Title: The Karate Kid
Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Directed By: Harald Zwart
Written By: Christopher Murphey, Robert Mark Kamen
Studio: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 2 hr 6 min
Release Date: 10/5/2010
Synopsis: (5 out of 5)
Video: (5 out of 5)
Audio: (5 out of 5)
Extras: (4 out of 5)
Overall: (5 out of 5)
"We moved to China, that's what's wrong!!"
Dre (Smith) and his mother Sherry (Henson) are packing up and moving to China as Sherry has been transferred there from Detroit. Like any other 12-year old, moving is never easy; new town, new school, new friends, and so on. However, in Dre's case it's not only that, he is in a new country! From the start he is introduced to a boy who apparently moved there from America as well. He helps Dre fit in to some of the activities with the other kids by including him. It's not long after that Dre finds a girl of interest to him, Meiying, and tries to speak Chinese to her, obviously failing. Luckily for Dre, she does speak English so the two are able to become friends. Being friends with a girl has its price in this case. Shortly after his first encounter with Meiying, Dre is introduced to Cheng who is not happy that he is talking to her. He is also not happy that Meiying is not practicing her violin. Cheng's family and Meiying's family are close friends and he watches out for her. As Cheng starts to hassle Meiying, Dre tries to break it up but ends up getting pummeled around like a rag doll.
Cheng and his group of boys like to pick on Dre any chance they get, even physically hurting him at times. When Dre decides to get some payback by dumping a large amount of dirty water on Cheng and his crew, the boys begin a foot race to catch Dre and punish him for his act. Cornered, Dre has nowhere to go but to the fists and feet of the boys hazing him. Lying on the ground, Dre is defenseless. As Cheng approaches Dre to finish him with one last punch , the maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) steps in and saves him. After giving the boys a lesson, Mr. Han carries Dre home where he gives him an ancient Chinese cure to heal his injuries. After seeing what Mr. Han is capable of, Dre wants to learn Kung-Fu more than anything, primarily to get his revenge. Mr. Han will not teach him for those reasons but after a run in with Cheng's Kung-Fu instructor Mr. Han has no choice but to teach Dre and prepare him for an upcoming tournament.
Mr. Han begins his lessons by teaching Dre the simple task of taking off his jacket, hanging it up, then putting it back on, taking it off, dropping it, hanging it up, and repeating this for several days. Thinking he has it figured out, Dre says he is ready to learn Kung-Fu and wants to start with the punching and kicking. As the training continues, Dre and Mr. Han travel a lot of the countryside. They train on the Great Wall and even go where Mr. Han learned Kung-Fu as a boy. This road is not easy for Dre at all, he is pushed physically and mentally, but after some time it becomes second nature and training is all he knows.
Finally, after much preparation and suffering many days of pain, Dre has reached the day of the tournament where he battles some of the best Kung-Fu students in the area. Mr. Han has to constantly remind him to focus as Dre becomes more nervous the closer his battle with Cheng approaches. When Dre steps out on the mat for the semi-finals agains one of Chengs crew members, Cheng's instructor tells the kid to throw the fight but to injure Dre in the process. It was this kind of teaching from Cheng's instructor that forced Mr. Han and Dre to enter into the tournament. Dre wins, because his opponent was disqualified for unfair fighting, but Dre is seriously injured in the process. The doctor suggests that Dre not fight, but Dre wants to complete this challenge; win or lose. Cheng and Dre battle it out and Cheng takes a quick lead, but Dre comes back with more intensity and willpower than ever before tying the score up 2-2 in a best of three battle. Dre learns an incredible lesson from Mr. Han because he always felt knowing Kung-Fu was for fighting people. He learns that it is used for respect and defense, not for fighting. Dre realizes that Kung-Fu can be found in every day things, such as taking your jacket on and off and hanging it up. Mr. Han also learns a lesson from Dre; sometimes when life knocks you down, you just have to get back on your feet and fight back.
Rated PG for bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language. Obviously the Kung-Fu was the focus of the movie. Pretty much all of the bad language in the movie was said by Jaden, which I was not too fond of. I'm not a fan of young children using language in movies.
It is obvious that the video quality is superb in Karate Kid. Another great Sony Pictures Blu-Ray presented in a beautiful 1080p transfer, the colors looked tremendous. Shot on location in China, it couldn't be any other way, colors were crisp and popped right out of the screen. A benefit of the movie being over two hours long was a lot of location shots that were extremely bright and colorful.
Having such a pristine picture would not be anything without a perfect sound track to go with it as well. Karate Kid's sound was absolutely amazing in it's crisp DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. One of the most impressive things about the sound is the producers' decision to use a score rather than popular music. One would expect a movie of this nature being geared toward a younger generation that more popular rock, hip-hop, or pop music would be featured, and while it was in a few scenes the primary music was composed by James Horner. I think it's a decision that will help make this movie timeless. The original Karate Kid was already a classic, however I think this remake has classic potential written all over it. Another great aspect about the sound is the fight scenes. Punches, kicks, slides, and any other contact moves sound great coming out of the subwoofer. Deep bass hits during each punch or kick really made you feel like you were in middle of the action.
On Location: 'The Karate Kid' Interactive Map of China (1080p)
Production Diaries (1080p) Included is Training Jaden; Jaden Smith, A Day in the Life; The Forbidden City; From Jackie With Love, The Great Wall; Olympic Village, Director Profile, Taraji P. Henson Goes to China; and Wudang Mountains.
Chinese Lessons (1080p)
Just for Kicks: The Making of 'The Karate Kid' (1080p, 20:09)
Alternate Ending (1080p, 3:32)
Music video Never Say Never by Justin Bieber and featuring Jaden Smith (1080p, 3:49)
Two digital copies and a DVD copy
If I could sum this review up in one word, it would be WOW! This version of Karate Kid was absolutely perfect in every way. I wish I would have seen it in theaters, but when I saw the trailer I thought to myself, "you've got to be kidding me. The original was amazing and still is today, why remake it?". I still believe the original was great, and this version made sure not to imitate the original in every aspect. Sure the storyline is similar; kid gets picked on, he learns Kung-Fu, battle at the end, lesson learned. However, in this remake they made sure to differentiate these characters from the originals. For example, Jackie Chan trying to catch the fly with the chopsticks and he becomes impatient and swats it with a flyswatter. Little things like this made this movie very much different from the original.
The storyline was great. The acting, the music, and the thrill of this movie were perfect! It captures the emotions of the audience really drawing them in to the story of Dre and you want to see him succeed. Jaden Smith did a great job in his role and I feel that he has a strong acting career ahead of him. Jackie Chan also did a great job at portraying the Mr. Miyagi character, he even came up with the idea of doing the jacket on, off, on the ground, hang it up illustration so that they could have their own "wax on wax off" moment.
Honestly, I wouldn't give this a rental rating. Save the money renting and just buy it! Incredible story, and incredible acting. Karate Kid is one amazing movie that I feel will be great for the entire family. Even if you are a fan of the original.