Movie Review: Karate Kid

June 20, 2010

According to this movie, Communist China is sort of like Disney Land in a foreign language

I saw the new Karate Kid with my son. Here is a very brief review.

Positive elements: The whole Karate Kid underdog thing is always fun. This wasn’t told that well but  it was there. The fact that it took place in China was interesting and added something to the film.

Negative elements (there are a lot):

Acting was very bad. Sometimes it is hard to tell if obvious acting problems are the fault of the actor or the director. I think that sometimes a director can use different takes, edit more tightly, or reduce the amount of dialog to improve the way that the script flows and communicates. Whatever the issue was here, the timing seemed off, the emotions seemed fake, and the humor missed consistently.

The mother was a bad parody. What kind of a single (widowed) woman packs up her life and moves with her son to a foreign country? That is an interesting person. It implies a deep person who doesn’t act like the rest of us. Did the Karate Kid explore this person? No. The Karate Kid made the mother a sitcom character – a parody – and used her for comic relief throughout the film. Unfortunate and poorly done.

The girlfriend was an awkward and unnecessary part of the film. Immediately upon getting  to China, the kid meets a pretty girl (who looks a couple years older than him) who thinks he is cute. The whole relationship seemed to be contrived, melodramatic, and silly.

Jackie Chan was a poorly developed character. He is sulky and quiet. As the movie develops you find out that his wife and child died in a car accident. But it all seems fake and uneven.

The training time seemed too brief and magical in its results. In the original, the Kid gets good through many unorthodox but grueling exercises. In this one? There is one unorthodox training practice that makes the Kid go from being a weak and uncoordinated kid to being an overnight Kung fu master.

The movie seemed pretty positive toward Communism. The title character (Dre Parker played by Jaden Smith) wore a red star shirt. Pictures of  Chairman Mao are all over the place. Police were everywhere (without a hint of a loss of freedom). Jackie Chan even got preachy at one point noting how in China they conserve energy by heating the water for a shower with a switch prior to bathing and tells Dre Parker that the US should to “save the planet”.

Over all, the only good parts of the movie were borrowed from the previous movies of namesake and those bits were few and far between.

1.5/4 stars.

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