unrealistic scenarios. The biggest one was the casting of Taraji P. Henson to play the role of Sherry. The whole movie, she presents her character as a complete idiot who knows almost nothing about the world or her son and has somehow miraculously survived layoffs & firings to be transferred to the same job in Beijing. She portrays her character so poorly it makes the plot extremely unbelievable in that no one would ever move someone this dumb to what would presumably be a somewhat important position, or any position for that matter, half way across the world. Somehow they must be short of workers in China and need ours for some reason or another. Another unrealistic scenario was the portrayal of the Chinese students portraying than a group of Americanized thugs completely removed from their parents & their culture. I've been many places in the world but there's no other place on earth where respect & honor are held in such high regard and the extent of their actions are far beyond what you would even see here in the U.S., . Not only that but the script makes it seem like everyone in Beijing looks the other way when this kid is getting the crap beat out of him. It's really an insult to the Chinese culture on many levels. And are to believe that Jaden Smith's Character learned several months, if not a years, worth of Kung Fu & strength training in the matter of days, only by hanging up a jacket on a mere peg? NO, NO WAY!!! It's about as stupid as thinking you will learn a martial art from Diamond Dave, "The Redneck Ninja". I get they're trying to recycle the "Wax on, Wax off" example from the Karate Kid 1 but this is just ridiculous. As for the acting of Jaden Smith, his interaction with every cast member is flaky at best and so was his acting overall, especially with his Chinese love interest which seemed more like two 10 year olds trying to carry out a teenage relationship. As a whole, the script is downright terrible and the acting was extremely weak if not dreadful. Although it was entertaining enough and it's definitely not the worst movie I've ever seen, you should save you money & look for something else.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't envy writer Christopher Murphey's task in this reinvention of
the original 1984 underdog tale.
Firstly, the second time scribe is dealing with source material which was dull at best, but strangely transcended that to become an absolute cult classic for all children of the 80s. This was in part down to Joe Esposito's 'You're the best around' inspired soundtrack mixed with an innocent fighting spirit which beat much of societies ills to the black belted punch - questions such as why is this old man taking such special interest in the Ralph Macchio character? Will all these kids become obese when they invent video games?
Karate as I remember it involved the fairly peculiar kids at school wearing white terry towelling suits under normal anoraks while standing at bus stops rather too late at night. Clearly Hollywood remembers something far different as we find Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) high kicking high above the Chinese landscape atop the Great Walls highest turret with Jackie Chan's Mr Han watching attentively.
Yes, the reimagining takes the action to Beijing where Dre's somewhat distant widower Mother has relocated their family to teach English. Her small part is all too evident as a bit part, under considered and stilted to Smith's Dre and almost entirely inconsiderate and sometimes rude. While the Chinese backdrop plays up the traditions and values of karate (almost entirely referenced as Kung Fu, which I believe to be different) it is repeatedly demonised by Americanisms whether that be the basketball court hustle Dre encounters on his arrival or the bonkers set piece where Dre's mother walks through a slummy shopping Market carrying a Bloomingdales style bag - give the girl a Starbucks latte in a takeout cup.
Hollywood interpretations aside, Karate Kid struggles with an average performance from debut lead Smith whose dialogue and regards to his largely Chinese co-cast are on the same time time delay that his character complains of early in the movie. Chan of course is his brilliant sole- choreographed self but even after so much time, is sometimes barely understandable yet the subtitles ignore him completely. When he's riffing with Dre's Detroit Street, it makes the entire film impossible to follow were it not for a plot lifted directly from the original.
Sure, wax on, wax off is now pick up coat, hang up coat and the action labours toward the tournament fight at the end which disappointingly relies on CGI and wire stunts unlike the early training sequences and conflict fights that are sparky and original - one of the only elements of this film that is. Knowing the plot, you'd think the script would rattle through at a 90 minute pace but instead labours to 2 hours where the first plot point - arrival in China - comes little more than 8 minutes in, but we wait 40 minutes before Chan agrees to train his protégé and beyond an hour before the classic training montage begins, demanded by a genre which just doesn't appear to allow snake training temples and Chinese festivals in some of the movies dullest moments.
I can't see kids enjoying this now in a world where it would be Tekken over training any day and it's just not kitsch or fun enough for their parents wanting a throwback experience with the kids. The pluses are definitely Chan and some elements of the fight production; far outweighed by a non-existent soundtrack, average acting, drawn out and unnecessary plotting plus dialogue which barely works said in English and translates even worse when presented on screen in subtitles - an interesting consideration and challenge for screenwriters and filmmakers everywhere - but one in which Murphey fails.
Of course this isn't all his problem but I wouldn't expect a sequel to be optioned anytime soon and we can be thankful of that.
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