The Karate Kid
Rocky director John G Avildsen’s 1984 hit The Karate Kid was no masterpiece, so the prospect of a two hour plus remake directed by Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks, The Pink Panther 2) and featuring Will Smith’s son Jaden promises as much fun as a kick to the solar plexus. But freshly reset in unfamiliar Beijing locations, and featuring a uniquely downbeat performance from the usually manic Jackie Chan, The Karate Kid packs a half-decent punch.
Malcontent twelve-year old Dre Parker (Smith) and his mother (Taraji P Henson) relocate from Detroit to China, but the boy finds himself falling in love with violin student Mei Ying (Wenwen Han) and bullied by local gangs. Encouraged to defend himself, Dre enlists the help of Mr Han (Chan), a downtrodden electrical repairman whose unconventional teaching methods prepare Dre to kick butt at the climactic martial arts tournament.
While the tournament itself is a nonsensical affair, with bloodless child-beatings relayed on Jumbotron screens to braying audiences, The Karate Kid is all about the training sequences, which occupy some ninety minutes of screen-time. Despite Smith’s lazy performance, it’s Chan’s considerable charisma and charm in these scenes that provide Zwart’s film with unmerited, but welcome pizzazz.
General release from Wed 28 Jul.