Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quick Look: THE KARATE KID (2010)

The Karate Kid is simultaneously a remake of the 1984 film and a two-and-a-half hour tourism commercial for China. In fact, the location shift from the original’s California seems to be the only tangible reason for this remake. Don’t get me wrong, director Harald Zwart has made a slick product that’s somewhat exciting and perfectly respectful. It has nice lessons, admirable patience, and impressive cinematography by Roger Pratt. But as our kid who must learn to fight the bullies through the power of martial arts, Jaden Smith, despite his likability, (I never thought I’d write the following phrase) is no Ralph Macchio. Faring better is Jackie Chan, who makes a perfectly fine Mr. Miyagi (even though he’s called Mr. Han), but the characterization still suffers from cheap, magical Orientalism. As the kid’s mother, Taraji P. Henson isn’t called to do much, but she’s such a good actress that it’s always good to see her anyways. I’m not anti-remake, and I’m especially not opposed to a new take on this particular material, but this faithful, plain, and sleepy remake is a retread with very little new or interesting to say.

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