Top 20 favourite movies of all time (#16)
#16: The Karate Kid (2010)
It’s very rare that people would in all honesty consider the remake to be better than the original. Over the many decades of film history, we’ve seen people create beautiful masterpieces of film-making that you would never be able to re-do or modernize, yet there have been a few cracks in that impenetrable wall that showcase that you can make a remake and make it in a way that stands on its own.
There are two on my list that I’ve chosen for this subject alone, the first being the Karate Kid remake.
I think what worked more when it came to this version rather than the 1984 version was the chemistry established between Dre and Mr. Han, Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, respectively. I felt a stronger bond between the two because Mr. Han took the time to bring Dre into this whole other culture and the elegant power and philosophy of Kung Fu that you could see made a stronger impact than the original.
I find movies fascinating when you can take your main character and put them in a situation where they’re completely foreign and their struggle to immerse themselves into the culture to the best of their ability establishes a good level of conflict for the character and gives them a chance to grow and mature as the movie progresses. It’s not very often that this plot device works as it has been shoved down our throats with Avatar, Dances with Wolves, Ferngully, etc., because there’s not really enough there to evoke pathos for the main protagonist, you don’t see them struggle enough that they truly feel as though they’re alone in this almost alien world and they take you along for the ride.
I also love movies that shoot on location and we get to see the beauty of China, you get a glimpse into their world. You also get to see the Great Wall and Dre training with Mr. Han, using the natural environment as their training grounds.
I think its no great secret that I find Kung Fu bears an unprecedented beauty in its movements and seeing masters in battle without the need to use weapons and that they themselves become a living weapon really illustrates that. That anyone can learn not just the techniques but the whole philosophy of Kung Fu is something so many people overlook.
I was also astounded at how well Jackie Chan can act in this movie, his role was more serious than what you’d expect of him in other light-hearted roles or it bears somewhat of a comedic overtone. Yet with this role he plays it more serious, you feel more from his performance than you would in any of his other movies and I think the movie’s strongest point comes from this performance.
I felt more of the overcoming adversity theme in the remake rather than the original because Dre is a kid struggling to deal with a different country and the bullies who torment him every day, his inability to fight back because these kids learned Kung Fu, and fearing for his own safety makes you want to cheer him on and hope that he’ll succeed.
I’ll also address the question of why this wasn’t called the “Kung-fu Kid” instead since there’s no Karate involved. Because its a remake, the title brings you back to the movie you remembered watching from the 80s, and somehow Kung-fu Kid doesn’t quite sound as good a title as Karate Kid, but that’s a small nitpick on my part, lol.
The choreography in this movie is also really, really awesome, lol, there’s no other way I can describe it.
I’ve run out of things to close this with so yeah, liked the remake more than the original.