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***** A must watch
**** Worth seeing
*** If you must watch a movie and there is nothing else out there
** Don’t bother
* It’s so bad its almost good... not... These are films I walked out on, or just fell asleep
(K: stars) Rating by my children. As they are easy to please, would typically be higher than mine...

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The Karate Kid (2010 version) **

This film should have been released in the USA under the more appropriate name The Kung Fu Kid (which apparently is what it was released under in Asia). Such a name would still have hinted as to the inspiration for this film, without antagonizing the fans of the original and much better movie. Yet, it seems the producers (or whomever was in charge of this poor name choice) had no confidence in the audience’s intelligence for making the connection to the original. This lack of confidence is further demonstrated throughout the film, where more often than not, the characters have a need (by no choice of their own i.e. by force of the script) to verbalize the obvious morals and lessons of life…
Here is what I liked about the movie: the first 40 minutes are good. Though inspired by the original, it has enough merit of its own to make it engaging, funny and pleasing. The school bullying scenes hits the nail on the head in terms of its depiction. But from that point on - when the Han character takes upon himself to train the Dre character, its downhill, with the exception of the choreography of the fighting scenes at the end.
The acting is quite decent but the direction is lacking. Mr. Han’s character is way too somber. Here it would have been wise to use Jackie Chan’s wonderful and well-tuned sense of humor. But instead, the film complicates its characters unnecessarily. The mother’s character is over-played, and though Jaden Smith proves the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, his character is inconsistent and not as empathetic as it could have been. The ending is a complete corny kitsch which left me partially nauseated...
All in all, the film is over-layered. Part of the charm of the original film was its simplicity and the reliance on the charm and warmth of its characters. But in this remake, the filmmakers felt a need to add “depth” which does not only take away from the charm, it also makes it, at a140 minutes, way too long. I was also wondering, throughout the film, how much did the Chinese government pay the film producers to present China in such a positive light – modern, progressive, open, and all in all a swell place to live at… Not that I do not believe some parts of China are like that – I know for a fact it is. But this is doing injustice for all the evils China still very much contain.

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