Friday, October 16, 2015

Karate Kid, the remake

It's a bit old, 2010, and I cannot remember just how Netflix got it to my mailbox.  I had expected the 1984 original, and was mildly surprised to learn that there even was a remake.  It told the same story as the original, with some updates.  Young Dre Carter and his mother, who are black, pick up stakes from Detroit, rather than New Jersey, and go farther than California, all the way to China. There are a lot of picturesque shots of Chinese scenery, the Great Wall, swoopy roofed buildings, and so on. Jackie Chan plays the apartment complex handyman who teaches young Dre Carter Kung Fu.  The school bullies, the rival dojo's, and the tournament follow  just like in the original.
    It wasn't til the middle of the movie, reading the English subtitles for the Chinese language dialogue that I figured out that Dre Carter was a boy rather than a girl.  Dre, played by Jadeen Smith, son of William Smith, wears a long shaggy dreadlocks haircut,  is a young skinny kid, and kind of cute looking.  It's a boy who waves goodbye to him in Detroit, and the first kid he meets in China is a blonde boy, who looks cute but fades out of the story pretty quickly. 
    I never did hear about this movie back in 2010 when it was released.  Chalk that up to miserable studio publicity efforts.  I don't remember any comment on the blogs and websites I cruise regularly. 
    The remake ain't nearly as good as the original.  Jackie Chan didn't play his part nearly as well as Pat Morita did 25 years ago.  He didn't have the good punch lines in his dialogue, and he didn't do the inscrutable Oriental bit as well as Pat Morita did.  Jadeen Smith didn't develop the warm father-son relationship with Mr Hung (Jackie Chan) that Ralph Macchio did with Mr. Miyagi in the original.  My other complaint, is Jadeen Smith's opponent in the tournament was a lot bigger, taller, and heavier than Jadeen, to the point where the "willing suspension of disbelief" became unwilling.  I'm watching the match saying to myself, "No way does a kid that skinny, and that short, has a chance to beat that much bigger, taller, heavier kid."  The climax fight scene would have been more exciting to watch had the opponents been more evenly matched.
   Hollywood does a lot of remakes.  Some of them come out pretty good, The Prisoner of Zenda in the 1950's was better than it's predecessor from the 1930's.  The True Grit remake was pretty good, especially going up again John Wayne's version which many call the Duke's best movie.  The suits in Hollywood and New York like remakes, they figure all the people who liked the original will come to see the remake.  Doing a new movie from the ground up (new characters, new story, new sets) is always risky, the audience may not like the movie, and it looses money.  This remake did make serious money, although the original made somewhat more. 

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