MOVIE REVIEW …
THE KARATE KID
In Hollywood nothing is final as seemingly buried franchises arise to further haunt movie screens. Although it’s always welcome seeing old favourites return there is such a thing as overkill as the current batch of 80’s influenced films attest. The Karate Kid is the latest from this recycled production line as it gives the series a glossy make-over. Unfortunately the ghost of the original looms large with this humdrum remake failing to hold a candle to its predecessor.
Moving to China with his mother, 12 year old Dre (Jaden Smith) has a difficult time settling in. Harassed by bullies and disliking the foreign environment, he wishes he was back home in Detroit. This becomes acute after many run-ins with local boy Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) - a kung-fu prodigy. Noticing these confrontations is Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), a maintenance man working in Dre’s apartment block. Harbouring burdens of his own, Han attempts to instil discipline in Dre by teaching him kung-fu. Eventually placed in a tournament against Cheng, Dre has to overcome his fears and earn the right to be called a kung-fu champion.
Directed with a heavy-handiness by Harald Zwart, The Karate Kid unfairly trades on the name of the 80’s classic. ‘The Kung-Fu Kid’ is a better description as Japanese Karate has little to do with Chinese Kung-Fu. The marketing team seem more interested in using an established brand name to make more dollars. The Chinese locations are stunningly photographed though proceedings turn into a long travelogue. This rush to the next location shot pushes the story towards a predictable conclusion with its basic coming of age tale adhered to without much enthusiasm.
Much of the original’s gritty flavour is lost in the narrative transportation to China. Gone is urban environment in which the previous characters lived where its disorder made a fine contrast to the analytical fighting style used. The Chinese setting takes this away, as its ordered society lessens the feelings of continual danger. Chan’s casting is also a problem as he doesn’t have the acting abilities needed to be convincing. Smith is adequate although tries a little too hard to convey the teenage angst driving his many thoughts. He more than equips himself in the fight scenes however, with these becoming the best sections of a rather dull movie.
Although its action sequences are great and has amazing cinematography, The Karate Kid lacks genuine soul. Like most recent remakes it’s made a lot of cash meaning it may yet overtake the original’s three sequels in number. Hopefully it’ll run out of juice by then, as too much nostalgia can often be too much to take.
Movie Review Rating 5 /10
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
The Karate Kid released in Australia on Thursday 01 July 2010. (The Karate Kid was viewed at a preview)
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.