20
Jun
10

The Karate Kid, err.. The Kung Fu Kid. How To Enjoy A Movie Remake.

The Karate Kid, err.. The Kung Fu Kid. How To Enjoy A Movie Remake.

As my year long Spartan Phoenix Movie Marathon Man Blog experiment continues I have to remind myself of all of the topics swirling around in my dome that I want to share with you all. One of those is the movie remake or TV / book movie adaptation tradition that has exploded in the past ten years. I thought I would touch on this subject with the recent movie remakes hitting the big screen. Like The A-Team movie release and now The Karate Kid (2010) remake, what a perfect time to give you my take! 

When I saw the first trailer for the remake of the Karate Kid, I got a little excited about the idea of how this reinvention would go. I was a little skeptical too. My fondness for the original The Karate Kid (1984) sits in a very special place in my heart. I knew that I would have to keep my skepticism at arms length. When I saw the first Karate Kid in the theater I was 13 years old. I went with a group of friends to a small 2-screen theater in my hometown of Santa Barbara, CA. I don’t remember all of the friends I was with, but I remember having a crush on one of the girls and being afraid to do anything about it. This was the perfect movie to see at the perfect age. Who didn’t want to be Daniel Larusso played by Ralph Macchio and kick some bully butt? As I’ve grown up I’ve always had a fondness for this original including the memorable cast like Pat Morita as Miyagi and Elisabeth Shue as Daniel’s girlfriend and one of my favorite teenage on-screen crushes. And lets not forget one of my favorite all time great onscreen villains Johnny Lawrence played by the iconic bully actor William Zabka who can be seen recently in Hot Tub Time Machine. This original Karate Kid is rooted in everyone’s mind and hearts as a classic that should not be touched fixed or re-done.

            One a personal note I’ll give a good example of this. I listen to a lot of AM sports radio. I like sports and enjoy the programs; sports analysts’ takes and score updates. I also enjoy the off the field drama that follows many of the sport super stars. I admit it, I’m a celebrity gossip and pop culture junkie as well. Many of the sports talk show hosts, (many my own age) had been slamming The Karate Kid (2010) remake staring Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s son Jaden Smith before the movie came out. They were going as far as asking listeners to boycott this movie. Although I understand their passion for the original, I thought this course of action was unfair. This makes great radio cause it “stirs the pot”, but I feel my take wasn’t being heard or shared by anyone. I feel that most movie critics and some of these radio and TV personalities have become jaded and have forgot how to enjoy movies. I hope my insight my change or open few minds.

Let me hit you with some knowledge. Here is how you “try” to enjoy a movie remake. This advice can also be adopted to “try” to enjoy TV to movie and book to movie adaptations. First off, let the original go and let it stand on its own, don’t walk into the new version thinking its going to be the same. Treat the new one right off as a different monster of sort. Although there will be the obvious similarities from the original movie, TV show or book, look to enjoy the new “angle” that the new version may bring to the screen. Enjoy its as you are seeing the re-imagination from someone else’s fondness of the original idea, not as a second-generation copy. Yes the movies are about money too. But don’t dwell that; enjoy the entertainment aspect of it. Enjoy the new adaptation for what it is and what it has to offer. Let it stand on its own, don’t compare it to anything going into the theater and taking your seat. My best example is trying to compare the Harry Potter books to the movies, DON’T DO THIS! There is no way to successfully transfer what is exactly on the page to the movie screen. Treat the Harry Potter books and movies as two separate entertainment entities. Don’t expect the books to be an exact interpretation of the movies. Enjoy the movies or remakes for what they are, a movie to enjoy and escape away with.

Thursday June 17th, 2010

            OK, now that I have counseled your bitter and jaded minds let’s get on to my take of the remake. Today I scheduled a movie marathon that would start at 10am at my favorite AMC Theater. I love early start times, because this means I can get more movies in on a marathon day or if I get cabin fever after a few movies I can cut out late afternoon to get on with the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure how many movies I would do today but I had at least three movies I wanted to see today.

            The first movie I saw was the one the blog entry is centered on, the remake or re – imagination of The Karate Kid (2010) starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson. I really enjoyed this remake. I believe it stands on its own. Here are four things that the remake has to offer that the original doesn’t. 

#1: Its filmed in China. Jaden Smith’s character moves to China with his mother played by Taraji P. Henson. When they get there they move into the city. You get a great incite to the in town Chinese culture. However when the story moves along you are treated to the culture outside the Chinese countryside, such as The Great Wall, The Forbidden City and the beautiful mountainsides that many call home.

#2: Jackie Chan. Mr. Chan was perfectly cast as the martial arts mentor roll. We know he knows his Kung Fu. That’s what he’s famous for. But what caught me by surprise were his acting chops. He showed some range when he has to explain to Jaden Smith’s character what happened to his family. I actually got a little water in my eye during this scene.

#3: The Girlfriend. In the original film, The Karate Kid’s girlfriend played by Elisabeth Shue didn’t have much of a plot line. She was a cheerleader and was once involved with the main bully, but that’s it. In this remake the girlfriend has an interesting side story that helps the new Karate Kid learn a lesson and learn some Chinese culture and honor at the same time.

#4: The signature kick. At the end of the original Karate Kid, he uses a “signature karate kick” to win the big match. You see him practicing this kick throughout some of the training montages prior to the end of the original movie. In the new Karate Kid, you don’t know what the match winning strike will be. It’s kept as a surprise that was really cool to finally see. However you are given a small clue to the surprise move earlier in the film.

The running time of this film is about 2hrs 20 min. It may seem long but I must say the movie was well paced and didn’t lag or drag out at all. Jaden Smith was good as his role as the Karate Kid. You can tell he took the role seriously and trained for it as well. His acting chops weren’t bad and he’s very likeable. His character is about 12 years old, which is younger than the original Karate Kid where Daniel Larusso was a senior in high school. I thought a younger Karate Kid worked. When Jaden Smith’s character Dre, was being bullied, he got his butt kicked pretty good. Jackie Chan’s character Mr. Han was fun to watch as he trained him in the ways of King Fu for the big match.

Now the new Karate Kid remake had many similarities from the original. But the new one has enough new things to offer and it’s a real pleasure to watch. I only had one main issue or problem with this movie remake. The movie should be called The Kung Fu Kid, not The Karate Kid. The trailers even show Chan’s character saying he is going to teach him real Kung Fu, and this is what is said in the movie itself. The international title for the Karate Kid remake is called The Kung Fu Kid. I don’t know why the U.S. Title couldn’t do the same.

The second movie I saw in my marathon today was Marmaduke (2010) starring the voice talent of Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez, Kiefer Sutherland, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Stacy Ferguson (Fergie from Black Eye Peas). I really loved the Marmaduke cartoons in the funny pages when I was a kid. The movie was targeted towards kids as a family film. The talking dogs and cats were fun due to the fact it was interesting to see what famous actors were lending their voices to the characters. Some of the scenes were CG animals. But most of the animals were real but had the digital mouth movement treatment when they talked. The movie was cute and funny at times. I didn’t fall asleep like I did during a family film Furry Vengeance (2010), which I thought, failed.

      The third film I saw was Robin Hood (2010). I wanted to see this film again cause I really enjoyed the cast and sets and overall look of the film. I was planning to see a fourth film like maybe the A-Team, but I was ready to leave the theater. I wanted to get back home and work on a few projects. I want to start riding my bike again. Time to oil that baby up and get it back on the road.

I’ll be back my movie peeps! Stay tuned and enjoy your movies, don’t be so bitter. We don’t need anymore movie snobs, we’ve got enough. 

Your movie man, Spartan Phoenix

Total movies seen in the theater to date since February 1st 2010:  73

  • February           2010: Movies Seen: 12
  • March              2010: Movies Seen: 14
  • April                 2010: Movies Seen: 16
  • May                  2010: Movies Seen: 18
  • June                 2010: Movies Seen: 13
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