The Karate Kid Reviews
While faithful in spirit to the modest 1984 original, this bigger-budget remake occasionally goes too far in its aim to be more epic. But the chemistry between Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan grounds the movie, imbuing it with sincerity and poignance.
The new Karate Kid brings fresh life and perspective to the classic tale of perseverance and cross-generational friendship, thanks to Harald Zwart's sensitive direction and two exceptionally appealing stars.
At the end of The Karate Kid, the preview audience with whom I saw the film stood and cheered with the fervor of new converts. You could almost be forgiven for thinking it was 1984 all over again.
Smith can handle what the film throws at him, and he and Chan nail the life-lesson parts. Yet like the way Han kills a fly with a swatter instead of catching it with chopsticks, the film replaces finesse with hit-you-over-the-head might.
Jaden is endearing in his own way, and the abstract notion of Jackie Chan in Pat Norita's role of the wise mentor almost obscures the reality of Mr. Chan's zonked performance, which simulates warm feelings toward the kid without risk of infectiousness.
In a marketplace mad for 3D, it's good to see a dramatic adventure built for young audiences (and the rest of us) that achieves its depth the old-fashioned way, with characters struggling and maturing.
The original was one of its year's best movies. The new one lacks the perfect freshness of that one; there aren't many surprises, as it follows the 1984 version almost point by point. But here is a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet.
The title of the redux is a stretch, since Dre is the kung fu kid, not karate. Little matter. "Fight hard, earn respect, boys leave you alone," Chan's character advises, practicing his screenplay pitch.
The plot takes forever to get rolling, and the movie is hamstrung by numerous tourism sequences (from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall) facilitated by the state-run China Film Group.
A popcorn picture that thinks it's The Last Emperor, The Karate Kid is about as likely to grab your youngster's attention as any other propaganda film made by the Chinese government.