This film is a re-make of the original 1984 The Karate Kid, with a few differences. Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) is living an okay life in Detroit, Michigan until his mother, Sherry Parker (Taraji P. Henson) has a job transfer to Beijing, China. It’s hard enough being a new student at a different school, let alone a new school in another country. Dre slowly gets settled in by trying to accept the fact that China is his new home. Things turn for the better when he eyes Meiying (Han Wen Wen), a lovable violinist determined to bring honor to her family by being accepted to the Beijing Music School. Dre approaches her and shows off his American flirtatious moves until he’s interrupted by the school bully, Zhuang (Zhao Yi). From that moment on, Dre is terrified of Zhuang because of his constant physical attacks towards him. Mr. Han, (Jackie Chan), the local handyman, one day notices Dre gang beating and decides to put a stop to it. Dre is impressed watching Mr. Han fight the bullies without hitting them and wants to learn his skills. Mr. Han is not a fighter and would rather create peace with Zhuang and his martial arts master. The Master declines and wants to fight, Mr. Han has no choice but to enter Dre into the karate tournament. Dre and Mr. Han practice night and day in preparation. Overtime, Dre finally has someone in China to call a true friend. Mr. Han has found someone who can help him cope with the death of his son and wife. Tournament day is here, can Dre shake off his fear and become the new champion or will Zhuang teach him a lesson with the ultimate beating?
Seeing the preview, I thought the film will probably not be good because the need of trying to hard to be better than the original. Happy to say, I was wrong. Smith’s character reminds me of little boys when I was growing up acting the same way. His eagerness to impress a girl he likes by always showing off or trying to act like he knows everything when there’s still more to learn. I enjoyed the connection between Parker and Mr. Han. It wasn’t just teaching Kung Fu and going home, Mr. Han needed someone to help him see life again and Parker needed a father figure friend to encourage his ambitions. The scenes were quite detailed from showing China’s culture in the background with the temples and everyday living of regular outdoor activities everyone in town participates in. Watching this movie made me free as though I was there in China, too. The only part I didn’t like was the unnecessary background music, such as when Parker and Meiying are just standing there looking away, there was child romance music. Major distraction when I’m trying to stay connected to the film. The original was a classic but I enjoyed this movie more. Great job Smith family!