12-year-old Dre Parker could've been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother's latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying - and the feeling is mutual - but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts "the karate kid" on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han, who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life. Written by
The original Karate Kid (and its remakes) were classic films, which is why they have stood the test of time. Today's remakes have little to do with the original inspirations behind the films. The original Karate Kid was a "coming of age movie", which had Karate as a means to set the characters in motion. The casting was brilliant, Morita was the old, unassuming teacher that imparted more than just how to block with his famous "wax on-wax off" lesson. Macchio was the perfect teen counterpart - he was every teen, not one with super human or special effects induced skills. The original focused on development of the movie characters, not the action - and it is the simple basics of Macchio's Karate that made his character work and be strong against the more highly skilled Cobra Kai team.
I can buy into the current movie's location in China. With a child as the protagonist it no longer is a coming of age film. And, while Chan is a great action actor, he is not the aged, all knowing teacher like Morita. The current movie focuses on action - to begin cultivating Smith's kid into the next action hero incarnation. This completely misses the point of a remake! Really there is no need to use the Karate Kid title!
Lastly, the shift to Chan teaching Smith Kung Fu is just annoyingly inconsistent with the movie title, although that will likely be lost on the masses. Karate is from Japan; Kung Fu is from China. Although they share roots, they are different. I think to have Smith learn "Karate" would have been an ingenious story line given the China location, contrasting the martial arts and the cultures and ultimately showing the similar underlying goals of each form. Ah, but that would mean the movie needed more than just action to make it work, something lacking in most scripts today and something the director just does not get.
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