New 'Kid' kicks in the right direction

Kevin Thomas's picture

*** 1/2

In 1984, there was a story of a teen that learned karate from a maintenance man because the kid got beat up by bullies. That was the plot of “The Karate Kid” then and now, except the kid in the new version learns kung fu. This version, set in modern-day China, is better in pace and action and great music is also present.

Things could be better for Dre (Jaden Smith, “The Pursuit of Happiness”). He has just moved from Detroit to China because of his mother’s job. He has no friends in this new country, save for Meiying, a nice violinist and a maintenance man, Mr. Han (They replaced Myagi with martial arts extraordinaire Jackie Chan.)

Dre has to deal with the likes of Cheng (new actor Zhenwei Wang) and his band of bullies. They knock him down, beat him up, and do what bullies do. When they really start beating the snot out of him, six on one, Han appears out of nowhere and kicks their butts. A visit to Master Li’s karate studio to sort out the bullying matter ends in Han agreeing to train Dre for a kung-fu competition so long as Cheng stops hurting him.

The new version of your parent’s timeless classic is better to me. The bullying scenes are quite intense for the PG rating (but not borderline PG-13.) The story between the protagonist and his love interest is intriguing, since this time around, the love interest has more going for her then just a pretty face (Take that, Elizabeth Shue.) This is a definite drama, but my mother calls it and I quote, “the feel-good film of the year.” The bad thing about this movie is there are too many scenes of Dre taking off, putting on, and throwing his jacket before it makes sense ( more then 5 - we get it already!). They could have easily cut 15 minutes off the film’s running time. All in all though, “The Karate Kid” is an awesome family movie.

Rated PG for bullying, martial arts action, and some language