Aw Damn. After all that Karate Kid discussion (thanks for the shoutout, OMD, by the way), I totally reversed my stance and took the wards to a mall showing (complete with an awesome trip to Hot Dog On A Stick) of the film. I know, I know. No integrity.
A girl gets desperate when she is hanging out with bored kids and the temp is going to get close to 100 degrees. Have a little pity.
Anyway. It's not bad. The worst parts are actually all the nods to the original. I wish that they had just made a kung fu film with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith and had forgotten about the fly/chopstick bit, the dead wife, the evil sensai, and the hopping at the competition. That was all the weakest stuff. (Well, that and one performance, which I will discuss further in a moment.)
The film is actually pretty beautiful to watch. I could have used even more scenes in the urban playground. (I love the ping pong dude!) The festival scene and the location training scenes are also beautiful. The highest praise I can give the film is that it made me yen to go to China myself--something that not even America's Next Top Model has been able to do.
Watching Jaden Smith is like watching a tiny version of Will Smith. They are charming in EXACTLY the same way. They move in EXACTLY the same way. It would be creepy if it were not so adorable. Also. That little kid is ripped. How does that even happen? It was impressive. (One of my wards rushed home and immediately started to do push ups with his feet up on one of the living room chairs. He also was impressed by J. Smith's awesome upper body.)
On the down side: I COULD NOT STAND the woman who played Smith's mother. Which is weird, because I really wanted to like her. But she was annoying. And she took away from every scene she was in. It was frustrating.
As I predicted, the age of the young Smith is a little bit of a problem. The romance between Smith and the freaking adorable Wenwen Han would have been more successful if they were both just a little bit older. I was also a little weirded out by the fact that Smith's character seemed significantly younger than any of his kung fu opponents. (In fact, one of them looked like he could be 20. What is a 20 year old doing trying to beat up a 12 year old?!) Listen, William Zabka was a lot bigger than the Macchio, but he didn't seem to be a whole lot older. It is a totally different scenario.
Bottom line? If you can think of this film as NOT part of the orignal franchise, you can certainly be entertained by this film.
Stay tuned for discussions about my summer obsessions: Tasty Planet, white chocolate mac nut Luna bars and audio books! (Do not judge, dear readers.)