Date Reviewed:
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28th July 2010

Summary:

Jackie Chan stars as the martial arts master who mentors young Jaden Smith in his battle against a gang of kung fu bullies.

Twelve-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) is just a normal kid from Detroit, but then his mother (Taraji P. Henson) makes a career move that takes them both to China. Dre likes his classmate Mei Ying (Wenwen Han) but cultural differences make problems for their friendship. Even worse, Dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. Dre knows some karate, but Cheng's kung fu skills quickly put 'the karate kid' on the floor. Dre feels alone in this strange land, but then he meets kindly maintenance man Mr Han (Jackie Chan), who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han becomes Dre's mentor, he teaches the young karate kid that kung fu is not just about fighting, but about self-control and adaptability. But will Dre ever learn enough to defeat the bullies?

Review:

Jaden Smith has big shoes to fill. His father is the hardest working actor in Hollywood and also just happens to be the highest paid actor at $80 million in earnings in 2010 alone. The Karate Kid is a remodeling of the 80s flick starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. Of course this rendition has been jazzed up some and now a Detroit mom and her son find themselves in China.

The storyline is unique, albeit implausible. A 12-year old American kid finds himself in the middle of schoolyard bullying and a budding romance. But his taunters are highly skilled Kung Fu students. As the story evolves, so we learn that the peppy kid must team up with his new mentor in Chan. Together they go through a process of healing, learning and training.

There's no wax on, wax off although viewers will quickly see parallels, but there is the famous fly and chopstick scene - with a comedic twist. The movie starts off very slowly and Jaden is for the most part out of his depth in this role. He is overwhelmed by a story that requires considerably more talent and insight.

But it's Jackie Chan who carries this story to its gripping conclusion. And the final kick of the contest is certainly worth the film's exaggerated running time.