by David Schuster
What do you know - a remake that actually was pretty good. This summer has been one remake or sequel after another, and most of them have been crap-ola but "The Karate Kid" broke the recent mold.
The remake has some subtle differences then the original but is mostly a carbon copy. This time the frail kid is played by Jaden Smith, whose face is a young dead ringer for his Dad (Will) while the Kung Fu master is played by Jackie Chan. Chan of course has made a living of his comedic karate roles, but this time he leaves most of the comedy behind and shows both a serious and sensitive side.
Once again the story is of a young man in a new environment who is picked on by a bunch of bully kids, who just happen to be part of a karate club. Smith gets beat up a few times until Chan comes to rescue him and then takes him under his wing as a pupil.
Initially Smith listens to Chan about as much as Aramis Ramirez listens
to Rudy Jaramillo. Eventually, student and pupil get their bonding
thing on and become close. No surprises at the end either, as Smith
enters a tournament where he, of course, faces the bullies who earlier
Smith has a long and successful career in front of him. His father is a
box office star, and Junior is well on his way. The kid is a natural much
like Stephen Strasburg is in baseball. Smith may not throw a 100 mile
per hour fastball, but he is so good and at a young age.
Where this movie gets downgraded is in its length. When will these
directors realize that longer is NOT better. It clocked in at two hours
and 20 minutes, and easily could have been trimmed by a half hour. You
hate to say a good movie dragged but this one did, and for that reason it rates a run scoring double - two and half stars.