Saturday, June 12, 2010

Box Office Review – The Karate Kid

Ralph Macchio who played Daniel Laruso in the 1984 Karate Kid was 23 when he played the role. That means that by the time the third film was made in 1989 he was 28. Hardly a kid if you ask anybody. Still I love all three original Karate Kid films and I even like the Hillary Swank one. Now here we are in 2010 with a remake of Karate Kid. The 2010 version is the opposite of the 80s version. See the movie has a twelve year old kid, so it gets that right, but there is no karate in it. The movie takes place in China not Japan and in China they practice Kung Fu. Aside from the grave error of not calling this movie The Kung Fu Kid, I loved this movie. Think of this movie as a band covering an old song you like. The lyrics are the same, but the music is totally different.

The Karate Kid is a very impressive movie and remake. It stays true to the original film by following a lot of the same beats. If you know the original film then you know what to expect story wise. The film takes these original story elements and applies them to a very different setting. Are hero is named Dre and he is played by eleven year old actor Jayden Smith. Dre's mom gets transferred to China for work and he must go along. This is a good choice, because to most people moving into a new country and culture is much scarier than moving to a place like California. Dre has difficulties with the language and making friends, but he quickly catches the eye of you violinist Meiying. Unfortunately the little monster Cheng is trying to mack on Meiying and is none too happy with Dre moving in on his girl. We then see Dre get beat up a bunch, and we are introduced to the psychopath Master Li, Cheng's teacher. Master Li gives John Kreese a run for his money as most insane dojo leader. Dre gets beaten up a few more times and then is saved by Mr. Han who is reluctant to teach Dre Kung Fu. The story may be a bit to close to the original, but with the setting in China the movie feels fresh.

The movie does takes advantage of its location and I am glad it does. The movie is shot gorgeously and we get to see urban China as well as rural China. The cinematography was done by Roger Pratt who worked on Terry Gilliam's Brazil The Fisher King, and Twelve Monkeys. I love the look of the film and it is nice to see a movie aimed at kids that looks this good. The fighting is filmed very well and you will think you are watching an action movie rather than a coming of age kids story. The first time we see Jackie Chan fight is the best one in the film. He fights a group of preteen ruffians and never hits one of them. This was a very well choreographed scene and was affective at showing the type of fighting we would see in the rest of the film.

While watching this movie I had though that I hope kids will have the same opinion of this movie as kids back in the 80s had when watching the original film. There is not reason they shouldn't. This movie is a very solid updating of a classic and I look forward to watching this again. The end tournament scene is a gloriously cheesy epic as the original is and I am glad for it. As of right now this is one of my favourite of the year.

A Gold Banana

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