Review: “The Karate Kid (2010)”

Karate Kid 2010 poster.I still remember seeing the original Karate Kid at the old drive-in theater with my parents. I was eleven years old and it was a great movie. Little did I know that all the sequels would blow or that, decades later, I would begin seeing advertisements for a remake of the Karate Kid. Shudder.

My reaction to this was probably the same as yours: outright denial. As I wept in my bed that same evening, I dared ignite a single spark of hope. Maybe the new Karate Kid won’t be that bad, I told myself.

Then I went back to thinking about porn like a real man.

My wife and I recently saw the Karate Kid remake on one of those movie channels the kids used to love so much before the Twitter and the iPod. Were my hopes for this movie as pointless as my fantasy about a four-way with the Charmed1 sisters? Or can you safely run your copy of the original Karate Kid through a shredder?

Click the button if you want to find out.

Asians have always
been a target in America.

I gotta say that the new Karate Kid never stood a real chance of being a hit. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t too awful despite Will Smith’s best efforts. At least Jackie Chan was in it, right? The thing is that the new one was a lot like the old one, so it kept reminding me of the original with every scene. I kept telling my wife, “Oh, that’s like that one part in the original, only slightly different. Now here’s what going to happen next…” They could have used this to their advantage by zigging when you think they’ll zag. Instead, it seemed like the movie changed the best parts and kept the ones that mattered least.

Daniel’s forearm
rubs dangerously
close to the
promised land.

To be fair, if the remake isn’t similar to the source material, what’s the point? I’m looking at you, I Am Legend. But hey, this is a movie review. Thinking like that will just get us in trouble.

So how about I destroy this thing in the here and now for you? Ya know, just for fun.

First, a warning: Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, stars in this film. He’s basically a mini-Will Smith in The Karate Kid. I kept visualizing Smith-senior as Jaden ran through his dad’s signature one-liners. You know, the kind of one-liners no twelve-year-old would ever think of. So if you hate Will Smith movies, this one’s already halfway down the drain for you no matter what.

If you shake
your Jaden
Smith hard
enough, all
sorts of Kung
Fu treats will
fall out!

Anyway, Jaden plays Dre – not Daniel LaRusso.  He’s the son of a single mom who’s been offered a job in China. Yes, in the original, it was California. Tough nipples. The role of The Golden State will be played by China throughout this film and that’s final. So Dre arrives in another country with no understanding of the language, the culture, and a typically American disrespect for his mom. For this, China hates him. You’ll hate him for other reasons, but I digress.

I guess China’s big on fixin’ shit up, because their building has a bevy of repairmen at its disposal. Including one dude who just happens to be a Kung Fu master. What are the odds, huh? His name is Mr. Han, and he’s the only repairman on site who speaks English. Mr. Han is played by Jackie Chan, not the withered corpse of Pat Morita. Dammit.

You know, if they’d cast Bruce Lee in that role, that would have been one helluva surprise! I mean, the man’s been dead nearly forty years. Looks like you just missed your shot to wow us, movie. Next time you need a surprise twist, just give me a call. M. Knight’s all out of ideas, so just take him off your speed dial, Hollywood. You know you want the Atheist Geek!

Jackie Chan was wasted in this film. Not on drugs, but on talent. He wasn’t funny. He wasn’t Kung Fu awesome. He was just some sad little dude with a bad case of scoliosis or something, cuz he kept walking around all hunched over. Maybe they thought it would add some real depth to his character? Guess that Chinese herbal medicine isn’t so great after all. Does that mean Kevin Trudeau can’t cure my toenail cancer with ginseng and ant farts? Shit. Now I’m all sad.

Your Jackie Chan may be
prone to bouts of delirium if
his warranty expires.

Fans of the original Karate Kid may recall the scene where Mr. Miyagi goes insane and tries to catch a fly with a set of chop sticks. Well, when Dre goes down to find Mr. Han to fix the water heater, we’re tricked into thinking the same thing will happen in this movie. But just when we think Mr. Han is going to snatch the fly out of the air with his chop sticks, he suddenly smashes the bug with a fly swatter. See, this movie really is different! Just not by very much. Still, it did get a chuckle from me and my wife. It was one of the few instances where this Karate Kid deviated from the original in a way that worked. In fact, I consider it the high point of the entire film. You can take from that whatever you want2.

Soon, we see Dre meeting a schoolgirl at the park. He tries to put the moves on her and sweet talks her all Will Smith style (don’t forget he’s only twelve here, folks) but then some big angry kid shows up and gets into an argument with her. Dre tries to butt in, then runs home after owning a serious ass whipping. Turns out that a twelve-year-old black kid from Detroit can’t fight. But he can sure take one hell of a beating. Show’em how it’s done, Dre!

You’ll marvel as
our terrified hero
runs for his life.

Dre avoids the bullies for a time. Then, seeing his chance for sweet vengeance, he dumps some stink water on them just to show what a man he is. Kinda like the scene in the original where Daniel hits Johnny with a blast of water from a hose at a Halloween party. Only this time, there weren’t any doobies involved. Damn the PC police.

The bullies soon run Dre down like a mangy dog. Turns out they’re experts in parkour as well as Kung Fu. Say what you want, but the bully in this movie is quite an achiever. Practically a Renaissance man, you know? So they end up leaping over obstacles like Spiderman until Dre can run no more. But then … here’s the surprise … Mr. Han jumps in to save him! And just like in the original, Mr. Han beats the living shit out of a bunch of twelve-year olds. Except they were all seventeen in the original and much larger than Pat Morita, so Miyagi didn’t seem like a total dick. Mr. Han in this movie … that’s another story. Still, I’ve met a lot of twelve-year olds in my time who could have really used a beat down, so it was cool by me.

Seriously. Don’t let your kids act up in public, people.

In the directors cut, Mr. Han sicks a
pack of doberman’s on the twelve
year olds after he kicks their little
asses all over the courtyard. It’s fun!

Instead of using some sort of herbal dit da jow on Dre like Miyagi did with LaRusso, Mr. Han heals Dre’s wounds with a technique known as fire cupping. Then Dre wants Han to teach him the Kung Fu. Instead, Han walks into the bully’s fighting class3 with Dre and tries to broker a peace accord between East and West. The instructor, called Mr. Li, probably has the worst haircut in all of China. He threatens to pound Mr. Han into gravy unless Dre fights his star pupil on the mat right then and there. Han tries his best not to piss himself, but we can all tell it isn’t working.

Are you ready for the plot twist, kids? Mr. Han offers to let Dre fight the other boy … in the Kung Fu tournament! WOW! ZAP! Oh, you saw the original movie just like the other 98% of America? Not surprised at all then, huh? Too bad.

There is one interesting difference here. Dre can’t speak Chinese, so he has no idea that Mr. Han is about to get him killed to save his own scoliosis riddled life. Surprise! Well, I’m sure Han will be there at his funeral. Or putting the moves on Dre’s mom in her moment of grief. I’m betting that was his plan all along.

Fill those trousers
or I’ll hit you with
this stick!

At this point, I was wondering what this movie’s equivalent of “wax on, wax off” was going to be, not to mention “sand da floor” and “paint da fence.” This was a central part of the first film. We’re supposed to be all shocked by Miyagi’s down to earth wisdom, ya know? Well, in this film, Mr. Han has Dre come over every day and learn to pick up his jacket. That’s pretty much it.

Note that, in the original, we were just as confused as Daniel was about his training the first time we saw it. Especially since Miyagi was such a smug asshole about it the whole time. He had Daniel doing all his chores for him so he could go out fishing instead of doing his real job. Remember that one time when Miyagi didn’t even bother to show up for training? He just left Daniel a note with a little picture showing him what to do and left before Daniel got there.

Hey, figure it out kid, I got fish to catch. Best of luck in your fight to the death.

He’s also a crochet
master and a nuclear

So when the revelation came that these motions were useful for self-defense, we were all “whoa” and “awesome.” But this time, we already saw it in the original film, so you know it’s coming. The only thing I was wondering was, “How the hell are they going to convince me that picking up a jacket from the floor translates into a real fighting move?” They didn’t, by the way, but oh well. Another idea from the original blown to poop and ice cream on this one. Sigh.

The movie covers all the other highlights from the original as well. Mr. Han gets drunk over the death of his wife and kid. Dre has to meet his girlfriend’s disapproving parents. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then comes the tournament. Man, I was so ready to watch Dre get his ass handed to him, but alas, it was not to be.

Say what you want, but at least that would have been a surprise! I can see my version play out something like this:

Mr. Han sighs, then turns to Dre with a heavy heart. “Sometimes, in real life, the hero just eats a knuckle sandwich and goes home, Dre. Too bad, huh? Here, I managed to gather up most of your teeth. Aw, there’s my smile! Now you owe me $14,000 for Kung Fu lessons, or I’ll beat you to death while your mom watches. Either way, I’ll be in your dad’s bed by your next birthday. Well, take care.”

Mr. Han tussles up Dre’s hair with a smile and leaves, his spine still hunched from decades of backbreaking menial labor. Only he never collects that $14,000 Dre owes him. Mr. Li – the evil kid’s instructor and John Kreese fill in – sneak attacks Mr. Han from behind and breaks his face in a single punch. Han dies without knowing that his wife merely faked her own death to escape his many drunken tirades, or that his son was about to call him that very night in a futile attempt at a reunion. Such a shame.

There is no funeral for Mr. Han because no one wants to piss away their lunch break on a janitor they barely know. Or knew. Dre ends up in traction and is finally rendered comatose due to a botched homeopathy treatment. His mom loses her job and begins selling herself for Ramen Noodles on the streets of Bejing just to survive. That’s when things get kinda bleak.

Dre’s mom can’t deal with the loss of her only child. Finally, her misery comes to an end when she falls asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand while watching Sponge Bob Square Pants. The inferno burns down her entire apartment building, which the Chinese blame on Taiwanese espionage. World War Three ensues, reducing the world to cinders in the terrible conflagration of a nuclear apocalypse. Then Dre snaps out of his coma to find himself in a world overrun with zombies and evil mutants.

Luckily, Vampire Hunter D goes wandering through China and finds Dre living in a wine barrel filled with crack. The half-vampire teaches Dre to kill monsters for a living so he can fend for himself. When Dre is cut down like a sewer rat during his first mission, D’s magical left hand turns to its owner and says, “You win, boss. Guess I owe you fifty bucks, huh?”

As Left Hand reaches for the ATM, Vampire Hunter D meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who’s just recovering from her breast enlargement surgery. They have wild, awesome sex. We’re talking back flips and shit like that, people. Finally, they get married. Their super-hot children repopulate the Earth. None of them will ever see the Star Wars prequels. The Charmed sisters make out on pay per view. Only it’s free! Santa Clause brings everyone bags of money for Easter. Jesus decides that humanity has suffered enough and won’t even bother with that whole Armageddon thing after all. Jehovah’s Witnesses lose all purpose and become atheists who bother no one. The end.

That was kinda long. Sorry about that. My visions grow darker and darker with age.

Break dance!

Anyway, if you’ve seen the original Karate Kid, then you’ve seen the rest of this one too. There is only one surprise. Instead of using the crane technique, Dre uses snake hypnosis on his enemy. Note that this is almost an improvement over the original. After all, we were told in the original Karate Kid that blows to the face were not allowed, yet Daniel literally kicks Johnny in the nose and no one minds. Winner! Unfortunately, Dre is forced to smash this kid in the face as well. Again, no one gives a shit and I believe it. Adults are like that when kids are being all silly.

Then Dre and the bullies make peace. China and the United States form an alliance that leads to the show, Firefly.

She has another tatoo
that looks like Mr. Miyagi
is squeezing her boobs
on her front side. Sweet!

Armageddon never happens. Rats and gerbils learn to love one another. Fans of the Star Wars prequels are declared legally retarded. Jehovah’s Witnesses stop knocking on people’s doors. Run credits. Que music. The end.

Damn … that was beautiful. Maybe Will Smith really is a genius. Or maybe I made some of that up.

You’ll have to watch the actual movie to find out! So long, suckers!

P.S.–How can it be called The Karate Kid if there’s no karate in it? They were using Kung Fu. Curse you, movie!

  1. Actually, I’d throw in Prue and make it a five way. She’s the dead one, in case you didn’t know. Hey, as long as Prue shuts her mouth, she’s more than welcome to my fantasy party! Oh, you gave me that look because you thought she’d still be dead when I was banging her? Weirdo.
  2. Even though we both know that’s really sad.
  3. This is Chinese Kung Fu, so don’t call it a dojo ya newb!

About The Atheist Geek

The Atheist Geek is a former Jehovah's Witness turned secular humanist. He's a lifelong sci-fi geek and a writer wannabe.
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