No, we’re not talking the 1984 film in which a young man learns Karate and changes his life… We’re talking about the film starring Jackie Chan, from 2010 called ‘The Karate Kid’ in which an american kid comes to Beijing and learns
karate Kung Fu (for some reason).
In similar fashion to the original karate kid, we have a young boy named Dre (different name obviously) who is the victim of bullying after moving to Beijing. The bully just happens to be a trained martial artist who is all sorts of evil and awesome when it comes to fighting other kids – especially those far smaller then him with less training.
So Dre, played by the son of the Fresh Price, Jaden Smith, is saved from a beating by an old man named Mr Han (not the villain form Enter the Dragon – a nice old guy played by Jackie Chan).
Dre decides to hit up Mr Han to learn his Kung Fu, and thus the training begins as the two boys must fight in a tournament to settle their differences.
Karate Kung Fu Kid= Win!
This movie has some intelligent story telling devices, relatable characters and a level of philosophy that is both real and entertaining without being too preachy.
Both Jaden and Jackie Chan make an excellent duo. Jackie Chan’s performance as the wise Kung Fu teacher Mr Han is utterly fantastic and delivers a real sense of wisdom and real world experience to the character of Mr Han. Plus there’s the authenticity of an experienced Martial Arts actor like Chan that people can connect to.
The story unfolds very naturally and is even intriguing at times building up to some excellent lessons about Kung Fu and life itself, with Mr Han even explaining how Kung Fu ‘is life, it is everything’ which can be interpretted many differenct ways. Any serious martial artist will tell you that training is a part of life, the movements infect your everyday movement and the goals and philosophies of your training make you a better person through your actions and simple lifestyle choices (health, morality, etc).
I personally found this movie an awesome vehicle that highlights the difference between a true martial artist and just a fighter – focusing on life lessons for young Dre and the contrasting school which preaches a ‘no mercy’ way of thought, implementing the belief that winning is everything – even if you have to fight dirty.
I see this film as the two different paths – Dre and Han work towards being martial artists who are out to better themselves while the opposing club is a group of martial artists hell bent on the pettiness of winning and fighting.
The Martial Arts & Action
The first lesson of this movie is really outstanding (beware, spoilers ahead!). As Jaden is told “Jacket On, Jacket off, drop it, pick it up..” we see the first stage of Dre learning how to move his arms and create the physical pathways that make his defense and fighting movement second nature.
In case you don’t realise, this plays homage to the ‘Wax on, wax off‘ element of the original Karate Kid.
Jacke Chan himself had the ‘Jacket on, Jacket off Idea’ and it translates into some nice flowing kung fu movements, and with Jaden’s 3 months of training he manages to pull it off pretty nicely.
Although there is no karate in this version of ‘The Karate Kid’, the message and general feel of the film still works. Watching Jackie Chan passively turn the children’s movements on themselves at the beginning of the film is fantastic to watch and carries his stamp of quality.
Even the final tournament fights have some really impressive movements, with the competitive nature of the fights between Dre and the other kids generate some excitement also.
Some nice action but primarily an interesting story about a boy learning martial arts. If you’ve never seen it I highly recommend it as it’s a modern day classic!
On Blu Ray –
Region Free (All Countries)
The Karate Kid [Blu-ray]
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Karate Kid
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Karate Kid  [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
The Karate Kid