The Karate Kid (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/07/2010

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 140 mins

Enjoyable, if slightly overlong remake that won't trample anyone's fond memories of the original film, thanks to a strong script, impressive direction and superb performances from Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.

What's it all about?
Directed by Harald Zwart, The Karate Kid is a revamp-slash-remake of the 1984 hit, only with the action transposed to China, a 12-year-old lead instead of a teenager and, despite the title, kung fu instead of karate. Jaden 'Son of Will' Smith (his parents both served as producers on the film) stars as 12-year-old Dre Parker, who's upset when his mother's (Taraji P Henson) job forces them to move from Detroit to Beijing.

When Dre meets cute violinist Meiying (Han Wenwen) he thinks things are looking up, but his illusions are quickly shattered when he falls foul of a group of vicious bullies, led by Cheng (Wang Zhenwei). Fortunately, kindly maintenance man Mr Han (Jackie Chan) agrees to teach Dre kung fu, so he can take on the bullies in an upcoming martial arts tournament.

The Good
Smith (who resembles his father so much he might as well change his name to Baby Will Smith) is excellent as Dre, pulling off the physical requirements of the role and generating strong, likeable chemistry with Chan, Henson and Wenwen. Chan is equally good, toning down his usual, goofy screen persona in favour of something slightly darker and more serious that works well.

The fight scenes (including a brilliant sequence where Chan, er, beats up a bunch of children) are well staged and enjoyable to watch, while the training montage sequences are heightened by the film's strong use of (presumably contractually obliged) Beijing locations, including – yes! – the Great Wall of China.

The Great
The script is excellent - the pre-teen romance is well written and emotionally engaging and there are several nicely observed details, such as Dre lighting up when he sees the credits for SpongeBob on TV, only to discover that it's dubbed into Chinese. It's also deceptively clever - “jacket on, jacket off” initially seems like a lazy replacement for the original's “wax on, wax off”, but it has two terrific pay-offs, both of which are guaranteed to raise a smile.

Worth seeing?
With a strong script, superb locations and terrific performances, The Karate Kid is an enjoyable, emotionally engaging remake that won't upset fans of the original film. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

The Karate Kid (PG)
The Karate Kid has been reviewed by 2 users
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Content updated: 11/12/2017 19:15

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