The Karate Kid (2010)

Starring : Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan
Director(s) : Harald Zwart
Distributor(s) : Columbia

Synopsis ;   In "The Karate Kid" Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) tells his student Dre (Jaden Smith), "Everything is kung fu… The way you put on a jacket. The way you treat people." This envisioning of the original "The Karate Kid" is inspired. "The Karate Kid" is awesome. Director Harald Zwart and screenwriter Christopher Murphey basically follow Robert Mark Kamen's 1984 story reset in China. The distinguishing difference is Jackie Chan as kung fu teacher Mr. Han. Chan is a martial arts master and the real deal. He commands an emotional and authentic gravitas. Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) possesses his dad's charisma and presence. Smith trained intensely, and looks strong in martial arts action. This "Karate Kid" has the same message, and now the exquisite martial arts to match. We see bright students practicing at the legendary Shaolin Temple. In a breathtaking scene an elegant woman demonstrates the snake kung fu style with a cobra on a beautiful mountain temple ledge.

"The Karate Kid" filmed in China for about 60 days. So we also get a spectacular glimpse of China be it the Forbidden City or The Great Wall. I had a new appreciation of this "Karate Kid" being now a martial arts teacher. "Everything is kung fu." That is the way. The Karate Kid" is about reclaiming one's courage and power. At the story arc Mr. Han tells Dre, "Always strong!" I think "The Karate Kid" surpasses the original in form and spirit.

In "The Karate Kid" 12 year-old Dre (Smith) and his mother Sherry Parker (Taraji P. Henson) move from Detroit to China. Sherry does this to continue working for car manufacturer. We find out that Dre's Dad recently died as well. Dre is not happy about the move, having to learn Chinese, and going to a new school. However, he falls for a cute Chinese girl Meiying (pretty Wenwen Han), a violin protégé. Turns out Dre becomes the punching bag for bully Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) who may be protecting Meiying. Dre is all heart and Cheng is a skilled kung fu student. Consequently, Dre gets his ass kicked horribly. Making matters worse Dre also has to contend with Cheng's crew. Dre is hating life.

Just as Cheng and his crew are about to pummel Dre to nothing, the apartment maintenance man Mr. Han (Chan) dispatches the pack with incredible martial arts prowess. Mr. Han reluctantly agrees to teach Dre "real kung fu". He really sees that Dre is tired of being afraid—of others and himself. At the story arc Dre confesses to Mr. Han, "… I just don't want to be afraid anymore." I recall that is what first got me into martial arts as a kid. "The Karate Kid" resonates on that very human level. We all have to reclaim our honor and strength in our own way. For Dre this starts with taking off his jacket, dropping it, and picking it up. This is a clever homage to "wax on, wax off". Everything is kung fu.

In the meantime, Han tells Cheng's teacher Master Li (arrogant Rongguang Yu) to leave Dre alone until the big Kung Fu Tournament—to allow him to train. However, at the tournament all bets are off. Master Li teaches his student mercilessness and only physical prowess. Han reminds Dre, "There are no bad students, only bad teachers." This is dead on.

Much of "The Karate Kid" is predictable, even given its homage to the original story. Though particularly with Chan, we are won over by great heart. He and Jaden have a magically chemistry. Chan really displays depth and range in Han, who guards a painful secret. Smith has great spirit whether he is enduring great pain or stumbling with pretty Meiying. Life is in the paradox. Han commands Dre in the tournament, "Focus. No mind." Always strong. And it is very touching when Dre hugs Han, and tells him that he loves him. Everything is kung fu—courage, honor, and love. "The Karate Kid" honors this with great compassion, humor, and heart. It is about seeing the greatness in others.
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