12-year-old Dre Parker could've been the most popular kid in Detroit but his mother's latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying - and the feeling is mutual - but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse Dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully Cheng. In the land of kung fu Dre knows only a little karate and Cheng puts the karate kid on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han... teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries but maturity and calm Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life. [show more]
You can't judge a film by its title. And you mustn't in the case of The Karate Kid, what with it being set in China and featuring Jackie Chan. It's just a slightly offensive marketing ploy to live off the back of the 1984 hit, which makes you question the motives of making it at all and dismiss it out of hand. They really should have proudly named it "The King-Fu Kid", because despite being a near step-for-step remake, it's actually great fun and deserves a chance to stand on its own.
It's a story about Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) who moves with his mother (a fiery Taraji P. Henson) from Detroit to Bejing. Struggling to fit in, he tries and fails to stand up to a crowd of bullies led by Zhenwei Wang. He becomes afraid of even going to school until meeting Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), the quiet maintenance man who knows Kung-Fu and who reluctantly agrees to teach Dre. A local, ruthless Kung-Fu teacher has agreed his students will leave Dre alone, so long as he fights in an upcoming tournament.
While it's easy to get decent lead roles when your dad is one of the most popular actors in the world and the producer, Will Smith's son Jaden does pretty well in the title role. He has clearly put a lot of work in that demands respect, plus he has inherited his father Will's cheeky humour and timing. Importantly, all the young characters act very well with the adults. Often this kind of film underwrites the grown-ups and the relationship between Dre and Mr. Han especially is very real.
As Mr. Han, Jackie Chan is just magic in what might be his best English speaking role. Through no fault of his own, he doesn't have Pat Morita's natural unassuming calm that made Mr. Miyagi so iconic, but he is just as poignant and brings a beautifully judged humour to the awkward character. The moment he rescues Dre by disabling six bullies without throwing a punch is wonderful. It's brilliantly choreographed, thrilling and very funny in that Chaplin-esque way Chan is so good at. From that point on, he keeps the film alive and proves why he's one of the biggest movie stars around.
The film doesn't flow as nicely as the original, and that could be an effect of over-familiarity, but this version does lack some potential by using a much younger cast, despite their ability. While Zhenwei Wang brings a convincingly vicious ferocity to the role of the main bully, Wen Wen Han as Mei Ying (the girl Dre has a crush on) is awkward and the story loses momentum in those sequences. They are just too young to convince for a romantic angle. The original plot worked as a coming of age story that teenagers could identify with, but I don't see how that is possible this time. Still, it's a lot of wholesome fun and doesn't pull punches. As with the 1984 film, the last half is predictable, but that's the curse of sports based tournament movies and you'll nevertheless be on the edge of your seat!
You might be cynical about why it was made and how it was marketed, but give it a chance, because it's honest and likeable, and could become a cheesy classic like its popular predecessor. This is a children's film that respects its audience, including the adults, and outside of Pixar animation, that is rare and very reassuring. A grown-up movie for kids.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. 12-year-old Dre Parker could've been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother's latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying - and the feeling is mutual - but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts "the karate kid" on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han, who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life.
Remake of the 1984 film starring Ralph Macchio. Jaden Smith stars this time round as 12-year-old Dre Parker, who moves from his childhood home in Detroit to Beijing, China with his single mother Sherry (Taraji P. Henson). There he falls victim to the class bully at his new school, Cheng (Zhenwei Wang), after falling for his pretty classmate Mei Ying (Wenwen Han). Friendless and alienated in a strange new culture, Dre finds an unlikely ally in maintenance man and martial arts master Mr Han (Jackie Chan), who instructs Dre in the principles of Kung Fu, giving him the skills and confidence he needs to take on the bullies who are making his life a misery.