Thursday, 29 July 2010

49, The Karate Kid


First of all, lets get what we are all thinking out in the open.

The original Karate Kid, although now considered a cult classic was not the best movie ever made. Ralph Macchio never looked "hard" enough to be a karate champion and the shameful 2nd and 3rd follow-ups just made it even worse.

So when this came out part of me hoped it would be a "re-working" like The Italian Job or the soon to be releases Sorcerers Apprentice not a "re-make" like Wicker Man but believe me that barring all but two (or maybe three) differences this is an exact replica of the first film, even down to the damaged leg in the final fight.

But after 10 minutes it did not matter.

Change 1, it takes place in China. Change 2, the "Crane" is now the "Snake" and Change 3, they are all little kids.

In the 1st movie our hero had left college, was able to drive and was pretty dependant. This was okay but in the new movie our 12 year old mini "Will Smith" is totally adorable and what makes it even better is the 12 year old bullies look tougher than the adults did in 1984!! Add in the fact that he plays a part that is so familiar to parents with teenage kids I fully believe that barring the money and fame, he is no different to my own brood with their mess, cheek & humour!

The fight scenes are awesome, probably to do with Jackie Chan's input and after memorable Chan movies like Police Story, First Strike and Operation Condor you know that his fight scenes are quick, funny and completely unbelievable. This is replicated here and the laughs come as often as the ouches!!

You should know the plot, kid gets a kicking, mentor steps in, becomes teacher, honour is defended in tournament, film over. Don't think that knowing the outcome will ruin the experience as this is a thousand times better acted, shot, located & choreographed than the original and you actually believe that Jaden Smith could kick ass!.

It may have helped that "Mum & Dad" produced the movie with Will & Jade Pinkett on site in China to keep an eye on their "more than average" teenager and the first "screen kiss" for Jaden must have been a bit odd with the folks looking on, but there is a reason why this little "soon to be superstar" got top billing over Jackie Chan, he is amazing.

He acts well, fights brilliantly and the "balcony splits" make the best of us wince. Add in the fact that he is still just a kid and already has the swagger of Mr Big Willy himself shows that given the right guidance, scripts and helping parental hand this guy could go along way.

The "wax on, wax off" has been replaced with "jacket on, jacket off" and this did get a bit repetitive but the whole movie (all 2hrs 20 minutes of it) passes like lightening and the finale hits with a sweeping rush of joy and lump in the throat!! All I heard was praise from the crowd and for the first time in my cinema experience I heard a ripple of applause at the end!!

There is a bully, a baddie teacher, a girl, a kiss, a car, a fly swatting moment and more pokes at the original (in-kind) that you could ask for which makes for a funny, witty, fast paced, well written film that I dare you to dislike!!

Not a bad word on this one, I would see it again tomorrow and it definitely hits the blu-ray Xmas list for me.

Age?, 6 & 11 year old girls were hooked throughout and both my wife and I loved it. I don't think I have written a bad review since Brooklyn's Finest but I would watch this a hundred times over rather than a single re-sit of that one!!

If you have daughters that want to be the next "Mrs Bieber" then hang around for the end credits. The final song shows that Smith Jnr cant only just act but takes in daddy's footsteps with a rap as well!! alongside Mr Bieber Fever himself. Too much of the "gag" factor for me but what can you do!

See this if................You like to see old dogs learn new tricks!!