I’m a bit of a fan of the original The Karate Kid. It’s not really particularly well acted, and the characters are rather flat, but it’s a lot of fun, and is a real 1980s classic. So, I was really interested to see what the latest movie would be like…
A surprisingly adult martial arts film involving surprisingly young kids.
This 2010 film is a homage, rather than a strict remake, of the 1984 classic. While it has the same plot points, it has different characters, a different setting, and a different martial art. In the intervening 26 years, it feels like this film has matured and deepened somewhat, and we’ve ended up with richer characters, better acting, and a real feeling of authenticity about it.
The cinematography is excellent, with amazing shots of China showing both polished and gritty parts. Jackie Chan, as a kung fu master, lends real credibility to the role of teacher. Given that the original 1984 film was a bit of a homage to Asian martial arts films, it’s rather apt that this take on the original has real Asian martial arts film chops.
However, the pace of the film is rather slow. It has a lot of dramatic arts, and relatively small amounts of martial arts. Many kids would find this pretty dull, I’d expect. Also, the kids themselves, i.e. the actors, in the film made me somewhat uncomfortable.
The main character is portrayed by a clearly 11 year-old actor. The result for me was that the violence and the romantic attraction were both problematic. The romance seemed implausible and the violence was troubling. The original, with the male and female leads both being well over 18, did not have this issue.
So, while the title’s reference to Karate is less accurate than the original, the reference to Kid is more accurate, and I think the film has suffered for it.