The ability to act in physical roles seems to run in the Smith family. Will Smith has acted in films like Hancock, Bad Boys and Men in Black and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith has been in Collateral, The Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Reloaded. Now their son, Jaden Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Day the Earth Stood Still), is following along his parents’ path of being an actor who can handle physical roles. He also inherited that likeability factor from his parents and as such his future looks bright.
The Karate Kid holds a special place in the heart of audience goers of a certain age. If you are in your 30s or 40s you remember fondly the original film which was released in 1984. I’m sure when many of you heard that they were remaking the Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita classic coming of age/karate film you weren’t sure what to feel. Should you be worried that they will demean the film (as often is the case with remakes)? What was the point of remaking a film that worked so well the first time? A pure money grab? I’m sure many of us were apprehensive and went in with low expectations. Well, after seeing it I can say that you have nothing to worry about as, though it is different from the original, Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan do a good job.
Dre (Jaden Smith) is not very happy when his mother (Taraji P. Henson – Date Night, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) tells him they are leaving Detroit and the United States to move to China. She works at a car factory and gets transferred. Mrs. Parker and Dre arrive in Beijing and not only have to deal with the move, but a new culture and language.
Once there, Dre meets an American boy named Harry (Luke Carberry), who lives in their building. Harry brings Dre to a park where he tries speaking to a girl named Meiying (Wenwen Han), but he gets beaten up by the local bully, Cheng (Zhenwei Wang). Dre starts school only to discover Meiying and Cheng both go there as well.
The hot water does not work in the Parkers’ flat so Mrs. Parker sends Dre out to find the building maintenance man named Mr. Han (Jackie Chan – Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon). Han is sullen and silent so Dre just leaves. While wandering around the city he discovers a kung fu school, but sees Cheng there and so he leaves.
Later, Cheng and his gang of bullies see Dre and start beating him up again. Mr. Han steps in and stops the bullies while demonstrating that he is very good at kung fu. Dre begs Mr. Han to teach him kung fu. He refuses then later rethinks it and brings Dre to the kung fu school. The lead instructor (Rongguang Yu – Supercop 2, Iron Monkey) agrees to have his students leave Dre alone if Dre fights them one by one in a tournament.
Mr. Han starts teaching Dre. Dre is frustrated by Han’s methods as he feels he is not really learning any real kung fu. However, the more they train the better Dre gets. The tournament begins and Dre has trained hard, but will he find what he needs inside of himself to win?
The remake has taken a good film and upgraded it slightly. The young boy still learns kung fu, from an eccentric teacher, in order to deal with bullies. There are also some differences like the increased emphasis place on the mother-son relationship. Plus the fact that it takes place in China we get some breathtaking scenic views of that wonderful country.
Acting is stronger is this version. The entire film lands squarely on the slim shoulders of Jaden Smith and he demonstrates that he has what it takes to carry a film. He also shows that he has his dad’s work ethic as he brought authenticity to every kung fu scene he was in, so you know Jaden worked hard learning kung fu. Jackie Chan is even allowed out of the box of the clown prince of kung fu films as he is allowed to play a straight role where he has to be serious.
One of the surprise hits of 2010, The Karate Kid did better at the box office than could have been realistically expected by the studio. It made over $175 million and was one of the few films of the year that made money in a big way.
-ON LOCATION: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China
-Production Diaries Hosted by Jackie Chan
-Chinese Lessons – Learn Chinese!
-Music Video: Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith “Never Say Never”
-Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid
-PS3 Wallpaper Theme