It appears I’m one of the few people that haven’t seen the original but it does mean I have nothing to compare this Karate Kid with.
I’m seeing it now purely for the cute-as-a-`button Jaden Smith, of the brilliant In Pursuit of Happiness fame (oh and son of Will).
The boy did good and the cuteness hits the viewer immediately and refuses to go away. I try really hard to get out of my mind that this youngster went back to school after shooting this and his ‘what I did in the summer’ report would have said I shot a martial arts movie with Jackie Chan.
Having said that, this is as far away as you can get from a Jackie Chan flick as he takes a definite back seat to young Jaden and indeed to quite a few of the young cast.
You may already know that this is the story of a mother taking her son away from America, topically from the broken car industry in Detroit into a new life and job in China. The boy is not best pleased but less so when he immediately starts getting bullied at school. Not by any old bullies, but by the local bad boy ‘karate kids’. Of course the only way to get even and hold his own is to learn the craft which is where building maintenance man Mr Han (Jackie Chan) steps in.
There are some made for 12 year old movie moments like the overwhelming dramatic music when they reach the top of the mountain, martial arts practising Mecca. There was the over dramaticism when the karate kid, Dre (Oh yes, bring it up to date) finds out why his teacher lives in virtual solitude and what happened to his family.
I couldn’t help but wonder why the skinny little Dre didn’t just topple over when pushed, never mind how he survived a severe beating in the heavy hands of the bullies.
Whilst a lovely, sweet and emotional scene, I’m uncertain why the father of the teenage love interest felt he had to let her honour her promise to be at the Karate Kid tournament and yet made her dissect their friendship a few scenes earlier.
Young Mr Smith did terrifically well as he’s in just about every scene and has the charm, comic timing and promise of helping to build another American acting dynasty.
Clearly it’s farfetched that the skinny boy goes to a new school in a foreign country (where incidentally every one conveniently speaks English) and has to learn a martial art in record quick time in order to stand up to the school bully. Surely he could have just moved school?
Go see it if you know any 12 year olds and if you want your heart strings tugged with a smile upon your face.
7½/10 Smile factor 9/10