The Karate Kid (PG)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Jul 27 2010This remake of the 1984 weedy-kid-makes-good parable is a fascinating example of how fine the line is between success and failure in films. The story is still great, and in shifting the action to urban China, director Harald Zwart and his writers have refreshed an old set-up. The cast are solid – Jackie Chan makes for an oddly vulnerable Miyagi (now Mr Han) – and the script, though overlong, moves at a crackling pace.
But the makers have made one giant misstep, and it sinks the film: in reducing their hero from streetwise teen Daniel-san to gobby 12-year-old Dre (Jaden Smith), they’ve completely altered the tone of the piece, changing it from a goofy, uplifting coming-of-age drama into a distressing, queasy tale of bullying and retribution. Everything about Dre feels written for an older actor – his tense relationship with his mum, his awkward courtship of a local girl, and the final battle, in which the sight of crowds cheering a battered pre-teen into bone-crunching combat just feels jaw-droppingly inappropriate. Come back, Ralph Macchio. All – even ‘Karate Kid 3’ – is forgiven.
Author: Tom Huddleston