It's finally summertime and you know what that means... Summer blockbusters! And I happily kickoff my summer movie reviews with this very enjoyable remake of an old classic.
I think it is fair to say that we have all seen the original 'Karate Kid' a bazillion times and we all know the story about the kid who gets beat up by some neighborhood bullies who know karate, is saved by an aging karate master, is taught karate by this aging master, and uses his newfound karate knoweledge to beat on the bullies and win the karate tournement. The only huge difference in this remake is that it is all kung-fu, not karate.
So the storyline isn't anything new, it is just brought to us in a more contemporary style and yes, it actually works. In fact, all the character's names have been changed and are now being played by more contemporary actors. Jaden Smith takes the place of Ralph Macchio as Dre Parker, our new Karate Kid. This role truely is Smith's greatest preformance to date. Jackie Chan has taken place of Pat Morita as Mr. Han, our not-as-old-but-still-aging kung-fu master. For those of you who do not believe that Mr. Han could possibly replace Mr. Miyagi, don't worry, I am sure there is plenty of room in your heart for both and trust me, you may want to keep both because Jackie Chan does a beautiful job in this movie and really seems to channel the Miyagi spirit through his acting.
The direction in this movie is pretty well done. There is some interesting camerawork in this film and it makes it all the more enjoyable. Although it would have been nice to have seen the action sequences in this movie a little more clean cut.
This movie also has a good script. It is very funny when it wants to be yet it has the power to make you cry when it has to ( though lots of it is partly in thanks to the brilliant acting ). These filmmakers really freshened up the storyline and it left everything we loved about the original alone and did something all its own ( see jacket on, jacket off ).
The only thing that kind of bothered me about this movie is that it was a little too long. It takes its time and the first quarter is pretty much just showing us how mean these bullies actually are and introducing us to Dre's love interest.
In conclusion, this is a really enjoyable film ( and watching Jackie Chan wale on 12-year-olds helps too ). It may rely on our warm nostalgia from the original but that's okay because it doesn't destroy what we love about the original, it just brings it all back in a way that everybody can enjoy, which is what every good revisitation should do. I would like to end this review with a quote by Jackie Chan from this film: "Life will knock you down, but you can choose whether or not to get back up." I for one am glad that this one decided to get back up.
See this film.