The Karate Kid directed by Haald Zwart is designed as a career leap for young star, Jaden Smith, son of producers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
The story line of the movie revolves around twelve-year-old Dre Parker played by Smith, who is forced to relocate to Beijing with his single mother (Taraji P. Henson). He is rescued from the school bullies by Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), with aid of martial arts. Dre is finally tutored by Han, making him an expert in martial arts, including kung fu.
Make that “montages,” because as everything newer must be bigger, this Karate Kid proves longer in length (135 minutes or so) and wider in scope (who trains at the beach when you have the Great Wall of China?). The fights pack a harder punch, with stunt and sound work suggesting that these pre-teens could take down their older ’80s counterparts. Just as Ralph Macchio was bullied for his crush on Elisabeth Shue, it’s Dre’s flirtation with schoolmate Mei Ying (Wenwen Han) that gets him into all sorts of trouble.
In their scenes together, you can see Jaden doing his best Big Willy imitation, trying to emulate daddy’s boundless swagger, and it’s these moments that confirm that The Karate Kid is as much about training a warrior as it is about grooming a star. Jaden’s future in Hollywood isn’t necessarily set in stone by his work here, but he certainly makes a much better impression than he left in his last remake, 2008’s The Day The Earth Stood Still…read more [Orlando Weekly]
Let’s put the shortcomings of the new “Karate Kid” in perspective. The 1984 original, directed by “Rocky’s” Oscar-winner John G. Avildsen, was hardly a cultural treasure. It was wildly implausible and corny, but if it hit you at the right point in your underdoggy adolescence, it generated warm memories.
The remake is equally farfetched, but lacks the innocence that made the first film so likable. The new “Kid” feels like a big-budget audition reel for sweet Jaden Smith, with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith hovering above the bloated 135-minute project as doting parents/ producers. An air of calculation overhangs the whole enterprise like a storm cloud…read more [SJ-R.com]
The revision of “The Karate Kid” is a complete success in our books. It did pay homage to its fore bearer but it also separated itself in such a way that old fans and new viewers would find it a refreshing film to watch. In short, this is a completely new beast – and what a beast it is.
First and foremost, we are completely astounded with how much talent Jaden Smith has in him. Acting wise, he was almost perfect. He danced, he sang and he was god-like being a kung fu kid as he was able to pull off awe-inspiring moves. It just excites us when we think of this kid and what he is capable of a couple of years from now (father and mother genes for the win?). Jackie Chan was also perfect playing as the new master. Although there were less action scenes from him, he is still the funny and quirky man that will give you a laugh from time to time…read more [Reel Advice Movie Reviews]
Jackie Chan co-stars in Morita’s old role of the humble maintenance man who coaches the Bullied One. The older Chan gets, the simpler and truer he becomes as a performer. Screenwriter Christopher Murphey is a devoted student of the original, right down to the drunken confession of a painful personal loss delivered by the surrogate father figure. Chan pulls this scene off, in what may be the most openly emotional scene of his film career. Then it’s back to training montages and storytelling basics, designed to mold Smith’s Dre into a worthy adversary for the kung fu punks led by Wang Zhenwei’s malignant Cheng…read more [Chicago Tribune]
The fact of the matter is it’s been 26 years since the first Karate Kid, and given how many other movies have relied on the exact same formula, a full-fledged remake is pretty fair game. By moving things to China and casting 11-year-old Jaden Smith (as opposed to the 25-year-old Ralph Macchio of the original), Sony successfully put a fresh coat of paint on the rickety old story, and despite a gargantuan running time and paper-thin characters, it’s kind of nice to see yet another kid learn the crane pose.
It’s hard to know who to credit or blame for the film, since director Harald Zwart was brought in well after things were in development, and the film’s likely true authors, Will Smith and the Chinese government that authorized the on-location production, are entirely offscreen. But even though The Karate Kid is a paint-by-numbers remake that exists so Smith can make his kid a star and China can promote itself to the West, it’s also exceptionally well shot, frequently funny and touching, and perhaps most importantly, a vehicle for a great Jackie Chan performance. It’s not quite enough to justify a two and a half length, but it comes close…read more [Cinema Blend]
The Karate Kid follows an only child (Smith) and his mom (Taraji P. Henson) from Detroit to Beijing. Mom’s been transferred. Dre’s resigned to this new world where he doesn’t speak the language.
“Everything’s OLD in China,” he complains. “Buildings. People!”
But one thing that isn’t is Meiying (Wenwen Han) , the fetching violinist Dre spies in the park. He makes his move—he is, after all, all of 12 years old – and another kid beats the snot out of him. As Dre tries to avoid more beatings, living in fear at school and on the way home each day, he eventually talks the building super into teaching him kung fu in time for the big tournament…read more [Orlando Sentinel]
The Karate Kid – Jaden Smith – Interview
Smith’s performance is the worst of the bunch. The joke about this Karate Kid when it was in early preproduction was that it was one of the most extravagant gifts producer/actor Will Smith could give his son. Now that the film is a reality, that joke is not nearly as funny as it used to be. Jaden can’t help the fact that Dre whines his way through most of his scenes anymore than he can help being a lifeless and mostly unremarkable performer. This is especially apparent in scenes like the one where he first plants one on Meiying. The scene itself is canned as all get out, but that artifice is even more obvious because of the way that Smith tries and fails to look convincing as a flustered tyke in heat. It might be his age or it might just be the fact that he got a part because his daddy’s a mega-star celebrity. Either way, the kid just doesn’t have it…read more [Slant Magazine]
If you’ve seen “The Karate Kid” (1984), the memories will come back during this 2010 remake. That’s a compliment. The original story was durable enough to inspire three sequels, and now we have an entertaining version filmed mostly on location in China, with 56-year-old Jackie Chan in the role of Mr. Miyagi.
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 Chinese locations add visual interest, there are scenes of splendor in mountains and on the Great Wall, and the characters are once again engaging…read more [Roger Ebert]
The most puzzling thing about The Karate Kid is why it’s called The Karate Kid. I kept expecting the film to rationalize its title somehow – hell, having Henson, whose character can’t tell karate from kung fu, call Smith ‘my little karate kid’ would have been enough – but it never does. Considering how much respect Zwart et al show kung fu, I don’t get why they left the title as is. It’s like calling a Robin Hood movie The Gunfight at the OK Corral.
I wish someone had realized that 130 or 140 minutes was just too long for this film. With twenty or thirty minutes cut out The Karate Kid could be a grade A piece of entertainment; at this lumbering length it’s too logey to truly compete in the tournament…read more [CHUD]