Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wax on... Wax off

The Karate Kid

Directed by

Harald Zwart

We are all familiar with the Karate Kid plot formula. A new kid in town gets bullied at school and he wants to learn how to defend himself. He then meets an unexpected teacher and friend that teaches him the ways of kung fu through unconventional training. There is a tournament at the end of the film where he then has to confront his bully and win against all odds. It’s a classic underdog overcomes story, complete with a cheesy love story subplot and hokey predictable ending.

When someone told me they were making another Karate Kid movie, with Jackie Chan I rolled my eyes. But then they assured me that the film was going to be good. Still skeptical, I decided to check it out for myself and I have to say the film was really cute. Jaden Smith was charming and funny as Dre Parker. He must have learned his comedic style from his father, because he not only looked just like Will Smith, but acted just like him too. It is clear that the little guy has talent, but sometimes it felt like he might have been too mature for his own age. Although I have conversations with my own 12-year-old nephew that proved to be more sophisticated than some adult conversations, so I could be wrong. I look forward to seeing him grow up, and if they ever decided to make a Boondocks movie, they already have the perfect kid to play Reily!

Taraji P. Henson’s played the role of Dre’s mother. Most people remember her in her in what I like to call her “cross over movie”,The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), but I will always remember her as Yvette in Baby Boy (2001). Much like Queen Latifah, Monique and Jamie Foxx, Henson is on her way to A list celebrity status. I'm always happy when people of color cross over into more mainstream success. She always plays the same feisty character, but she carries it with sincerity.

As for Jackie Chan, he has never really appealed to me. I always liked his fighting scenes but he just always seemed like a character, Chinese exploration if you will. He put the character away and beefed up the acting and it was really nice to see for a change. I definitely judged this movie way too soon and I am happy to admit when I’m wrong. I like the fact that a single black mother moves to China, breaking stereotypes and clich├ęs on so many levels. They kept the basic plot and small details that where in the original film but incorporated enough twists to make it distinctively different.

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