When it comes to remakes and sequels, I can't help but be slightly sceptical. After all, a classic is called a classic for a reason. So far 2010 seems to be the year of the remake, and they are unfortunately unavoidable. We've already had a rehashing of kids' adventure tale 'Alice in Wonderland', the billionth version of 'Robin Hood' and the just-released cult phenomenon that is 'The A-Team'. But probably one of the most anticipated remakes of this year, bringing the 80s back with a bang, is 'The Karate Kid'.
Dre Parker (Smith) had it all in Detroit - friends, basketball and popularity. However, when his mom (Henson) decides on a big career move, the youngster ends up in China. After taking a shine to classmate Mei Ying (Han), class bully Cheng (Wang) takes an instant dislike to Dre, who soon learns why China is called the land of Kung Fu. In a desperate bid for help, Dre turns to maintenance man Mr Han (Chan). Proving to be the right choice, Mr Han teaches Dre that Kung Fu is not all about punches and pain, but focus and maturity.
Son to one of Hollywood's heavyweights, Will Smith, loveable rogue Jaden Smith makes his lead debut as Dre in the famed role of The Karate Kid. Although he is slightly younger than the character in the original, he is perfect as the tough but strong Kung Fu warrior, making his action scenes believable with his cheeky-yet-focused attitude. Having come a long way from his role in 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' and emerging from the cute child in 'The Pursuit of Happiness', Smith manages to bring a warmth to the role.
Of course any film that involves Kung Fu would not be complete without an appearance from martial arts great Jackie Chan. Perhaps one of the most exciting sequences in the movie is when Han releases his talents on the group of bullies, outfighting them all. It's disappointing, however, that Chan's version of Mr Miyagi doesn't appear until 20 or so minutes into the story - time wasted on introducing characters that have no real bearing on the film.
So what makes this old movie new again? With no mention of karate, perhaps the title should have been changed to 'The Kung Fu Kid'. Moving the action to China is a stroke of genius as the world of Kung Fu is brought to life in its original environment, a big change from the original's setting of sunny California.
However, remaking such a well-respected film like 'The Karate Kid' is a huge risk and some of the changes to the original script are questionable. "Wax on, wax off" has become "Jacket on, jacket off"; somehow I think the old line will remain the more famous of the two. The romance that develops between Dre and Mei Ying is also somewhat awkward for such young actors to convey. That said, the chemistry between Chan and Smith carries the film and keeps the inspiring story alive.
Perhaps not as breathtaking and durable as the 1984 classic, but it has its moments.