Thursday, June 2, 2011

Karate Kid (2010)

A damn fine remake of the Oscar nominated film from 1984, it's way better than it has any right to be.

Don't get me wrong, I was an early adapter to the madness that is the Karate Kid, being old enough to have seen the original weeks before its initial release at a special sneak preview. I loved the film and went to great lengths to tell people about it. The sad thing is that I'm now rather sick of it. It's a rather bland picture that just doesn't work for me anymore. (Personally I much prefer the second one now, with its Japanese scenes bringing something to it to make it play better all these years later.)

The story of the put-upon kid who turns to the handyman to learn Kung Fu was spruced up and moved from America to China for the remake. This allows for different riffs that make the film more a brother to the original instead of a straight up remake. I think the change in location also brings an energy to it that it wouldn't have had otherwise. This also allows for our hero to really be a fish out of water.

In a review of the film Little Big Soldier, I mentioned that this, along with Little and The Shinjuku Incident , marks the point where Jackie Chan went from a good actor to a great one worthy of an Oscar. Having sat down and recently watched Karate Kid again I stand by that. The fact that Chan was not nominated was criminal. Clearly no one in the Academy was paying attention, as Chan turns in a nicely nuanced and sad portrayal as the man who teaches young Jaden Smith that Kung Fu is more than fighting. It's a heartbreaking role that will bring a tear to your eye, especially when he recounts why there is a car in his living room.

Seeing the film for the second time on cable I was shocked at how good it was. Sure it's a crowd pleaser, but how the hell did I leave it completely off my Best Of 2010 list? I mean seriously, at the very least I should have mentioned it when I talked about Little Big Soldier.

A must see film that proves, very clearly, how some remakes can improve on the original.

On DVD and in cable TV rotation.

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