The Karate Kid Movie Review

If anyone out there has been reading my reviews, you’ll have seen a few for some movies that have been remade for the new century. Well, here is yet another one! In this case, however, I feel that the remake is equal or quite possibly better than the original. This past weekend I went to see “The Karate Kid” and left with a smile on my face and my spirits uplifted.
Most people will remember the original movie of the same name starring Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. Released in 1984, this film was about a teenager who has a very low self esteem and gets bullied at school. He befriends a local handyman that agrees to teach him karate. This is the basic premise of the film and is very much similar to the new movie. The only differences are location (they are now in China instead of the US), the style of fighting (the new film is about Kung Fu and not Karate), and the kid himself (Jaden Smith is a black 11 year old and Ralph Macchio was in his 20s playing a 16 year old).
The new film stars Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s son, as Dre Parker and Jackie Chan is Mr. Han, the maintenance man who goes on to teach him Kung Fu. Dre is brought to China by his mother who has had to move there due to her job. On his first day in the new country, Dre stands up for a girl who is being bullied by three other kids. When he tries to help her, the other kids begin to gang up on him and use martial arts to teach him to keep out of their business. They fight each other again later on and Mr. Han is there to step in and help Dre out. Thus begins their lessons.
The chemistry between Jaden and Jackie is terrific on screen. I could begin to feel the bond being formed between them. The character of Mr. Han really begins to be a father figure to the young Dre whose father is missing from his life. Also, it is revealed that Mr. Han’s family had been killed and he begins to see Dre as a son. Their relationship and time on screen is truly the best part of this film. This is by far the best acting performance I’ve ever seen from Jackie Chan. My only real complaint about this movie in comparison with the original is that in the original film Pat Morita uses many different ordinary tasks to teach Ralph Macchio the principals of Karate. They wax the car, paint the fence, and clean the windows. In the new film, the only thing that they use to teach Kung Fu is taking on and off a jacket. I felt like they could have explored this a little further, but this is only a minor flaw.
If Hollywood insists on remaking movies from the past, I do hope they take a lesson from this film. Sure, the story was basically the same, however they just took the basic premise, modernized it and ultimately made a better movie, at least in my opinion. Now, I do hope they leave well enough alone and let this movie stand alone. There’s really no need to do another one, even though I’ve already heard rumors of a second movie. Go and take the family to see this and prepare to leave with a smile.

J.Chandler B+

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