DD#2 and I decided to take in a matinee today, just to get out of the heat. Of the movies playing, she and I both had some level of interest in three, the Toy Story sequel, the Shrek sequel and the Karate Kid “remake”, or rather, what I thought would be a remake. We decided that Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith were probably a fun combination, so bought our tickets with low expectations for anything but air conditioning. We sat through a half hour of pre show advertisements and fifteen minutes of previews, and then we were totally blown away.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve never actually seen “Karate Kid”. I’ve seen excerpts, and I’ve seen allusions to it. I’ve sat through kids describing “wax on, wax off”, but never felt I’d missed much. I figured I’d watch the remake and mentally turn Jaden Smith white and edit out some language, reset some fashion choices and I’d have it. No, I don’t think so.
This movie is amazing. Beautiful cinematography, gorgeous sets and scenery, beautiful child actors (Jaden Smith is going to be entirely too good looking a young man), and Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan on the Great Wall of China. How cool is that?
You know that scene in a Jackie Chan movie where he finally gets into a fight? Where he takes on a half dozen mooks, all at once, wipes them out easily, and the idiots still keep coming? Well, it makes a lot more sense when they’re adolescents, and he’s a grown man. A grown man who’s obviously trying to decide on exactly the right amount of force to end the situation quickly without hurting anyone.
It’s great to see a movie where every character who doesn’t have a reason to be otherwise is Asian, especially coming (as it is) right up against “The Last Airbender”. It even passes the Bechtel test (barely) – the mother and son are greeted at Bejing airport by a woman, who welcomes them to China and talks about the neighborhood, and the mother briefly talks to a (female) school principal about the school’s rules. Female characters are few, but that’s not to say they’re not significant. In addition to the obligatory romantic interest, the woman with the cobra struck me as being far more significant than her screen time would indicate (and the source for some truly beautiful imagery as well).
True, there are some very formula feel good bits. The main plot line is telegraphed way in advance, and they don’t surprise you. At it’s heart, it’s a Father’s Day movie. It’s about sons without dads, and dads without sons, and father figures and their power for good or for ill. It’s about dignity and courage and honor.
There is a car which figures prominently in the film, but no ‘wax on, wax off’. That part was taken by a jacket. There were some memorable lines, but for me the best was “That is not Kung Fu”.
Yeah, you should go see it.