Karate Kid (2010)

 

Columbia Pictures

 

Rating: PG

 

Reason for the Rating: Bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language.

 

Plot Summary: After moving to China, a young boy learns Kung Fu to defend himself from bullies.

 

PopFam Recommends: Not a must-see, but if your kids are excited about this one it might be worth a Netflix rental.

 

If you saw the original Karate Kid, starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, then you already know the story of the new Karate Kid. Kid moves to a new city, gets beaten up by local bullies, learns karate from an unlikely master, and then beats the bully at his own game. The 1984 version is a classic. You can't make it any better, right?

 

What is enticing about the new version, is that it stars Jackie Chan, an actor we all love to watch, and Jaden Smith, who is intriguing (being Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's son). The story follows much of the same story line. Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mother (Taraji P. Henson) move from Detroit to Beijing, leaving behind a close-knit circle of family and friends. Shortly after arriving in China, Dre finds himself in a confrontation with Cheng (Zhenwei Wang), a pre-teen with a bad attitude and excellent Kung Fu skills. Cheng proceeds to thoroughly beat up Dre over a cute girl, and continues to torment him at school in the following days.

 

It's during one of these latter confrontations, that Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), the quiet maintenance man, steps in. With typical Jackie Chan mastery, Mr. Han runs off the boys, and takes Dre under his wings, agreeing to teach him the ancient art of Kung Fu. And this is where the movie really bogs down. The movie creeps along at a snail's pace, is uneventful, and plain boring. It remains this way until the end, when Dre faces Cheng at the Kung Fu tournament, which is when it gets interesting again.

 

What I found fascinating about the new Karate Kid, was the actors themselves. Jackie Chan is usually funny and his fight scenes amazing. Yet in this movie he plays the part of a sad, middle aged man who is anything but funny. His character is interesting and touches your heart. This time it's the character, not the fighting that keeps your attention. Jaden Smith, on the other hand, I didn't care for. He's supposed to be the underdog...smaller in stature and new to the culture, yet his cocky attitude made him less endearing to me. Maybe I was just comparing him to Ralph Macchio, who played that part so well (and had a humble manner that only enhanced his performance). Not so much with the new Dre Parker.

 

Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• When have you been the new kid in town? Tell about someone who made you feel comfortable and accepted.

 

• If Mr. Han hadn't been willing to train Dre, what could Dre have done to resolve his problem?

 

• The Bible tells us to "defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed" (Psalm 82:3). How can you actively do this at your school or in your neighborhood?

 

--JW

 

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