Karate (?) Kid

Comingsoon has the new trailer for the “Karate Kid” remake, which for those who hadn’t heard takes a pretty radical story-deviation from the original: Instead of the titular “kid” (Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada) moving to a new town, he moves to a new COUNTRY – to China, specifically. Beyond that, the main beats look similar with the kid taking shit from bullies and fighting back by learning martial-arts from Mr. Miyagi – played in this version by Jackie Chan. Yes, Jackie Chan.

Trailer looks like about what you’d expect, right down to that awful song that was overused in every sneaker commercial and highlight reel of the last two years, but it’s got my interest for two reasons. Firstly: There looks to be A LOT of location shooting in this, so it’s going to be interesting to learn how much (and what kind) of input the Chinese government had over the portrayal of, well… anything. Secondly: It’s a little shocking to see Jackie Chan seemingly acting his ass off in the role. You’d think this would be the definition of a “paycheck” part, and Chan has been alarmingly candid about how little regard he has for his English language films, but in the footage here he’s playing Miyagi straight and serious with a “patrician hardass” vibe that’s worlds away from the fun-loving regular joe guy he plays in… well, pretty-much everything.


For what it’s worth, Chan learned HIS craft in the infamously-punishing children’s program of the Peking Opera School, meaning he’s had lots of experience with rough-hewn, unforgiving instructors of young students; so maybe that’s where this surprising-looking spin on Miyagi is coming from.

Oh, and just to get started early on what will easily be the most annoying (yet true) bit of fanboy-bitching of the year right off the bat: WHY is it still called “The Karate Kid” when it no longer has any connection to Japan and they clearly AREN’T using Karate? (I imagine that the filmmakers are smart enough to know this but don’t want to lose the title, and furthermore I’d bet that there’ll be a running gag about it on the lines of The Kid calling it “Karate” and having to be corrected.)

8 thoughts on “Karate (?) Kid

  1. kenpai says:

    As much as I love japan Chinese martial arts blow karate (aka Kuhraahtee) away. How many chinese martial arts movie stars do we know in America? Bruce, Jet, Jackie.
    How many Japanese?


  2. soldierhawk says:

    Perfectly well said, Kenpai, and I couldn't agree more. There's something very special about the Chinese arts (and especially weapons.)

    Now, I have been more skeptical about the idea of this movie than you could possibly imagine. This is the first time I've seen the trailer, though, and…um…is it wrong that it looks kind of…completely awesome to me? Part of it is just that I love Jackie Chan (third only to Bruce and Jet in my martial arts pantheon), but the whole thing…it just looks like it might WORK. Making the setting so different might really breathe some new life into this story.

    And frankly, I am, against all odds, glad they kept the Karate Kid title. I mean think about it: if they had made this movie and called it something else, everyone would have accused it of being a KK ripoff. Now, its just a remake (or re-imagining, if you like.)

    Holy crap I am looking forward to and might actually enjoy this movie. I NEVER would have called that.


  3. Anonymous says:

    This movie is just wrong in so many degrees it's not even funny…>< Yes, good question, why is this movie called “The Karate Kid” when it takes place in China? How much you bet it's going to be a running joke in the movie where Jaden Smiths' character early in the movie expresses his joy of learning Karate (mistaking Kung Fu for Karate), Jackie facepalms then turns it into a running joke calling Jaden “The Karate Kid.” >>

    Anyways, sometime after release I might Youtube the training montage that looks to be the only good thing in this film…and that's about it.


  4. underthepale says:

    Why? For the exact same reason Storm Shadow, a Japanese man in GI Joe canon, was played by a Korean actor:

    Because to Hollywood, “Asian A = Asian B = Asian C = Asian D,” apparently.

    (Now, mind, their Storm Shadow KILLED in that performance, but it's still the principle of the thing…)


  5. Anonymous says:

    Huh. I admit, it looks a LOT better than a modern remake of a cornball-charming 80's schlockfest really deserves to be. Smith looks enjoyable enough, and I agree with Bob: Chan looks FANTASTIC. Compare him in this to, say, “The Spy Next Door”…it's light and day, and earns the film my respect because it knows how to make the most of a star like Chan. Of course, it could still very easily suck, but I'm actually rather hopeful about it now.


  6. Kenpai says:

    I really dont mind if they use a korean for a japanese or a nigerian for a south african, a swede for a norwegian, etc.
    As long as they dont sound funny and can act. Memoirs of a -Geisha was full of chinese people. Out of the 10 main characters, 5 japanese, 4 chinese, 1 korean. Not like anyone can tell the difference, even the East asians themselves.


  7. That Dude in the Shades says:

    I'm Interested to see how this turns out. Having Mommy and Daddy Smith as producers is some hope. though, after looking at the credits of both the Director and the Writer on IMDB, i'm skeptical as well. Myabe i'm wrong, we'll have to see.


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