Film: 'The Karate Kid'; Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji Henson, Rongguang Yu Rating: *** and 1/2
Cinema and the underdog have made a delightful couple. Cinema has ensured that the underdog mostly wins, while the underdog stories have usually ensured a good box office run.
In 'The Karate Kid', we witness the rebirth of the ultimate American teenage underdog story.
Popular Detroit kid Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) finds himself in China after his mother's transfer. From day one he gets bullied and beaten by a kung-fu kid Li, till the maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) comes to his rescue, menacing his opponents without even raising a punch.
When Han and Dre go to Li's Kung Fu class to tell the kids to lay off him, Li's instructor threatens them. Han finds a way out by telling him that Dre will fight his students, but in the open Kung Fu tournament.
Han now trains Dre, but frustrates him. It's only when Han demonstrates that kung-fu lies in everything that he begins to understand. As expected, the underdog wins, but not after getting over insurmountable odds on the way.
Director Harald Zward does not fail the popular original. He takes efforts in painting his characters with different shades of life and pain. What is, however, most interesting is the film's politics.
Throughout history Hollywood has excelled in bashing up America's enemy nations in cinema - Germany during the world wars and Russia during the Cold War. Right now, if there's any nation that is a threat, it is China.
'The Karate Kid' plays with America's anti-China sentiment by having an average black kid go to the heart of the China, and beat them in their own game. The kid in the original film was white. Here it is a black kid, symbolising the presidency of Barack Obama, who is determined to 'kick ass' of China.
Papa (Will) Smith and Mama (Jada Pinkett) Smith (producers of the film) have found their son's career the perfect 'silver-platter' start, unlike their own acting careers which is a true underdog story.
Sadly, you'll not see much of Chan's wonderful fight choreography that has made even the worst films enjoyable. Make no mistakes, it is a film for and of Jaden Smith, and so far in his three films, he has definitely not disappointed audiences.