Movie Review :: The Karate Kid: A Remake, Not an Homage

It was “I Love the 80’s” at the box office this weekend with two remakes coming out :: The A-Team and The Karate Kid.  And given the choice between the two, the Karate Kid seemed far less able to disappoint.  It didn’t feel like there was too much hype around the movie’s release, but it certainly commanded my attention.

What rang out to me was an interview with the movie’s producers where they stated that this film was NOT a remake of the original, but rather an Homage.  In short, this was going to be its own film, it was going to have originality to it, with perhaps a nod or two to the first one.

Unfortunately, they lied.

This movie was no more an homage to the original than The Office is an homage to Ricky Gervais’s masterpiece in England.  Sure there were a lot of changes.  It was Kung-Fu, not Karate.  The characters had new names.  It was set in China, not California.  Jackie Chan was awesome to watch.  And Jaiden Smith really steps from under his father’s shadow into his own- so much so that I predict he truly could outshine his father one day.

Not with-standing all that- the basic story line and key plot points are all the same- kid starts getting bullied.  The maitenance man comes to his rescue.  Has a beef with the martial arts masters of the bully.  Enters the kid in a contest with the promise of training him.  The kid is defiant but pliable.  Goes through the competition, overcomes injury and insult to gain the respect of his former enemies.  Sorry, hope I didn’t just ruin the movie for anyone- but it’s pretty much what happened in the first one.

That being said, this was definitely a good movie.  I even dare say better than the first.  And at 2 Hours and 20 minutes, this movie clocks in at just about 20 minutes too long.  One of the things they tried to do in this movie was delve into the history and back story of our Kung Fu master.  And while I was certainly moved, it didn’t really seem to help advance the story at all.  Also, I would have loved to have seen them spend more time at the monastery, which definitely a cool scene.
As I said before, Jaiden Smith was stellar in this movie.  Definitely his father’s son, there were some eerie moments where Jaiden was channeling Will Smith.  Jackie Chan was absolutely the right person to try to redo Mr. Myagi, although in this incarnation we call him Mr. Han.  And while I can’t say the chinese kids in this film did the best acting job in the world, my hat is off to them for a valient effort- it can’t be easy to act in a language that you don’t even speak to an audience half a world away.

So go for it.  Grab a couple of friends or a date, and see this movie.  It’s well worth the ticket price, just be sure to hit the restroom as you go in.

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