Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Movie Review: The Karate Kid

I wasn't enthused about seeing "The Karate Kid". See, I'm an old man who saw the original. I liked it when I was little. Later; not so much. This version didn't look bad. Probably better than the original. But the interest just wasn't there.

I did like the lessons that even the trailers conveyed. And the target audience. The original had a middle class white kid getting in fights with other white kids. It was 1984, why not? This one starts with a black kid and his single mother leaving Detroit chasing a job. Right there you get a lesson. Fuck Detroit! That and if you're willing to work and willing to go where the jobs are you can get and keep a job.

The next lesson is for parents. Your kids aren't going to tell you what's going on at school. You may not remember, but you are the enemy. So are the teachers. So are the bullies. Nothing good seems likely to come out of your parents talking to your teachers; or to the bully's parents. They may not be able to explain what they think will happen, but it can't be good. I'll tell you what they think will happen. The bully will get yelled at, possibly punished, and take revenge on the kid.

Lesson 3: Not all creepy old men who live alone are serial child rapists. The kids who spend time at my place are off the street and get a better education than they do at DC schools. The kid in this movie learns Kung-Fu. Even so, you want to get to know the creepy guy your kid hangs out with.

By setting the movie in China it casts the villain not as white bullies, but as Chinese bullies. By giving the main character a Chinese girlfriend and teacher and allowing him to see the city and some of the country it takes the "Chinese" out of "Chinese bullies". The viewer gets some of the culture and learn about the people instead of viewing them as a collective enemy.

Still, seeing a field of small children learning to fight in unison is a bit creepy. Since war doesn't involve that kind of fighting it's just drilling uniformity and ability to take orders.

I'm remembering how kids behaved after seeing the first movie. They'd slap their hands together and rub them really fast and put them on someone as if it were some healing trick. If you take a kid to see this movie be sure to explain to them that they should not set their hands or their friends bellies on fire.

The best lesson would be the one that's not on screen. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were producers on this movie. Rather than thinking their kid was cast because they're producers I'd say they were producers because their kid was in the movie. Sure, they got to be acting coaches for their kid, but they also got to make sure Jaden Smith's education didn't suffer and that he didn't become a "child actor". He's not gonna end up the way Danny Bonaduce or Britney Spears or suffer what Drew Barrymore had to recover from. That's good parenting. Sure, it's easier to do that when you're millionaires. IMDB shows Will taking a break of a few years from his own acting career. You and I couldn't do that. But, it shows his priorities and how he's making sure his kid doesn't get screwed up.

I won't be getting this on DVD, but it's a damn good movie, well written, well thought out, and well performed.

1 comment:

GreenCanary said...

Wow. Did we see the same movie? The lessons I got from the new Karate Kid were: 1) Kung Fu is awesome; 2) Jackie Chan is awesome; and 3) Jaden Smith is awesome, but 4) Regal Cinemas' popcorn is not.