Before all of The Karate Kid remake haters swarm this post and spam it full of negativity and seething rage, I’d like you to take to the time to read what I have to say and what the video below explains.
Never in my illustrious 11-month movie news career have I witnessed so much misplaced malevolence aimed at one film. A few months back, when The Karate Kid teaser trailer dropped , our comment section was filled with people bemoaning everything from “Jaden Smith can’t act” and “Jaden Smith is too young” to “This is China not Japan so it can’t be called Karate Kid”. A couple of misguided souls even took umbrage with Smith’s race (although those types of ridiculous comments serve no purpose and should be ignored completely.)
I will admit that I dislike and sometimes loathe the idea of remaking a film, but a couple of years ago Screen Rant’s Commander-in-Chief Vic Holtreman listed 5 good rules for Hollywood remakes. In this article, I’m going to list a couple of the rules The Karate Kid follows and reasons why I think this remake deserves a chance to stand on its own. I’m also going to address a few of our readers concerns and then explain why I think they are misplaced.
I am going to address people’s issues with this remake first – please keep in mind that I, like most of you, enjoy the original Karate Kid:
- The movie should be called Kung Fu Kid because it takes place in China (Karate was created in Japan).
- Jaden Smith can’t act; his character “Dre” is too young for the film’s story.
- Screen Rant Remake Rule #2 – The original is terribly dated in either setting or pacing and style.
- Screen Rant Remake Rule #4 – The remake does, in fact, bring something new while respecting the original.
The movie should be called Kung Fu Kid because it takes place in China.
I’ll start with what has, so far, been the biggest sticking point for this film with online audiences. I specifically reference “online audiences” because The Karate Kid remake is scoring extremely high with people that have actually seen the film. In fact, Sony reported a while back that the movie scored just below Hitch for the number 2 spot of all Sony films tested.
Some think it’s a big name grabbing stunt by the studio to use a recognized brand to put viewers in the seats and to that I say “SO WHAT IF IT IS?” Isn’t it the studio’s job to make money by selling a film to audiences by any means necessary? That’s the whole reason we have to put up with this 3D fiasco right now. I want you to watch the video below and then think long and hard about why the movie is titled The Karate Kid and not The Kung Fu Kid:
So according to the clip, Dre learns a little Karate from his Uncle back in the States, from watching TV and as director Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks) says:
Dre thinks he can fight them [the bullies] with some Karate but everyone knows Kung Fu in China. For him to survive in China, he has to learn Kung Fu.
From what I can tell, Sony wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to millions of proud Chinese people and all the studiers of the Kung Fu martial art when they titled their film The Karate Kid then based it in China. They were simply naming it after what the lead character think he knows when he gets to China. It would be like them writing a story based on “Dre” joining the circus as a trapeze artist only to find out he must learn lion taming then calling the movie The Trapeze Artist.
Jaden Smith can’t act; his character “Dre” is too young for the film’s story.
Jaden Smith doesn’t have a vast and varied amount of acting ability from which to draw. His entire filmography consists of one drama, one sci-fi remake, and a handful of TV shows. The TV shows notwithstanding, his acting record is at 50/50 right now when it comes to movie performances.
He was good as the son in Pursuit of Happyness, which could be because he didn’t have to act very much with his real life dad Will playing his on-screen dad. However, he got a big F for his bratty child role in The Day the Earth Stood Still remake but in his defense, that entire movie got a big F. What Jaden did show though was his inability to act as someone else’s child in a film.
I say cut the kid some slack. He’s still finding his zone and what characters he is comfortable portraying and with his acting pedigree (parents Will and Jada, I have no doubt that he will eventually find his way in Hollywood. I can think of a lot of other actors that are doing far worse than 50 percent when it comes to successful roles in movies.
As for ”Dre’s” age in the film, I think it should be a non-issue. The role of Daniel LaRusso didn’t come from a book where there is a clear and defined age for the character so why all the uproar from “fans” of the original? Ralph Macchio wasn’t even young enough in real life to play the 17 year old high school senior LaRusso. At the time of filming Macchio was 23 years old which put him 6 years older than the character he was playing! At least Smith is the same age as his character and there is no 21 Jump Street trickery going on with him.
Screen Rant Remake Rule #2 – The original is terribly dated in either setting or pacing and style.
This really isn’t a hard point to make but I’ll go over it just to remind those that may have not seen the original Karate Kid in quite awhile. The film was made during the early 80’s, 1984 to be exact, and if you will dust off your old VHS copy of the film and watch it again, you’ll have no problem determining when it was made. From Daniel LaRusso’s t-shirt tucked into his jeans with no belt and Ali Mills’ (his girlfriend) ridiculous short skirts with knee high socks and sweater to Johnny Lawrence’s forehead covering bangs – the whole movie is just dripping with 80’s.
As for the pacing, the first film was OK when I watched it in 1984 but now it most of it just seems hokey. There have been vast improvements in camera technology and filming techniques have changed for the better over the last 25 years which has allowed directors to get better shots of the action and record dialog much better. Watch the first one again and tell me if you can truthfully hear what Johnny says to Daniel as he is handing him the trophy. That scene is shot from a fixed camera some distance away from the actual scene and, even though we know what he was saying now, it was almost unintelligible back then in theaters.
Screen Rant Remake Rule #4 – The remake does, in fact, bring something new while respecting the original.
What things are kept the same in remake that pay homage to the original? For one, the entire structure of the story is the exact same – kid and his single parent mom move from one city to another to start a new life; kid gets picked on by bullies; kid learns martial arts from quiet old Asian man; kid earns respect of the bullies by beating them at their own tournament.
From what I can see, multiple parts of the film are carbon copies of scenes from the 1984 film – Dre practicing Karate from a learn-at-home program; Dre getting beat up by the bullies when Han saves him; Han and Dre confronting the bullies and their “Master” at the Dojo; Dre competing in a tournament; Han trying to catch a fly with his chopsticks (which is a nice hat tip to the original while changing it at the same time).
As for the new parts of the story – obviously the location has been modified from California to China; the martial art learned from Karate to Kung Fu; the age of the characters went from seniors in high school to 7th graders (Dre is 12 years old); and, what is the most glaring change of all, the everyday techniques used by Han to train Dre, “Wax on! Wax off!” and “Paint the fence!” have been replaced with “Pick the jacket up! Take the jacket off!” The idea behind the rote memorization training method is fine but I don’t think the modern version will become as iconic as the original.
All in all, I think The Karate Kid remake has done enough to warrant it being a legitimate remake attempt and deserves to get a shot at standing on its own.
Have any of my points changed your mind or are you digging in your heels with this one and not budging your point of view?
The Karate Kid high kicks its way onto screens June 11th, 2010.
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Source: AOL Moviefone