Movie review – Kicking it with the Smiths

2010-09-18 09:16

Film: The Karate Kid (Ster Kinekor)
Director: Harald Zwart
Featuring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Wenwen Han and Taraji P Henson
Rating: 6/10

The only thing more distasteful than pushy parents are the precocious children they mould. A case in point is poor little rich boy Jaden Smith who takes the lead in the remake of The Karate Kid.

His parents, Will and Jada Smith, not only co-produced this film, but were on set daily to keep an eagle eye on their progeny. Spare a thought for director Harald Zwart, whose style must have been severely cramped under the gaze of this power
couple.

Also, it hardly qualifies as a ­remake. For one the karate of the title has morphed into kung fu, the Japanese teacher Pat Morita embodied is now Chinese (in the form of Jackie Chan), the setting has changed from Los Angeles to Beijing and finally Smith’s character is a tween while Ralph ­Macchio’s in the original was a teenager on the cusp of first love.

Smith is Dre, a young American boy who moves with his mother (an under-utilised Taraji P Henson) to Beijing. Within hours of arriving, Dre is bullied by the ­local Chinese kids, all of whom are kung fu experts. Enter building handyman and undercover kung fu master Mr Han (Chan) who grudgingly takes on Dre’s martial arts education.

While the makers were not cheeky enough to do ‘wax on, wax off’, there is a similar analogy ­using Dre’s jacket.

Though Smith is somewhat wooden (remember his stolid ­performance in The Pursuit of Happyness? There has been no improvement), Chan is always good value and he’s choreographed some ridiculously fun fight sequences.

Also, the scenery is glorious, with a visit to the Great Wall as well as a glimpse inside ordinary (Hollywood-ised) Chinese life.

If you’re taking the children to this, leave your memories of the original at home. While the 1984 film was a teen favourite, this one’s likely to appeal to the Camp Rock, Miley Cyrus tween set.



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