Rating: 3 of 5
When I first heard they were remaking the Karate Kid, I scoffed. I didn’t love the movies as a kid. I knew they were iconic and classic and still they weren’t my favorite.
And then I saw the trailer for this new Karate Kid and thought it might actually be good. The shift to China and kung fu and a good dose of Jackie Chan action seemed promising.
Fortunately, I wasn’t let down. This Karate Kid works. Jaden Smith resembles his father from time to time and has a nice bit of a good little actor. Jackie Chan gives a decent performance and has a classic Jackie Chan fight scene which is great.
The story is pretty much the same as the original, just reinvented. It’s funny in places and sincere in others, of course also inspiring. The changes they made work well with the new setting and with the new century. Though, put your jacket on doesn’t work nearly as well as wax on, wax off. There are allusions to the previous film that are subtle which works nicely. And there’s actually really good moments unique to this film and some exceptional lines.
I love when Mr. Han is grieving for his wife and Dre literally pulls him out of the car. Then he leads him to the place of his focus and his strength. It’s powerful.
Win or lose, if you fight hard you will earn their respect.
Life will knock us down. But we can choose to get back up.
You keep telling me that when I fall I can choose to get back up. I’m choosing to get up, why won’t you help me?
Because I’m still afraid. When I leave tonight I don’t want to be afraid.
They might sound cheesy, but surrounded by such a beautiful film, so much strength and passion they are inspiring. And I like that. I liked the sense of honor and nobility he taught not just Dre but the other kids as well. I liked that strength and honor were infused into the film.
The other great thing about this version is that the kids are phenomenal. I’m sure stunt doubles were used at some time, but it’s got to be hard to find professional stunt guys with the physique of a 12 year old boy. And there are shots where it’s clear the kids are doing their own work, which is exciting and surprising and fantastic.
The problem is that it’s too long. It’s two and a half hours and the story can’t bear the weight of that much time. It’s thiry minutes in before it even begins to tell the story. Impressively it’s well paced and doesn’t feel long when you’re watching it, it doesn’t feel slow or languid, there’s just too many moments and scenes designed to make the story significant and realistic that the audience just doesn’t need.
If it had been an hour and a half you could enjoy the inspiration and the action over and over and it would have been fantastic. But, as it is, it’s not worth investing another two and half hours into watching again.