"The Karate Kid"

I went in to this movie unbiased; although I may have seen the first "Karate Kid" movie (1984) on TV once, I don't remember much of it, and therefore I was not comparing this film to its predecessor. The film ended up surprising me, however, and definitely in a good way.

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness") is being forced to move from Detroit to China by his mom (Taraji P. Henson, "Date Night"), who has been transferred for her job. Dre struggles to adjust to his new home, and it doesn't help that he is beat up by some bullies on his first day there. He makes a violinist friend, Meiying (newcomer Wenwen Han), but the bullies tell Dre to stay away from her. Dre finally decides that he needs to learn kung-fu so that he will be able to defend himself, and the maintenance man for his building, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan, "The Spy Next Door") agrees to teach him. Dre decides to compete in the Open Kung-Fu Tournament, where some of the best kung-fu fighters, including the bullies that had taunted him, will be fighting, and by the end of the movie, both his fighting skills and his attitude have improved.

I would say, Yes, definitely see this film. The movie clocks in at a long 2 hours and 15 minutes but it goes by so fast that you don't even realize it's so long. Jaden Smith (son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) is adorable as Dre, and a fast learner, it turns out, at kung-fu. Jackie Chan's martial arts skills are not wasted here; in one scene he defends Jaden from the bullies that are beating him up. I was surprised to learn that the movie is rated PG and not PG-13, because there are a lot of fighting scenes, but I guess that because they are classified as "martial arts fighting" it doesn't affect the rating as much. The ending is predictable but cute, and by the end the whole audience was cheering for Dre.

"The Karate Kid" opens in theaters today, June 11th.

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