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The Karate Kid (2020) Movie Review
Review of The Karate Kid (2020) starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. This remake/rewrite of the classic American kung fu movie tells the story of a kid from Detroit who needs to learn kung fu for self defense.
Twelve year old skateboard kid Dre (Jaden Smith) grew up in Detroit until he moved to China with his mom. He is playing basketball when some Chinese bullies come up and beat him up. His mom gets scared and decides to enroll him in self defense with an old maintenance man, Mr. Han, (Jackie Chan) who teaches him the ways of the martial arts through repetitive tasks that seem to have no bearing in the fighting world. Dre is eventually lead o face his bullies in an organized karate competition and thereby face your fears without resorting to hurting others.
Those who are fans of the old Karate Kid movie may be afraid that this film is too much of a rehashing to be withstood. True, there are the awkwardly placed homages to the old film (catching a fly with chopsticks, and the annoyingly cliche wax on/wax off for example), but much of the film is different in style, if not completely in plot. Jaden Smith does an excellent job with his kung fu moves as well as being an endearing twelve year old actor. He is the son of produces Will Smith and Jada-Pinkett Smith, but he plays his role well--he will no doubt have a future in acting.
One of the greatest things about the film is the kung fu action and scenery. The original Karate Kid was set in New Jersey. Fights happened in parking lots with lots of unattractive fences. In this film, however, the fights happen right in the center of some of the most gorgeous monuments to Chinese architecture. Another great aspect of this film is the bonding between Mr. Han and Dre. The two have a good chemistry in this film--good acting from the pair.
The fighting in this film can be a drawback in a way too, however. The film makers chose to make this fighting very intense, which seems a bit ridiculous for a film about twelve year olds. The characters in the original Karate Kid were a bit older. In this film there are crunching bones and intense looking hits. It makes one wonder how this kind of violence could get into what should be a family movie.
Some of the effects in the movie were less than impressive, especially the anti-climactic final attack, which looks unrealistic and silly. There is some pre-teen romance as well which feels inappropriate. "These kids are growing up too fast!" The film doesn't have a great pace either. The action is spaced out poorly so that after a while you will be checking your watch in annoyance. The film is two hours long too, which really is a bit much for this kind of movie.
This film has some things going for it, but at the same time it has the curse of a remake. The producers of this film tried to do everything to make it feel fresh and they managed for a good deal of it, but at the same time trying to appeal to longtime fans has made it feel half-hearted at parts. Good for the family as long as bone crunching isn't an issue, but don't expect it to completely blow you away. Reviewers give it a about a 6/10.