A boy and his mother move to California for a new job. He struggles to fit in, as a group of karate students starts to bully him for dating a rich girl from their clique. It's up to the Japanese landlord, Miyagi, to teach him karate.
Daniel accompanies his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, to Miyagi's childhood home in Okinawa. Miyagi visits his dying father and confronts his old rival, while Daniel falls in love and inadvertently makes a new rival of his own.
The Dragon Warrior has to clash against the savage Tai Lung as China's fate hangs in the balance. However, the Dragon Warrior mantle is supposedly mistaken to be bestowed upon an obese panda who is a novice in martial arts.
12-year-old Dre Parker has moved to China, and finds himself like a fish out of water. He befriends a fellow classmate, Mei Ying, only to make a rival, Cheng, who starts to bully and attack Dre. Soon, Mr Han, the maintenance man of Dre's apartment, fends off Cheng and his friends when they are attacking Dre and signs Dre up to fight in the Kung Fu tournament in return for the bullies laying off of Dre. Dre realizes Mr. Han is much more than a maintenance man, when he's revealed as a master of Kung Fu and Dre soon learns that Kung Fu is about self defense and peace, instead of violence and bloodshed.Written by
After Dre (Jaden Smith) and Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) climb the mountain, when they enter the temple, we see people in white clothes moving slowly and methodically, as if dancing. The martial art they are practicing is Tai Chi Chuan (literal translation "Supreme Ultimate Fist"). See more »
In the music competition scene, the boy playing Flight of the Bumblebee is heard playing high notes near the end of the music but is at the left (low) end of the keyboard with both hands. See more »
Builds on strengths of original while downplaying its weaknesses - overall, a good remake.
The new Karate Kid doesn't even learn Karate - he learns Kung Fu. That's not the only significant change viewers who adored or grew up on the original from the 80's can expect. The story shifts base from the US to China, a move that embraces 21st Century's globalized view of the world as a shrinking village. This remake does what every good, successful remake should do, builds on the strengths of the original while downplaying its weaknesses.
The film belongs to Jaden Smith, the charismatic son of super star Will Smith. You may remember him from his previous forays into acting, including working alongside his father in the touching Pursuit of Happiness. Here he dominates the screen, not only getting first billing but also nearly all of the 140 minute screen time. As a launchpad for a sure-fire career in acting, it is about as good as any he could have hoped for. As Dre, he finds himself the victim of bullying at his new school in Shanghai, where he reluctantly moves to from Detroit after his mother secures a job there. Falling for a pretty girl draws the irk and no doubt envy of the schoolyard bully and his clique. The rest of the setup is as familiar as it is iconic - Dre is helped by the neighbourhood maintenance man, Han (Jackie Chan, exercising some decent acting chops) who saves him from being beaten up but also signs him up for a local Kung Fu tournament where Dre will have to take on the bullies in a final confrontation.
Apart from the obvious differences outlined already, the films setup - African American teen in a foreign land - allows it to amplify the situation to Dre's absolute disadvantage. Not only does he not fit in, he doesn't even speak the language and has even more reason to dislike his new home. These smart choices in constructing the films setup differentiate it as more thoughtful than the original, which seems almost dated (though charming) by todays standards. Even the numerous scuffles, from street chases to the final tournament fight, are grittier and more intense and act perhaps as good indicators of how much our collective movie watching culture and appetite for violence has evolved in just a generation. The one key area where the this film trumps the original is the training sessions. Whether being taught self discipline in how to hang his jacket and not leave it thrown on the ground, climbing some very steep stairs on a mountain or practicing at the famed Great Wall, the film benefits from a more convincing montage of scenes that showcase not just Jaden's athleticism but also the adequate chemistry that he shares with his master. The one area where the film doesn't quite break new ground is in the character of Han himself. While Chan is good in the role of Han, he isn't quite as lovable or memorable as Mr. Miyagi. This is no fault of his, for Pat Morita's character was just so novel (if you can discount the Yoda archetype) that he remains almost inimitable. Also bringing the proceedings down somewhat are the elongated running time and the blossoming romance that feels out of place and strangely stretched into full blown love.
Whether the film itself will stand the test of time or spawn unnecessary sequels via a lucrative franchise, as studio sharks no doubt hope and pray for, remains to be seen. What is certain is that this is a definite crowd pleasure - an improbable underdog Rocky tale for children - and despite Jaden's limited range in expressions, the overall film manages to leave its mark.
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