Friday, February 11, 2011

The Karate Kid (2010)

Remakes and re-imaginings are not always a bad thing. Classic stories are usually good enough to be told in a variety of ways and updating them for a new audience is often a great idea. However, where Hollywood is concerned, it often simply represents a lazy attempt to tap into an established audience and turn a quick profit. The Karate Kid from this past year is the worst sort of example of this.

Supposedly, this new version was never intended to be a remake. It was supposed to be called “Kung Fu Kid.” Apparently, when they lifted the major plot points and most of the scenes from the original almost line for line, they decided to just own up to the fact that it was a remake and name it the same as well. (That way they could be sure to tap into that audience.)

The big problem is the differences between this and the original. If you aren’t going to change anything, why remake a movie? But when you do change things, it is the differences that determine the worthiness of the effort. Three major differences stand out here:

1. The kid here is just that—a kid. It is hard to swallow all the adolescent angst, romance, and earnestness in these little tweens. Verdict: fail.

2. The location is switched from California to China. Apart from coming across as a major “yeah China!” commercial for the country, they handle most of the culture shock issues very unconvincingly. Verdict: fail.

3. Finally, there is the most famous issue from the original: the training. In the original, Miyagi has Daniel do chores and then reveals that those chores were in fact teaching him defense. Here this whole process is reduced to a completely idiotic exercise in hanging up a jacket. It only barely works for those who are familiar with the original and in that case it just comes across as lame. Verdict: huge fail.

Do yourself a favor and don’t watch this waste of time. Checkout or revisit the greatness of the original instead.


  1. This reminds me somewhat of some of the older people in a church I know of that built a new building recently. These older people wanted to put pine green carpet throughout the entire building because that is what they had in the old one. SOme of the newer crowd wanted to use a different more updted carpet in the class rooms and go with a newer and quite honestly more sanitary option for the halls, they wanted stained concreate. THe argument the olderr people made was that there was no problem with what they had and there was no reason to change something that didn't need to be changed. In other words, they liked the green and the newer generation didn't any more.

    where I disagree with your take on this remake of Karate Kid is in c couple of places.

    1. why can't one view a movie for what it was intended for, entertainment. I found this movie to be entertaining and in some spots enjoyed it more than the originals. in some places I didn't but in many ways I did. Just because it is a remake I have no problems going and seeing it for entertainment sake and not feeling the need to scrutinize it with the first.

    2. THe first ones were created for more of a teeny bopper generation and this one is much more for kids. My boys have seen both and related and enjoyed this version so much more. This one was certainly not made for the original audience that vied the originals, lets face it the whole idea in both the origianl and the remake is so far fetched that any adult looking to view an asimilance of reality if well lets just say they think it should be green because thats what they liked.

    3. for me China was a much more credible backdrop for a plot that lacks credability anyways. Much more than California

    4. I liked Jackie Chan and thought he was a better Mr. Miaggie, at least he could actually do his own stunts :)

    Movies are ment for entertainment and require a sense of the audience giving slack in fitting a story line in 90 min.

    I vote for the stained concrete

    I liked this one better and loved that my kids could watch it and love it today!

  2. Watch it, Jeff! Don't start calling me an old stick in the mud yet! For the record, I was not calling for a new movie to be made just like the old version... I was calling for it not to be remade. Let the past stay in the past. As to your difference of opinion, let me address it point by point.

    1. Yes, movies work best when they entertain, but I prefer stories to also mean something. Art is at its best when it makes people think. My daughter used to think that Hello Kitty cartoons were entertaining. No one would ever say that that made them good.

    2. Yes, the original was a story about adolescence, and it was a realistic and meaningful portrayal with a lot to say about the issues we all faced then. The new one was precisely wrong when it tried to tell that same story with the same issues of hate and romantic love amongst a bunch of eleven year olds. I still can't get over the bully's attempts at being a bad a**. It is too comical.

    3. The problem with the China setting is not China in itself, but the lack of a realistic cultural clash being portrayed. This was unconvincing culture shock story. Ironically, the culture shock elements of the first one, where Daniel just moves across the country, came off as more true to life.

    4. Jackie Chan better than Pat Morita?

    If you haven't seen the original in a few years, you need to check it out...really.

    ...and if "Pick up your jacket." ever replaces "Wax on, wax off." in the cultural lexicon, it will be a sad, sad day.

  3. LOL I will admit that I wanted a yellow convertable for years after that movie and I did watch the originals with tthe boys and they got bored after a few minutes. The jacket definatley does not replace the wax on wax off I give yoiu that. I thought the story line of Mr. Miaggie's past was better portrayed in the recent movie though. And as far as realism goes you cant beat the cobra look into the soul move of the new one. (JK)
    I liked the new one and found it very clean and entertaining and the boys loved it. Thats all I am saying it has merits of its own


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