by Judy Marker, MCJ Movie Critic
Move over Will Smith, your 12-year old son Jaden is a hit by himself. When the father-son duo premiered together four years ago in “Pursuit of Happyness” the movie was nominated for Best Picture.
In the remake of the 1984 classic, this “Karate Kid” falls far short of challenging it as a worthy successor. While Jaden trained for months to succeed Ralph Macchio in the starring role, the change in story and age greatly effects what you see on the big screen.
Jaden is worth the price of admission here, but he is miscast no matter how much superstar Jackie Chan carries the story. Writer Christopher Murphy has transferred the remake from the original setting of Southern California to China.
The trouble here is that it is kung-fu that is practiced in China and karate in Japan. So only the title holds true to the original. That is why movies are made to entertain, especially dropping the age of our hero from 18 to just 12.
Taking a major job promotion and transfer, Sherry Parker (Taraji P. Henson “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and her son Dre (Smith) arrive in Beijing from their native Detroit excited and expecting the best. However, Dre quickly discovers how difficult it is fitting into such a foreign culture.
He quickly becomes the target of a group of school bullies led by Cheng (Wang Zhenwei) who thinks he has set his sights on Mei Ying (Wenwen Han). On an almost daily basis Dre is set upon by the bullies.
Finally during an attack Dre is rescued by Mr. Han (Chan “Rush Hour 1 & 2”), his building’s maintenance man who also knows something about kung-fu. He offers to teach Dre the secrets that will not only allow him to defend himself, but lead him to compete in major competition. Soon it will be time for revenge.
Chan steals the starring role with his many years of acting talent and powerful performance. He does his own stunts and boasts a worldwide following. Smith while giving his best is miscast along with other 12-year olds as the movie unreels.
His parents, Will and Jada Pinkett are listed among the film’s producers. While director Harald Zwart (“The Pink Panther 2”) tried to rival the original, if you have not seen it, definitely do so. It is still an amazing film classic.
“The Karate Kid” (2010) has a much too long running time of 2 hours and 20 minutes and is rated “PG” for bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language. Given the superb performance by Chan and Smith fighting the odds this “Karate Kid” receives my rating of “3-J’s/Worthy Effort!