Completely Uniformed Impressions on Karate Kid Movie Remake

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/universalplayer/sharedPlayer.swfI first heard there was a Karate Kid remake yesterday on Twitter. I had flashbacks of watching the Karate Kid movies… yes, even The Next Karate Kid (I’m not proud of it). I remember trying to do the crane and wanting to have awesome movies just like Ralph Macchio’s character… And don’t even get me started on Mr. Miyagi!

Anyway, I was holding out some hope for a pretty cool remake, even if it would probably be a complete ripoff of the originals. Who doesn’t like karate movies? Especially with Jackie Chan! I digress… I watched the trailer this morning, and I’m not sure what to make of the movie. All I can say is that I don’t have a good feeling about it. I was bothered at the ages of the kids in the movie. The movie isn’t about high school angst and the plight of the teenage underdog winning over the jock. It’s about upper elementary kids… the themes from the original movies are there, though… adolescent love interest, beating each other up, etc. The major exception is that it’s happening with 11 and 12-year olds in the movie.

Now, I’m not one to be overly alarmist about things, but I just don’t have a good feeling about this movie based on this trailer. The movie isn’t coming out until June 2010 so there could be a lot of changes done to the movie… I hope so. Based on the feel of the trailer and the scenes that were shown, I have a hard time trying to find something good to say. Do we really want to portray kids playing out semi-adult themes? There’s gotta be a line somewhere, and it seems like Sony is playing a little too freely with that line. Like I said, though, things can change in 6 months. I could be completely misreading the trailer (I haven’t read or seen anything else about the movie). I sure hope, though, that this new Karate Kid movie doesn’t turn out how I think it is going to.

What are your thoughts? What have you seen/read about the movie? Am I being overly critical?


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10 thoughts on “Completely Uniformed Impressions on Karate Kid Movie Remake

  1. jonathan says:

    Sweep the Leg, Johnny!

  2. Daniel says:

    Oooh! Was it my tweet that informed you? Was it my tweet? (I dun't know why, but that would make me feel very good about myself.)

    I've set out to think of this flick not really as a Karate Kid movie, but as a karate movie with the Karate Kid name on it. So yup, that makes me feel pretty great about it. I see your point about the semi-older themes drifting their way down to younger ages – and I suspect it might come off as a bit goofy and out of place when it comes to your antagonist being 11-years-old – but I suppose we'll see how it goes.

    In the meantime: Wax on! Wax off!

  3. @joshaidan says:

    What bothers me is that I thought Karate was from Okinawa? Well, I do know that Mr. Miyagi's ancestor brought Karate over from China when he got lost during a storm on a fishing boat, but then it was called Te (hand), and it wasn't until later when he called it Karate (empty hand). I think I watched those movies too many times πŸ™‚

    Brian.

  4. Daniel says:

    You should wander over to AICN and read the comments there about the "Karate is from Japan, Kung Fu is from China" misnomer. The level of investment in that minute difference, well boy…

    Every once in awhile I pull out the trailer and watch it again – and I'm torn. On the one hand, maybe it's me but I find it a spectacularly entertaining trailer. Despite the derision and skepticism, I can really see this remake coming out as one solid film. The potential is there, anyway.

    That said, you are right – there is the age thing, and its a point of minor contention. I do think the "young love, and fighting off bullies" themes are very much a part of that age group's entertainment/material culture now (and arguably have been for a long time), so I don't see this film as necessarily seeming that out of place. Really, this isn't all that much different from what you might find on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon (Hannah, Lizzie, the Naked Brothers Band – they all started into these love/bully/social status themes pretty young).

    Sure, I'm very skeptical that these themes in the entertainment/material culture are really very reflective of (most*) children's actual lives – but what degree of honesty is really necessary here? Can't an argument be made that kids know it's just entertainment? Or is there some justification in saying that it sets up somewhat encumbering social expectations for children to become engaged in those themes before they're really emotionally and developmentally ready?

    * I say most because I also have a sense that the level of reflexivity involved is very geographically as well as socio-economically bound; for example, the 10-12 year old kids at the Adventure Playground I'm doing my research at seem very wrapped up in these themes in their own personal lives, way past their culture. But they also swear like bloody sailors and are involved in a lot of other things, too, so yeah, that might not be a good baseline. You know what we need, Henry? Studies! Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies!

    • Henry Zonio says:

      Wow! Thanks for the thoughts, Daniel. I just want to clarify that my concerns aren't that this movie isn't reflective of some children's culture. In fact, it's probably reflective of more than I'd like to admit (yes, on some points I voluntarily keep my head in the sand whether good or bad… I live in an ideal world in my head πŸ™‚ ). Just because it is reflective of culture, though, does not mean it needs to be made into a movie. There just seems to be a rawness/edginess to this movie that is definitely outside of Disney and Nick. Again, I haven't read much on the movie… only seen the trailer. How far, really, do we want to push the boundaries? Again, maybe I am being over reactive.

      As for the studies… let's do it, Daniel! πŸ™‚

  5. Daniel says:

    Hey, good news, folks! The whole Karate/Kung Fu thing about the movie has been cleared up! Columbia Pictures has their official synopsis of the story up on Apple's trailer page:

    "In Columbia Pictures’ The Karate Kid, 12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) could’ve been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother’s (Taraji P. Henson) latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying – and the feeling is mutual – but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre’s feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts “the karate kid” on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life."

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