The Karate Kid (2010)

Posted: June 14, 2010 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Director: Harald Zwart

Cast: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith and Taraji P. Henson

Rating: 3 out of 5

A remake of the 1984 classic of the same name, ‘The Karate Kid’ is faithful to the original film in terms of aesthetics. This film plays by the same basic rules as the 1984 original.  Despite a strikingly similar screenplay, it manages to feel distinct through its subtle updates in plot, protagonist, and setting. This is director Harald Zwart’s shot at redemption after making the excuse-for-a-movie ‘Pink Panther 2’ last year.

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mom (Taraji P. Henson) travel to China, where she has been transferred by her car-maker employer. Dre isn’t happy to be trading Detroit for Beijing, but he soon falls for Meiying, a student at his school. This doesn’t sit well with the local band of bullies, all of them experts at the ancient martial art of Kung Fu. (Yes, that is when you question the title of the film.) Mr. Han – the handyman (Jackie Chan) reluctantly agrees to teach Dre how to fight, after almost accidentally signing him up to battle his enemies in an upcoming kung fu tournament.

Jaden Smith impresses here as the film’s star, handling the action and emotional scenes in a very effective way. His character arc from a rash rebel to a calm and composed martial artiste is handled very well. Chan for once has ‘acted’ in a film. He is still at his athletic best at the age of 56! Chan portrays a few emotions in the film which I didn’t know he was capable of doing. A pleasant change from his usual comic antics.

The cinematography of the film is beautiful. Every shot of China including the ones of the great wall, the Forbidden City and the mountain temple is picture perfect. Roger Pratt who has shot two Potter films and Troy has done a fabulous job of bringing the busy streets of Beijing to life in the film.

And although the film does get unnecessarily draggy at times, with quite a number of subplots that are slightly unevenly played out, the training scenes and final battle accomplishes its job in engaging the viewer. When I went for the film in the theatres, people clapped and cheered during the climax. I guess that is a huge compliment to the film.

To me, the original will always be special. Mr. Miyagi is a legend in my mind. But, this remake is very well made and engaging. It is one of the very few remakes that stand on its own feet. Watch it.

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Comments
  1. sonika bhasin says:

    Absolutely bang on! Esp the part about Jackie Chan actually acting and displaying subtle emotions, unlike his other films. Jaden’s impressive acting and leading the film so well. And i agree, even though it was predictable and a slight drag at a few places, you were cheering by the end of it. I would certainly recommend that everyone watch it, especially for Jaden. Haven’t seen someone his age act so naturally. I guess it just comes so naturally to him!

    • dharmeshG says:

      Thanks Sonika! 🙂

      • Tejas says:

        Great Review Dharmesh. I agree completely with your view, except for the part where you mention Jackie Chan’s acting skills. If you’ve seen some of his movies like the Shinjuku Incident, Police Story I think you’ll agree. Though agreed the films were way below par compared to his comic martial arts thing he does but there he did try his hand at some serious acting.

        Jaden is definately the surprise part of the package in the movie. The child has got tremendous talent man. He’ll be going places for sure.

  2. A K says:

    Bang On! Could do with a shorter run time and yeah there was cheering even where I watched it. I feel any kind of emotional reaction of people in the theatre is the BIGGEST compliment be it cheers, tears, smears or just a walk out. And Jaden Smith – serious potential.

  3. A K says:

    Bang ON Mr.G! Although, i feel, it could’ve been shorter in runtime. Yes, there were cheers where I saw it as well. I feel any sort of emotions, be it cheers, tears, smears or just a walk out, speaks a lot about the film on show and is indeed a compliment. And well Jaden Smith, super potential.

  4. This was a nice review, and I agree with you on a lot of points – such as the cinematography, acting etc.

    However, I would like to point out that changing the freakin’ continent on which the film is set certainly doesn’t come off s a “subtle update” in setting.

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