The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Karate Kid (2010)

Listen, there is no way in hell I can be impartial or objective about this movie, for too many reasons to list. So with full disclosure that the original hit every button I had, and this remake, for reasons anyone with half a brain will figure out, does even more so. Jaden does fine--a touch wooden a few times, marvelously alive others. Jackie Chan treated with more respect than any American film has ever given him, ever. The action and martial arts are vastly superior to the first film. Give it an "A."
Only complaint: they didn't go quite far enough to justify the "Karate Kid" title. Some criticism there is justified.

Warning! Sambo Alert!

This is what happens when Will Smith leverages his entire social capital to create a showcase for his son, who fully deserved the chance. A miracle of a film on a sociological level, unlike anything ever seen onscreen before. I have no memory of the "Rocky" formula ever being applied to anything but white folks. God, I would give my left thumb to be twelve again, and start my life with imagery like this. Jason was hypnotized. I am so happy for him, and his generation. The audience was packed at a noon show. Movie deserves to make a zillion dollars.


Dan Moran said...

We'll do our bit. Going to see it on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Wooden at times? You were right to preface your review with an admission of lacking objectivity. The kid never would have had that role had his father not "leveraged all of his social capital". The performance was average, and it makes me wonder what kid was denied his chance, because daddy had the producer credits to put a kid reeking of self-entitlement into that role. Not to mention the plot holes the size of the ISS, a blue collar worker from America having the funds to move to China for another blue collar job? A needless remake vehicle to shove Will Smith Jr down our collective throats. However, that it inspired you so much is fantastic; I could never argue that as a young black man, having to watch people so scared of having real minorities in movies put black/red/yellow face on lead white actors was a crushing blow to my ego. Glad something positive came from this movie!

Bruce said...

Hi Steve, one quick idea: in a movie like this, it would be great to hear your thoughts on the Asian side of it. In other words a "Chink Alert" section similar to Sammbo Alert. Are the Asian characters, including the teacher played by Jackie Chan, given nods to the complete range of their humanity? Do they have lives of their own, or do they exist to help the protagonist with his procreative prerogative? And so on.

Scott Masterton said...

Saw the movie yesterday and loved it. Thanks for your view Steve.

Bruce -

I thought the Asian characters were well developed and the father-son dynamic from the original (each fullfilling a role once lost to chance) was still there.

I enjoyed this one even more than the original.


Steven Barnes said...

The film was co-produced by the official Chinese film agency. Damned skippy the Asian roles were across the board: good folks, bad folks, with a full range of responses.
No one ever gets ANYTHING in Hollywood based on talent alone. It is all a matter of social contacts--don't kid yourself. And while Jaden's vocal delivery was less expressive than Macchio's, his physical acting was vastly superior, and body language in a film about someone who supposedly has learned a physical skill, is critical. If I overlooked Macchio's obvious lack of actual skill, I can certainly interpret Dre's (occassional) emotional flatness as a boy who tamps his emotions down. And he got much, much better as the film progressed.
While I'm not objective about movies--neither is anyone else. While race affects the way I see it--trust me, it affects others, too. Otherwise the imagery in this film wouldn't be so unique.
(In terms of plot holes--they never actually say what his mom does. And hundreds of thousands of foreigners do travel to China to work--China has a shortfall of workers in several categories, and there have been numerous articles about American blue-collar workers seeking jobs there...let alone people teaching English. Not a plot hole at all.

Steven Barnes said...

And I can promise you one thing: if Karate Kid had been remade, and Will Smith hadn't put all of his leverage behind it, the star would have been white. Period.

Brian Dunbar said...

a blue collar worker from America having the funds to move to China for another blue collar job?

Where did that come from, Anonymous? I saw two clues about Sherry's work.

- Dre said his mom works in a car factory. Factories employ all kinds of trades and professions.

- On her way to work she was dressed in an office-y dress. Maybe with hose, didn't see the shoes. Ladies in the trades (blue collar) don't wear dresses to work.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that Sherry is a professional.

Saw it, thanks party to your review, Steven. Loved it. Best movie I've seen all year.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I just saw the movie, and I liked it a lot.

The acting was good overall-- I didn't catch any wooden moments. I'm going to assume good casting and directing as well as good actors.

It's the best movie I've seen for taking a boy's emotions seriously. Anything else comparable?

Do 11 (10?) year olds actually participate in such flashy tournaments?