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The Karate Kid

Score: 78%
Rating: PG
Publisher: Sony Pictures Home

Region: 1
Media: Blu-ray/2
Running Time: 140 Mins.
Genre: Action/Drama
Audio: English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA,
           English - Audio Description
           Track 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French


  • On Location: Interactive Map of China
  • Alternate Ending
  • Production Diaries:
    • 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
    • Wudang Mountains
  • Chinese Lessons
  • Music Video: Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith - "Never Say Never"
  • Just For Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid
  • Previews

I think I could have enjoyed The Karate Kid, this re-envisioning of the classic 80's film, much more if it had simply been called The Kung Fu Kid, which sadly it was all around the world, except in America. Why? I guess because Americans are thought to be stupid and that they wouldn't accept a new version of the classic tale unless it had the same name. But anyway, this new film stars Jaden Smith (progeny of Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith) as Dre Parker, a young boy uprooted from his home in Detroit because his mom, Sherry (Taraji P. Henson) gets transferred to China for her job. What they think will be a thrilling adventure soon turns into Dre's fight for survival when he catches the eye of a local girl, Meiying (Wenwen Han), but also gets the attention of a local gang of bullies. Dre thinks he knows a bit of martial arts and fights back, but is completely pummeled by these Kung Fu experts. As the old story goes, he meets the apartment complex's handyman, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who takes a shine to Dre and teaches him the ways of Kung Fu. Since this is a new version of an old classic, they made some pretty drastic changes. First, it takes place in China and not Los Angeles. Second, Mr. Han (not Mr. Miyagi) is Chinese, not Japanese, and his back story, to me, wasn't as compelling as Mr. Miyagi's, but more on that later. Lastly, Dre is an 11-year-old boy, while Daniel (Ralph Macchio) was a senior in high school. The change in age certainly makes the romantic aspect of the movie that much more thin.

While the scenery in China was gorgeous and the acting was quite good, it just didn't have the heart of the original. I can understand wanting to revisit such an iconic film, but to me, the original was better left alone. Why not come up with something completely original instead of trying to fit the old into a new mold? The original was a story about teenage romance and the angst of being the new guy and not fitting in, and while this film is trying to do sort of the same thing, I never felt the love and connection between Dre and Mr. Han that was there between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Han's back story involved a car accident taking the lives of his wife and child and every year, he rebuilds the car that was in the accident, only to demolish it on the anniversary of their deaths. Again, it's one of those things that probably looked really good on paper, but just feels paper thin and contrived in the film.

Taraji P. Henson came off as annoying, but Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan were great in their roles. It's cool to see Chan in the role of mentor and watching him beat up a gang of kids by making them attack each other in typical Chan style was lots of fun. They did change up the ending somewhat and that was a good thing, but overall, the film just left me cold.

Considering the lovely Chinese vistas, the film looks wonderful on Blu-ray. Everything is crisp and sharp, so high def is the way to go for viewing The Karate Kid. Special features include an interactive map with the locations from the film so you can click to get more info on each place, production diaries that cover all aspects of training, the actors, the locations and such, a full-fledged making-of featurette that repeats some of the content covered in the production diaries, but is still quite deep, a Justin Bieber/Jaden Smith music video, and finally Chinese lessons. I thought the inclusion of the Chinese lessons was cool, but I found the audio to be clipped at the very beginning of each lesson. Maybe this was a PS3-specific thing, but still, that put a damper on it, to say the least. There is a cool alternate ending with Jackie Chan fighting, which is definitely worth watching, plus the film comes not only packaged with a Blu-ray disc, but also a Digital Copy and DVD copy.

Overall, if you go into The Karate Kid forgetting the original and thinking of it as The Kung Fu Kid, since after all, Dre learns Kung Fu and not Karate, you'll probably enjoy it more. While it's a feel-good good martial arts movie, to me, it's just not The Karate Kid.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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