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Thursday, 1st July 2010
Movie Review: The Karate Kid (2010)
By Kevin Walton

For those of you who haven't seen this movie yet, WARNING: this review contains spoilers.

This movie is very much a remake of the original "Karate Kid" movie. A very similar story line; boy, Dre Parker (Jaden Smith (the son of Will Smith who also just happens to be one of the movies producers)) is up-rooted from this home and moves to a strange new land because of his mother's job. Boy meets girl, Meiying (Han Wen Wen) which then results in a conflict with the local bully, Cheng (Zhenwei Wang).

Even many of the key shots that defined key scenes of the movie were replicated from the original movie. The arrival at the new appartment and the first meeting with the janitor, Mr Han (Jackie Chan). The discovery of the martial arts dojo and the look that Cheng gives him from across the dojo is the same look that Johnny Lawrence gave Daniel Larusso in the original. Even the mantra that the students chant is the same - No weakness! No pain! No mercy! Dre pouring a bucket of water over Cheng and the ensuing pursuit which results in Dre having his butt handed to him until Mr Han comes along and saves the day by taking down Cheng and his entire gang. The scene where Dre and Mr Han go to the dojo to try to make peace was an almost exact duplicate of the original movie right down to the dialogue, line for line. Even the tournament was the same, with the same corrupt tactics used to try and take Dre out of the competition, the same discussion in the changing room and Mr Han's special quick-healing magic followed by a heroic, wounded Dre returning to finish the fight.

I'm just glad that this movie didn't have Dre painting fences and sanding floors. While, like Mr Miyagi, Mr Han had all his own drab and repetitive tasks to train Dre's body to move in particular ways, it was a refreshing break from the original movie to see some new techniques being used. There were also a few other minor differences in the storyline that managed to give this movie a flavour of its own.

What this version of the movie lacked however, which the original had, was that one all defining signature move that all the kids who saw the movie went home and tried to perfect in their own bedrooms (ie., the Crane technique). Unless you count trying to stare down a King Cobra as something to try at home, this movie lacks that special "hook" that the original was so famous for.

The move that Dre does win the tournament with in this version of the movie is very clearly and obviously done on a wire rig which is not pulled off very convincingly. While the Crane technique from the original movie might not have been as flash as Dre's move, it was far more credible and something that kids could quite safely try at home. Kids, try Dre's move in your bedroom at home and you'll most likely end up in hospital with a broken neck.

Other than that, the only thing that really grated against me with this movie was the title, "The Karate Kid". There is no Karate in this movie. Karate is a martial art developed by the Japanese. This movie, however, was based in China. The martial art that was used in this movie was Kung Fu, and the movie makes no attempt what-so-ever to hide this fact. This movie, therefore, should have been more appropriately named "The Kung Fu Kid".
With such a title it would still have fit well into the original franchise, and the writers would have had more freedom to make this movie it's own without trying to replicate the original.

On the whole however, this is a good movie which will appeal well to the current generation and generate a similar cult following that the original had in the 1980's.

Interesting piece of trivia from The International Movie Database (
The style of Kung Fu that the woman standing on the dragon's head is practicing (at the temple, before the dragon well) is Crane Style Kung Fu. Practitioners of this style are very adept at balancing on one foot, as a crane does. It is interesting to note that she is controlling a cobra (likely in the same style as a snake charmer). This could possibly be a nod to the original in which Daniel defeated a member of the Cobra Kai dojo by using the "Crane technique".