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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: The Karate Kid

Oh, my poor little neglected blog. How unused you are. Oh well, summer's been too fun. I'm here now to give y'all a review of the movie I just saw, The Karate Kid.

As a person who enjoyed the original movie very much I was a bit worried that I'd be comparing this remake to the older one too much to fully enjoy it. That was not the case luckily enough. The 2010 movie is strong enough to stand on its own two legs and successfull in being an homage to the original while at the same time adding new elements to the story.

Of these new elements the one that stands out the most is the setting. The movie is filmed on location in Beijing, China, which naturally gives the audience some beautiful scenes. It also adds to the story by more or less isolating the main lead Dre (Jaden Smith) in a culture he knows nothing about and he can't even communicate with the majority of the population. Dre is so very American in his attitude, pop culture references and unfamiliarity with his new home. The contrast between cultures is immediate and very believeable. Jaden Smith works well in this role as showcases a large variety of emotions and he does them all very well. I especially appreciated that in this movie it's the american that has to adapt himself to his new home's culture rather than him showing how his American style is the superior one. Believe me, it's a refreshing novelty in movies like this.

Now while Jaden Smith is good in his role the movie's shining star is without a doubt Jackie Chan as Mr. Han. I now see this veteran action star in a whole new light. He pulls of the old, withered and eccentric master role brilliantly and makes it his own. There's a sense of sadness and mystery to Mr. Han. He has a personal secret that is subtley hinted at up until it's revealed. At that point the catharsis scene is one of the most poignant things I've seen on the big screen all summer.

The teacher-student friendship between Dre and Mr. Han is of course the very cornerstone of the movie's story and it is a pleasure to see how it goes Mr. Han barely responding to Dre trying to get his attention to the two of them learning life lessons from one another. It's all pulled off very well and with a sense of sincerity that I personally loved to see.

Unfortunately the romantic sub-plot doesn't hold up as well as the main plot. It's a contrieved and forced and the actress that plays Dre's love interest has basically two expressions. Sad face and big smile. However, it does what it's supposed to do and the conclusion of it was one of my favourite scenes.

Now for a quick list of other notable things in the movie. Taraji P. Henson as Dre's mother is very good. I'm rather impressed that there wasn't any real rousing speech throughout the entire movie. The fighting scenes where well-coreographed and only really implausible towards the end of the last one. I also enjoyed how there was several training montages instead of one which made Dre's eventual improvement feel more natural.

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. It was one of the most touching films I've seen this summer and I recommend it to everybody that's seen the original.

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