JT Film Review

95 – The Karate Kid (2010)

The Karate Kid REVIEW

3/5 stars

Director – Harald Zwart

Cast – Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Hansen, Zhenwei Wang


The 1984 movie The Karate Kid gets an update with 2010’s The Karate Kid. The name stays the same, despite the fact that the actual martial art portrayed here is kung-fu. Jaden Smith, son (and, I suspect, clone) of Will Smith replaces Ralph Macchio as the young student, and Jackie Chan replaces Pat Morita as the patient yet troubled teacher.

The plot deals with Smith who moves to China (due to his mother being transferred), and finds himself being bullied by a kung-fu student in his class. After Chan tries to intervene with the boys teacher, Smith is entered in an open kung-fu tournament as a way to reclaim his honour (or something). Chan takes the boy on and trains him for the tournament.

I must admit to being a little surprised by the movie. It was better than I was expecting. Jackie Chan is very good, every time he is onscreen we watch him. He is a wonderful actor. Jaden Smith is also good, though he does come across as strikingly similar to his father, down to the smallest of mannerisms. However he knows how to create an interesting, grounded character. The opening of the movie is measured and deliberate, paced wonderfully. No shot is wasted, but it doesn’t whip by too quick either. The setup is clean and efficient, as is quite entertaining.

The training sequences of the movie are also quite good. Jaden Smith’s character is a bit of an arrogant prick, and we enjoy watching Jackie Chan take him down a notch or two. The device that replaces the famous “wax on, wax off” is very interesting. We almost believe that this little kid would truly be able to learn what Chan is teaching him.

We do, that is, until the tournament itself . This is unfortunately one of the worst failings of the movie. We have seen what Jaden has been taught, and yet the things we see him do are absolutely unbelievable. The move which replaces the fabled (and made up) “crane kick” of the first film is just laughable in its complexity. It was straight out of The Matrix, and of course, was out of tone with the rest of the movie.

The other huge flaw with the movie is its pace. After the first 45 minutes it starts to drag, and drag hard. I think the movie could have easily lost half an hour without a sweat. The Karate Kid was co-financed by the China Film Group, and as such we are “treated” to lengthy sequences showcasing Chinese monastic culture, the Great Wall, etc. These definitely could have been cut, as with a scene where Chan takes Smith to a monastery which features a spiritual healing well (or something).


The Karate Kid is a movie with its heart in the right place, but unfortunately it is hampered  by its extremely slow pace and a couple unbelievable kung-fu sequences. The actors are quite good, but in the end the movie doesn’t quite live up to its premise’s possibilities.



“The Karate Kid” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia



June 21, 2010 - Posted by | 3 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Family, Year - 2010-2019 | , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. man!!! i love this new movie its better than the old 1, because ur like “wats gonna happen next?” i wished Will Smith would be my uncle and Jaden SMith and Willow Smith would be cuzins… well yeah but still love that new movie.
    Jaden will be a good actor like his dad. and Willow is a good singer for a “gurl” for her age 🙂

    Comment by Ruth Marcano | November 2, 2010 | Reply

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