This week four stills emerged from the set of The Karate Kid remake, which stars 11-year-old Jaden Smith in the titular role and Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, a reworked version of ol’ wax on wax off himself – Mr. Miyagi. Will Smith is executive producer, which may give intelligent readers a clue as to how Jaden, his son, snared the role. Here are the pics:
Fans of the 1984 original have good reasons to be concerned. Here are four.
Reason to worry #1: early reports suggest Jaden Smith’s character, Dre (his name was Daniel in the original) learns kung fu – not karate. This was the reason behind the film’s name change earlier this year to The Kung Fu Kid. In subsequent months the title reverted back to the original, presumably in lieu of marketing presence and brand familiarity.
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Reason to worry #2: the director is Harald Zwart, whose previous movie was Pink Panther 2. ‘Nuf said.
Reason to worry #3: the remake is based in Bejing. That’s not in itself a bad thing but it does represent another departure from the original, which was based in LA. Also, for what it’s worth, Mr. Miyagi was Japanese, not Chinese.
Reason to worry #4: Jackie Chan is involved. Chan’s recent English language movies don’t exactly inspire confidence: Rush Hour 3, Around the World in 80 Days, The Medallion, Shanghai Knights, The Tuxedo, Rush Hour 2, Shanghai Noon, the list goes on. For a long time Chan has goofed his way through English speaking movies, bouncing around like a jovial half-crazed caricature of himself.
In lieu of the many changes to the original – i.e. the protagonist is much younger (in the orig he was a high school student), the two lead characters have different names/histories and the setting has changed – the new Karate Kid (expected to hit cinemas in the U.S. next June) seems more like a rip-off than a remake, though admittedly the difference between the two is often negligible. It marks yet another transparent attempt to cash in on a popular franchise long relegated to the dusty confines of nostalgia. Ah well. I doubt anybody’s going to be losing much sleep over this one, but those who favourably recall the original movie will certainly be curious. Morbidly curious, but curious nonetheless.
Now, to rekindle your memories of Mr. Miyagi’s infinite soul-enlightening wisdom, here is Daniel’s first and ne’er forgotten lesson.