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The Karate Kid (2010)

Movie reviews by Kate

“Reel reviews for real people”

Rating: PG  for bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language.

Genre: Action/Adventure

Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson

Director: Harald Zwart

Plot: In Columbia Pictures’ The Karate Kid, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) could’ve been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother’s (Taraji P. Henson) latest career move has landed him in… In Columbia Pictures’ The Karate Kid, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) could’ve been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother’s (Taraji P. Henson) 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 (Jackie Chan), 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. –© Sony

Running time: 2:20

Kate says –   3 1/2 “Watch out Will Smith, because if this movie is any indicator of the future,  son Jaden is sure to follow in the big footsteps of his daddy. This kid is good. Really good. His athletic ability and agility in the martial arts department is amazing. He’s got some mad dancing skills. He’s just about the cutest thing you’ll ever lay your eyes on. That’s even him rapping the closing song in the credits with Justin Bieber. Oh yeah…and maybe I should mention that this kid can act. He’s a natural and the camera loves him. He seems completely at ease playing the fish out of water, precocious, hip, undersized character Dre.  The chemistry between Smith and Jackie Chan is easy and believable. The fight scenes for all, including a great one from Chan, will not disappoint. Here’s a minor, but annoying (to me) pet peeve. This movie is about Kung Fu, not Karate. Perhaps it should have been named “The Kung Fu Kid”. We would have still gotten the reference to “The Karate Kid”, it’s the same story after all. I say go see this movie. It’s great fun !”

Ebert says – 3 1/2 stars “Here is a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet… The Chinese locations add visual interest, there are scenes of splendor in mountains and on the Great Wall, and the characters are once again engaging. Jackie Chan is so famous that it can come as no surprise here when his Mr. Han, a reclusive janitor, reveals a hidden talent for the martial arts. But Chan has never been a strutting, macho fighter onscreen; his charm comes from a self-kidding quality. Here he does a good job of cooling down his usual cheerfulness and keeping his cards hidden. In the role of his young pupil, Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, has a natural screen presence. Dre Parker is calmer than the skittish kid played by Ralph Macchio, but so much smaller than his opponents that we can well believe his fear of a bully at school. And when that happens, we can forget obsessing about the 1984 film and enjoy this one. That was then, this is now.” (read full review)

Claudia Puig (USA Today) says – 3 stars “The Karate Kid is surprisingly sure-footed and deft in its new setting. The chemistry between Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan grounds the movie, imbuing it with sincerity and poignance. Smith is a charming and natural young actor. He’s consistently charismatic in the role of young Dre Parker…” (read full review)

Steve Persall (St. Petersburg Times) says – “A-“ “It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an audience cheer as lustily when a movie ended as at a recent screening of The Karate Kid. That sort of thing shouldn’t influence a critic, or else some very stupid movies would earn rave reviews. This is different; I was cheering along with everyone else. Welcome to summertime’s The Blind Side, an irresistibly feel-good flick about an underdog having his day, buoyed by heartland values (even if it’s China’s heartland) and sport as a metaphor for life.  For once, the term “reimagining” isn’t an alibi for exploiting a familiar title; it’s an apt description of how director Harald Zwart tweaks the original’s strengths into something better.  First is giving the title role to scarily talented Jaden Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness), who doesn’t need his father around to carry a movie. Yet Will Smith is hereditarily in every move the child makes — the playfulness in his step and line deliveries, the instinctive likability and expressions that are eerily identical to dad. It isn’t stunt casting because the kid has chops.” (read full review)

Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel) says – 2 stars “The training sequences are familiar yet rendered with verve with the occasional surprise. Henson manages a few chuckles as a nagging mom, and young Smith reveals a hint of his bloodlines (he is Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s kid) in some of the lighter moments – taking on an aged Chinese ping pong player – “You know I have no problem beating old people!”” (read full review)

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