The Karate Kid (2010)
Life Can Knock Us Down, But We Can Choose To Get Back Up
Surprisingly better than you might think. I know by now, many film critics have slandered this film for it's obvious misuse of wording in it's title. Where instead of learning the art of Karate, the kid learns Kung Fu. Both a form of martial arts, but neither are same. Rather than be one of those film critics that slander the misuse of it's title, I'll leave that alone for now. Besides, many film critics have already brought it up excessively as it is, so I doubt seriously I could bring up anything more to add about that. As I think the act itself speaks volumes about the film already. Thus, it's not worth mentioning.
However, what I am going to over is the film itself, and how it holds up to the original story. For those that don't know, the original "Karate Kid" movie was about a young man named Daniel Larusso, who moves to a new neighborhood, and falls in love with a girl. The bad part? A bunch of local bullies decide to pick on Danny because he's messing with their leader's alleged girl. Or at least he claims, as the girl seems to be more interested in Danny. Needless to say, these bullies, who are trained in the arts of Karate, continue to harass Danny almost to the point where he feels confused and victimized. That is until he meets an unlikely instructor in Mr. Miyagi, who not only teaches him Karate, but he teaches him many lessons in life as well. Little things like choices we choose to make in life, and standing up for ourselves whenever we're afraid. Some of you maybe wondering why am I bringing up the original's story, but please hear me out, as I do plan on making a very good point about this.
In this new interpretation of the story, the remake is about an urban youth named Dre Parker (Jaden Smith), who moves to China with his mom, after she got a new job there. At first, things seem to be going okay for the kid, as he immediately makes a new friend when he arrives. Plus, he even meets a very charming girl by the name of Meiying, who he falls for almost immediately. Only one problem. A local Kung Fu skilled bully by the name of Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) likes her too, so him and his buddies decide to pick on Dre. Making his life an utter living h***, as he can't help but feel victimized and confused by this whole ordeal. That is until he meets an unlikely mentor by the name of Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who not only teaches Dre Kung Fu, but he teaches him many lessons about life as well. Little things like choices, and standing up for ourselves whenever we're afraid. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a remake, so it'll follow the same plot structure almost exactly the same as the original. However, I'm about to make a very good point about this soon.
For those who just read both the plot synopsis for the remake and the original, I do have a few words I would like to say before delving into my review. Although some maybe upset by the fact that this should have been titled "The Kung Fu Kid" as he doesn't learn Karate in this film at all, nor does anyone in this movie for that matter. However, I always felt the original story of "The Karate Kid" wasn't just simply about a kid that learns karate and competes in a tournament, so he can fight some bullies. Anyone who says that clearly missed the point of the original film. No, the original was about so much more than that. The original film was about a poor victimized youth, who felt helpless as he was being bullied. Then meets an unlikely mentor that teaches him not only many lessons about life, but he learns how to find the inner courage to stand up for himself. That to me was always the main focal point of "The Karate Kid." Therefore, who cares if the kid learns Kung Fu, Karate, Jujitsu or whatever, as that's nothing more than a minor technicality. As that's not important when in terms of the heart of the original story. No, any true "Karate Kid" fan will tell you that the real heart of the story is about a kid that chooses to finally stand up for himself with help from an unlikely teacher, who uses very unorthodox methods that seem crazy but are actually quite brilliant and unique. That to me was always the main heart of the story. Not the martial arts part.
Sure, the Chinese setting along with having the main protagonist train within a Shoalin Monk temple added to the authenticity of the film. Breathing new life into the story despite it's lack of originality, as this film pretty much follows the original scene by scene. Thus, causing this film to be completely predictable (especially if you've seen the original, then you'll know how this ends). However, that doesn't necessarily ruin the film though, as the film plays true to the heart of the story quite well.
Normally, I never try to allow the emotional factor of a movie to play any kind of factor, when reviewing films. Simply because there are a lot of films that use the emotional factor to try and distract from a horrendously bad script like "Why Did I Get Married Too?", for instance. However, this film almost got to me as Mr. Han's words, "Life can knock us down, but we can choose to get back up." Those words alone literally filled my heart with not only nostalgia from the original series, but it filled my heart almost full of joy just thinking how true that statement is.
Does this film do excellent recapturing the heart of the original? Yes, it does. Is it original? Certainly not. However, as Ralph Machio was even quoted as saying, "It's a beautiful story, and it's one of the few that can still stand that test of time." Quite frankly, I have to say I agree. "The Karate Kid" is a great story. A wonderful story about a young boy who finds the courage to stand up for himself with help from an unlikely teacher. It's a timeless story that many of us can learn a lot from.
Sure, you can whine and groan about the kid not learning karate, but then you'd be missing the whole point of the story. The focal point was never what form of martial arts this kid learns, but rather it was about a young man's journey in life and standing up in the face of adversity. That is truly what the original and this new remake are about.
Overall, this film may not be necessarily the best remake out there, nor should it be. However, it's certainly a lot better than people give it credit for. As the main protagonist learns so much not only about himself, but about life in general. How we all must have the inner strength to survive whatever obstacles that stand in our way. Now that is a lesson worth learning about. A definite must see for the entire family in my book.