In The Karate Kid, Jaden Smith plays Dre Parker, an aimless tween coerced by fate – and a weak economy – to relocate with his mother to China where, bullied by the local toughs, he hooks up with kindly janitor cum martial arts master Mr Han (Jackie Chan), who teaches him the art of kicking arse.
While not a straight-ahead remake, comparisons with the warmly remembered original are inevitable.
In the ’84 version, Ralph Macchio was hardly a kid and the story suffered plausibility gaps. The revamp tinkers with the formula just enough for it to all make sense, and Smith is more athletic and natural in the role, enjoying a surprisingly supple chemistry with Chan.
It’s a more polished film, no question, but ’80s nostalgists may hanker for more of the original’s goofy, scrappy charm.
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