The Karate Kid

 Part of me wonders if Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith plan on using their children to rebound their careers that seem to be on standby. Jaden Smith first appeared alongside his father in The Pursuit of Happyness then in the action film failure The Day the Earth Stood still. His parents serve as producers here, and The Karate Kid was one of the most successful box office films of the summer. There have been numerous versions of The Karate Kid over the past two decades, one even starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank. So it isn’t surprising that yet another updated version is added to the pile. What’s particularly interesting is the surprising lack of Kung-Fu in the film, this is a film about teaching the younger audience respect not violence.

 Twelve year old Dre (Smith) leaves his life and friends in the eastern United States for China. His mother (Henson) will be starting a job there and Dre must learn a new language and come to understand he will be an outcast in a foreign land. Soft spoken and almost shy, Dre is instantly picked on and teased, after his first encounter with kung-fu Chinese kids, he is eager to learn how to protect himself. It turns out his building maintenance man is also a kung fu teacher. Mr. Han (Chan) takes pity upon the boy and begins to teach him discipline before anything else.

 As the widowed mother and her impressionable son make their way to China with John Mayer’s song “Say” playing The Karate Kid looks like it will be an enjoyable film for both younger and mature audiences. While the script bounces around trying to reclaim its more interesting beginning, it suffers being drawn out with good intentions. Smith is very fun to watch, he has the attitude of his mother and the goofiness of his father, although at times I wish he was less like daddy with the lame jokes. However, Jaden Smith is a true talent and certainly shows mental and physical promise in this role.

 I will admit to not being a fan or have any interest in Jackie Chan, mostly due to his terrible career choices. However the film does understand just how much of him to use and he provides a good balance to Smith. At the end of the film, the only reason for its existence is to incorporate a new generation of fans into a franchise that likely should have been forgotten. I felt Henson (Benjamin Button) was wasted, when she could have been one of the film’s greater aspects. The filming locations were great and the right selection of music was almost always used. I hope they don’t deteriorate what they have accomplished here by making part two.

 Final Thought – Without Smith this movie has nothing to offer.

Grade C+

By: Dustin Chase W.

Editor: Jennifer Gih