Horror of horrors, Jaden Smith got top billing, ahead of Jackie Chan! Considering the movie is produced by the 12-year-old actor and rap artiste's parents, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, it is to be expected. However, it is difficult for us to accept Jackie Chan, who has given us so many hours of undiluted fun, taking second place. Time and tide definitely waits for no one. Sigh.
A remake of the 1984 film, The Karate Kid is more kung fu rather than karate as 12-year-old Dre Parker (Smith) learns kung fu to teach the school bully a lesson. Dre moves from Detroit to Beijing and falls for his pretty school mate much to the anger of the school bully, Cheng.
After being repeatedly beaten by Cheng, Dre enlists the help of the maintenance man Mr. Han (Chan), who teaches him true kung fu in rather unconventional ways. Jackie Chan has one of his trademark scenes where he reveals that at 56 he still has the mojo for acrobatic stunts, a little help from CGI not withstanding.
Once you make your peace with the fact that The Karate Kid is a star vehicle for Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan is part of the supporting cast, the film is watchable as it goes through its predictable tropes of underdog, eccentric but wise master, the impetuous student, the fair maiden and the all-round bad guy meeting his comeuppance in a satisfyingly-important tournament.
Money has been poured like water on the screen for this lavish production. The Forbidden City and the Great Wall make the necessary picturesque backdrops for the boy's rites of passage.
The Karate Kid is fair enough option for an evening's entertainment.
The Karate Kid
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Director: Harold Zwart
Storyline: Dre Parker moves from Detroit to Beijing, learns kung fu from the maintenance man and defeats the school bully
Bottomline: An engaging star vehicle