Karate Kid

Saw the trailer for the Karate Kid remake for the first time today. Been thinking about it quite a bit. You may be wondering why. I wouldn’t blame you.

Well the original film came out in 1984. I was 15 and I fell pretty firmly right in the target audience of that film. I loved it. I would rent it (along with a vcr) at the local grocery store and watch it repeatedly. I wasn’t as keen on the sequels, but I thought that first film was great.

So the new film intrigues me though I must confess my expectations are that at best it can be ‘almost as good’ as the first. And really I don’t expect that. I expect it to be not all that good. Why? Well, I think Jaden Smith is too young/small for starters. And based on the clip it looks like they are going to be heavy handed with the humor on his part. I don’t care for that approach. They look to also be doing the same with some of the fan service stuff.

The next issue is that another favorite facet of the original is Pat Morita’s incredible work and the character they gave him. The death of his wife in an internment camp while he’s out fighting the war – that was incredible stuff the way they brought it in. It gave real depth to what was happening and how he responded to what was going on with Ralph Machio’s character.

What intrigues me though is how they will deal with the fact that while the events are obviously going to be similar the entire cultural context is shifted. A small, black American in China. What will Mr. Miyagi (now Mr. Han) have for a back story? On the plus side, as is obvious in the trailer, the scenery is going to be just gorgeous. The most attractive set in the first film was Mr. Miyagi’s back yard. That wont be the case here.

I have to imagine that if this thing does even modestly well, that the sequel will be Jaden Smith coming back to the states and going all Kwai Chang Caine on roughs in the hood. Which of course brings up the Karate/Kung Fu issue mentioned at the site that posted the trailer. Funny. It’s going to make some people absolutely beside themselves and that cracks me up.

I do look forward to hearing someone scream out, “Sweep the leg Li Hong!” because we certainly wont be hearing, “There is no pain in this dojo! There is no fear in this dojo!…” There is no pain in this kwoon? Doesn’t have the same ring to it. (I have no idea if the term is used that way at all – I have zero knowledge of the Chinese language. Which I’m sure I’ve made apparent but just want to acknowledge that I’m aware of it.)