Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Karate Kid - DVD Review


Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson.
Directed by Harold Zwart.

I resisted this movie. And yet, my biggest complaint is that it should have been called The Kung Fu Kid. Yes, it's a remake of The Karate Kid, but this time his mentor is Chinese, not Japanese, and he learns kung fu, not karate...

Jaden Smith, effective in The Pursuit of Happyness and annoying in The Day the Earth Stood Still, is just fine here as Dre. He and his mother (Benjamin Button's Taraji P. Henson) have moved to China, and while Dre tries to cope with his new surroundings, including befriending a local girl, he gets into trouble with the local bullies, who happen to study kung fu, which happens to be taught by a master telling them to have no mercy...

The bullying isn't as bad as it was in the original, but it's also a lot more difficult to watch a kid as young as Smith get beat up. But Dre gets his mentor in the local janitor, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan). I call it now a genius move to hire Chan for this. He was the big name to put next to Jaden on the poster, and it's the most range he's been able to show in a US film. I really liked him in this.

At 135 minutes running time, it could have benefitted from trimming 20 minutes here or there.

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