This one’s gonna also be short. Let me start by saying that any girl that rejected Will Smith prior to 1988 should really be hanging from a rundown basement ceiling plank right now. The man literally does not know how to stop making money. The proof is in Overbrook Entertainment’s latest effort, The Karate Kid, the 2010 remake of the 1984 cult classic by the same name.
Let’s get it started. Using a similar premise as the original, The Karate Kid is about a young kid’s struggle to fit into his new environment while having to protect himself from local bullies. Instead of the new home being Los Angeles, screenwriter Christopher Murphey has placed our protagonist in China. It’s the same deal: new city, no friends, a magnet for trouble and a lack of muscle to deal with that trouble. Fortunately, director Harold Zwart puts his own spin on the remake.
Dre Parker, poignantly played by Jaden Smith, deals with a much deeper cultural clash. He is a young Black boy in a completely homogenous society. He knows nothing about Chinese culture and his classmates don’t know a thing about him. A group of young antagonists resent Dre as he catches the eye of his young love interest, Liang played by Shijia Lu. When the assault becomes too much for Dre to bare, he seeks the assistance of Mr. Han, the building superintendent played by noneother than Jackie Chan. Mr. Han enters Dre into a karate tournament to face his opponents one by one and agrees to train Dre in the true art of Kung-Fu.
I thought the film was very dope. This is a dramatic action flick with the intent of entertaining the masses, which explains its universal appeal. I don’t know how Will Smith does it but he managed to turn his son into an international star. Black leads do not normally crossover with an international appeal but judging from the box office numbers, The Karate Kid proves differently. I love how the director stayed true to the cultural nuances. Liang was in awe of Dre’s hair. The effect of Hip-Hop culture was visited throughout the film. There were language barriers and of course, the common stereotypes. I thought adding those elements to the story was an amazing choice that made the film a progressive attraction. That was a big difference between this film and its original. Will the film become a cult classic? It’s hard to say. This is a different decade and a different audience than 1984.
Of course there are some negatives, but not enough to build a case against really liking this movie. There were corny moments which were to be expected. Some story elements were a mirror of the original film, almost typecasting Asian characters, such as Mr. Han being a drunk just like Mr. Miyagi. 26 years later and it looks like Hollywood is still calling Asians a bunch of drunks. Oh well. Win some and lose some. All in all, it’s a good movie and accomplished what it set out to accomplish. Go see it. I’m sure Will would not mind the money. Black Ebert has spoken.
P.S. I told a friend of mine that she has to cite me if the movie was bad so I’ll stick to my own word. Since the movie was good, I will say that Kendra Chapman told me so.