Thursday, 17 June 2010

The Karate Kid

We all know how remakes usually go, either really good or really bad, there is no middle ground in the world of resurrected films. This past year there have been a number of remakes hitting the box office. Take for example Clash of the Titans, The A Team, The Crazies, Last House on the Left, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Alice in Wonderland. Some were great, while others fell short of their older predecessors. One that did not disappoint was The Karate Kid, it opened this weekend and was the top at the box office. Grossing an estimated $56 mil, it left it's remake partner, The A Team, in the dust.

I for one, have seen all the Karate Kid movies and was excited for this one to come out. Having not done much research on it, I half expected it to be a sequel but was pleasantly surprised to find it was a total remake. Director Harold Zwart did an awesome job completely recapturing the wonder that was the original 1984 Karate Kid. From the very start of the cinematic experience I was fondly remembering some of the lines and a lot of the scenes from the original film as the new movie played out in front of my eyes. It was the same story: scrawny boy and his mother move to new place, boy meets girl, boy gets beat up, old maintenance man "helps" boy by getting him into a tournament with trained martial arts users, old man does ridiculous training that ends up working, boy goes to tournament, his leg gets hurt but wins any way. It was the exact same story, which is rare for a remake to actually not take too much "artistic licenses." Which you'd think, why bother remaking it at all if nothing big changes. But that's just the point, the writers and the director did such a good job at recreating the story that after the first half hour, I forgot I had seen it all before. There were just enough subtle changes that added to the story but kept with the original innocence of a boy coming into his own.

A few of the most noticeable differences were location, characters, and training. To begin with the characters, instead of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi, we have xiao-Dre (Jaden Smith) and Mr. Han (Jackie Chan). Also the bullies are a bit different in this one. Instead of being some douche-bag-momma's-boys we have hardcore-born-to-fight-machines. I mean these kids aren't human, the leader, Cheng (Zhenwei Wang), would make a grown man run and hide. I knew I was scared when the group came walking around a corner and it took everything in me not to shout, "Run! Run little Dre! He's going to kill you!!" Those were some mean little kids and their training was tense! Comparatively, Dre's training was not so tense. In the original film everyone remembers the classic "wax on. wax off" line and Daniel-san being made to do Mr. Miyagi's chores. None of that here, nope, Mr. Han is sneaky, he mixed kung fu training with obeying your mother. Which is another difference, but this one actually bothered me a bit. It's called the Karate Kid, right? Well then why was Dre learning kung fu? Shouldn't it be called the Kung Fu Kid? I imagine it has something to do with the fact the story was placed in Beijing China instead of California. Ah well, I'm willing to accept that small annoyance amongst the sea of memories.

All in all, if you enjoyed the first film, you will enjoy this one. If you have never seen the original Karate Kid, I'd still highly recommend going to see this one. It's great, gets the same story across, and has some killer fight scenes!

P.S. as a side note, I feel Jaden Smith looks a lot like Riley Freeman from the Boondocks in this movie.

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