The Karate Kid

Posted on October 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for bullying, martial arts action violence, and some mild language
Profanity: Brief mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Character gets drunk
Violence/ Scariness: Martial arts action and violence, some graphic
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: June 11, 2010
Date Released to DVD: October 5, 2010 ASIN: B002ZG99CC

“Play the pauses,” the stern, English-accented music teacher tells his violin student (Wenwen Han as Meiying). Watching, and clearly paying close attention, is Dre (Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), just arrived in China from Detroit, where he has left behind everything he knows and cares about. Young Smith himself was paying attention, too. Watch him hold the screen even when his character is not doing anything special. Smith knows better than many adult actors how to play the pauses. In his first starring role, his deft and engaging work is the heart of the film.

The first “Karate Kid,” released in 1984, starred Ralph Macchio as a teenager who gets martial arts lessons from a handyman (Pat Morita) and takes on the guys who have been bullying him at a big climactic karate match. There were two sequels with Macchio and then “The Next Karate Kid” starring future Oscar-winner Hilary Swank. In this version, Smith plays a 12-year-old who moves to China when his mother (Taraji P. Henson) is transferred to Beijing. At first he feels lost. Bullies attack him, leaving him humiliated and angry. When the maintenance man, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) comes to his rescue, Dre asks for lessons. And when Mr. Han commits to have Dre compete in the kung fu championship in just three months, it’s time to cue up the training montage and zoom in on the Great Wall.

Even if they had not already made this movie four times, there would not be any surprises in the story. But the movie can still surprise us with its specificity of choices and the connections of its characters. Chan, who has too often been ill-served in his American movies, is well-suited to the role of the taciturn mentor. His one fight scene is as electrifying as ever and should bring a new generation of viewers to his Chinese classics. Smith has his father’s confidence and charm on screen. And it is a pleasure to see the match of the dedicated, courageous young man and the wise teacher work as well for the performers as it does for the characters.

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12 Replies to “The Karate Kid”

  1. .. wow!! awesome dre n mister Han.. great movie… watch out for this!!! love jaden smith…..

  2. Where do I start? First, this movie was everything I expected and MORE! I’m not a mom with a Blog, no disrespect but this movie made over 56 million in it’s first weekend. I will advise that you change that grade mom from a B+ to an A! Reason being is this film takes a pre-teen from the dilapidated streets of Detroit to the newly held Olympic stage of China. The original Karate Kid was a good movie, however, a cross country move from New Jersey to California hardly compares. Furthermore, Japanese use karate for self-defense and although (Shao)Dre played by (Jaden Smith) was taught Kung Fu by Mr. Han played by (Jackie Chan), I felt it was a honorable move keeping the name The Karate Kid.
    This movie held many similarities if you know the story of the original movie. I particularly like the lesson he learn when Shoa Dre felt he didn’t. That’s the scene when his mother (Taraji P. Henson)asked the question, “what did you learn?” as he place his jacket on the coat rack in which through the entire movie Smith lacks the energy to do so many times as his mother stresses the fact to him over and over again. This movie will teach a lot of kids respect for self, their parents, and others who they will eventually stand up to.
    I hope your kids will talk to you when bullying becomes an issue. This movie deserves an A. I believe this movie will make parents aware of the bully epidemic that plagues our society today. Kids bottle their emotions up to the point they kill themselves of fear from peers bullying them. Self-defense will give kids confidence to hold they’re heads up high walking the halls of schools all across America.
    In conclusion, this movie will also teach parents that even when life knocks you down to have the heart to get back up. And sometimes your children have the answers to life’s difficult questions. The Karate Kid starring Jaden Smith and Jacki Chan will make everyone come to terms with themselves.
    Posted by Aristotle the Ghetto Philosopher

  3. Thanks, Aristotle! I’m so glad you loved the movie! I loved your comment. Our views were pretty close — B+ is an excellent grade. I’m glad you wrote and hope you’ll come back again to let me know what you think of the movies you see.

  4. Wow! I showed this to my mom because I’m taking my little brother out to watch this tonight, and we started laughing when we read “Mr. Han” – my little brother’s name IS Han!!

  5. I give the movie an A+ and more. I am a father of two daughters who have been in Kung-Fu since they were 4 years old. One is 12 and the other 9. I have been in Kung-Fu since I was 8 and I’ve been teaching it for over 30 years. I am 48 year of age.I own two schools that teach Kung-Fu and it’s virtues.
    The statement by Han, “Kung-Fu is in everything, and everything is Kung-Fu.” The translation of the word Kung-Fu to English is “Hard Work” or “Dedication to a Task”. The statement means that in order to succeed at anything you must place focus and work hard. As we all know everything worth doing requires effort and sometimes a lot of hard work. So, Kung-Fu is in everything, and everything is about Kung-Fu! You must work for everything. This is what the Art and the word stands for. With all the poor inluences out there for kids this movie is gold. I would rather my kids look up to Dre than the majority of pop singers pushed to our kids by the media. The movie addresses the big bully problem that kids have to face. I teach Bully Proff programs to kids weekly, so I know.
    This movie, like the original 1984 version was truly needed. Not just for parents to see the value of traditional martial arts / Kung-Fu training, but also to take the light off the Mixed Martial Arts and Cage Fighting that so many kids are gettimng involved in today. many parents actually believe MMA is Martial Arts. There is no ART in cage fighting… there is only fighting. The Karate Kid shows a boy who didn’t want to fight, but needed to in order to STOP the bully. Remember the 1st Karate Kid… Mr. Myagi told Daniel that Karate is not for fighting, it’s so you don’t have to fight! That is in all true martial arts. Kung-Fu is the father of Karate and all martial arts! Many schools focus on competition like the teams in the movie. This also is not the true essense of Kung-Fu. Kung-Fu is a way of life
    to instill Respect, Discipline, Humility and Perseverance. Not to use it to win trophies and medals, but to defend yourself and live a life of peace, love and harmony. That can be quite challenging to do… this is why it’s all about Kung-Fu!

  6. Thanks for a great comment, Pablo. I am so happy to hear that you think this movie lived up to the tradition of kung fu. All best to you and your daughters.

  7. I went to this movie not knowing (or caring) that Jaden Smith was Will Smith’s son, or that Will Smith was one of the producers. With no preconceptions to live up to. It’s been so long I barely remember the original, other than “Wax on, Wax off”, and I probably only remember that due the frequent parody of it. I throughly enjoyed the movie. My wife and daughter were off elsewhere, so I attended it by myself. I’ll have to recommend it to them.
    I give it an A, and I can’t reallly think of anything negative to say about it, other than I might give my wife a heads up about the occasional brutal hits in the fight scenes.
    Kudos to all involved for an excellent job well done!

  8. A great comment, Scott, thanks! I thought it was an outstanding film and I am so glad to hear that you liked it so much. Your comment will be a great help to parents and others trying to decide whether to see the film. Many thanks.

  9. I just saw this movie on TV. It was amazing. I love how beautifully it showed some aspects of Chinese culture and history. And some of the photography is fantastic.

    I have added it to tape for my girls. I want them to remember that China is in some ways just like the USA. There is history and grandeur and character as well as malice, cruelty, and cheating. Their country of birth is to be respected and honored as well as their adoptive country.


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