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SONY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Harald Zwart
Cast:
Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson, Wenwen Han, Rongguang Yu, Zhensu Wu, Zhiheng Wang, Zhenwei Wang
Writing Credits:
Christopher Murphey, Robert Mark Kamen (story)

Synopsis:
12-year-old Dre Parker could've been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother's latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying - and the feeling is mutual - but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre's feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts "the karate kid" on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han, who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$55.665 million on 3663 screens.
Domestic Gross
$176.591 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 140 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 10/5/2010

Bonus:
• “On Location: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China”
• Alternate Ending
• Production Diaries
• Chinese Lessons
• Music Video
• “Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid” Featurette
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Karate Kid [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 4, 2010)

Since his big screen debut in 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness, Jaden Smith hadn’t done much as an actor. Other than a role in 2008’s Day the Earth Stood Still, he appeared largely content to just be a kid – no small feat with two famous acting parents behind him.

I guess Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith haven’t pushed the kid, so it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes now that he’s starred in a bona fide hit. Smith played supporting roles in his first two flicks, but he takes the lead in 2010’s The Karate Kid, a successful remake of the 1984 original.

Both films share similar stories, though the 2010 version makes a few changes. Sherry Parker (Taraji P. Henson) gets a good job offer in China, so she uproots her 12-year-old son Dre (Smith) and they move to Asia. Dre doesn’t embrace this change, and he finds it hard to integrate with Chinese society.

Things start to look up when he befriends cute Meiying (Wenwen Han), but Dre soon runs into trouble. A boy named Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) takes a dislike to Dre and beats the snot out of him.

Dre takes his lumps but eventually gets back at his tormentor. This leads to a potential massive beating from Cheng and his pals, but a local handyman named Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) intervenes and rescues Dre.

Inspired by Mr. Han’s feats, Dre gets the custodian to teach him kung fu. This allows them to bond and get to know each. It also leads us toward a climax in which Dre will battle Cheng and his pals during a martial arts tournament.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Sure, it makes some changes, most of which involve age and geography. The original flick’s Daniel moved from the East Coast to California, and he’s also considerably older; the remake shaves a good five or six years in the change from Daniel to Dre.

Otherwise, the movies seem a whole lot alike. Most of the differences seem like token changes, such as the switch from “wax on, wax off” to a new training technique. The 2010 Kid also manages to have fun with the original’s legacy, such as when it riffs on the “catching a fly with chopsticks” bit.

So the 2010 Kid comes with two potential stumbling blocks: its too faithful retelling of the original, and its length. At 127 minutes, the first flick was already pretty long, but the remake extends all the way to 140 minutes. For a scrappy underdog story – especially one aimed at kids – that running time felt like an obstacle to cinematic success.

Despite these issues, the 2010 Kid ends up as a reasonably satisfying excursion. Much of the credit goes to young Smith, who delivers a good turn in the lead role. Yes, he seems to have inherited some of his dad’s personality tendencies, which gives him a Mini Me vibe at times, but Smith manages to stand out on his own.

And he appears wholly unwilling to beg for the audience’s love. That’s a big positive for me; most child actors mug and overact, but Smith keeps things under control. Sure, he goofs around and shows off at times, but he does so well within the normal limits of an average kid. Smith lacks the pandering quality of the average child actor, so he brings more depth and heart to the role than expected.

Chan also seems surprisingly strong. Over his career, he’s tended toward his own form of hammy broadness, but he reins himself in for the quiet, slightly haunted Mr. Han. Chan doesn’t seem quite as memorable as Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi, but he more than holds his own.

Chan also lends more spark to the fight sequences, especially when Dre first sees Mr. Han’s mad skillz. Mr. Han’s battle with Cheng and his pals becomes possibly the film’s most fun. In the original, Mr. Miyagi could really duke it out with Johnny and his buddies because of the latter’s age; they were virtually adults – and he was past his prime – so the fight seemed acceptable.

Here, however, matters could’ve come across as borderline abusive; the sight of an adult beating up kids wouldn’t have looked good. The movie finds a clever way around this; Mr. Han’s defensive maneuvers mean that the kids beat up themselves. The battle becomes both funny and exciting.

The film’s climax also manages to be fairly effective, though it seems too similar to the same scene from the original. I don’t mind most of the remake’s cloned sequences, but that’s one that should’ve tried harder to branch out on its own. It offers minor modifications but lacks the creativity that would allow it to stand on its own. Sure, we know how the movie will end anyway, but a climax that tries harder to alter its predecessor’s template would’ve created better drama.

Even with the remake’s refusal to diverge from the original’s narrative threads, it still manages to stand pretty well on its own. It comes with some nice performances, better character depth and enough charm to create an enjoyable film.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Karate Kid appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No significant concerns emerged here.

For the most part, sharpness looked solid. An occasional wide shot seemed a smidgen soft, but those instances remained infrequent and minor, as the majority of the movie appeared concise. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects materialized, and I witnessed no edge haloes or artifacts. Source flaws also remained absent during this clean presentation.

In terms of colors, think teal – think teal a lot. That’s an overused tint in modern films, and Kid fully embraced it. The occasional orange-ish/reddish sequence also emerged, but for the most part, teal ruled the flick. While that was an unoriginal touch, I couldn’t fault the replication of the tones, as they looked good at all times. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity. Other than the sliver of softness, I found nothing about which to complain here.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed perfectly serviceable. Most of the time, I thought the soundfield concentrated on music and general atmosphere. A few sequences broadened the auditory horizons – usually during fights – but not a whole lot stood out here as particularly memorable. Given the movie’s character orientation, though, I didn’t have a problem with this; I thought it filled the spectrum in an appropriate manner.

Audio quality was more than acceptable. Music seemed full and rich, while speech appeared natural and distinctive; no edginess or brittleness affected the lines. Effects presented good punch and clarity, and low-end was tight. All in all, the sound served the film in a satisfying manner.

A smattering of extras fill out the set. On Location: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China lets us explore the film’s setting. Narrated by director Harald Zwart, this takes us to a few locations: Wudang Mountains (four minutes, 24 seconds), The Great Wall (1:35), China Film Group Film Base at Huairou (4:45), The Forbidden City (1:05), Olympic Park (0:55), Beiying Film Studios (2:36), Beijing Shaolin Wushu School (1:34), and Feng Tai Sports Arena (2:05). Each screen shows a few text facts, and Zwart provides nice details about the shoot as we see footage from the production. While not a substitute for a full commentary, “Location” offers a good little overview of various areas.

An Alternate Ending lasts three minutes, 32 seconds. This creates a wild action finale with two adult characters. It’s fun but I assume it got cut because it distracts from Dre’s victory; it feels like it’s part of a different movie.

Nine Production Diaries fill a total of 29 minutes, 44 seconds. Hosted by actor Jackie Chan, these involve Zwart, stunt coordinator/trainer Gang Wu, 1st AD Marty Schwartz, executive producer Dany Wolf, producers Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Ken Stovitz, and actors Jaden Smith and Taraji P. Henson. The “Diaries” cover Jaden Smith’s martial arts training, an average shoot day for Jaden Smith, locations, characters and performances, and Zwart’s work as director. These tend to be superficial and fluffy, but they give us enough decent behind the scenes footage to merit a look.

Next we find some Chinese Lessons. These teach “Basic Greetings”, “Numbers”, “No Hot Water”, “I Want to Go Home”, “Training” and “General Vocabulary”. They use movie clips along with voiceover to deliver the information. This becomes a mildly interesting tutorial but nothing more.

The inescapable Justin Bieber turns up in a music video for “Never Say Never”. Jaden Smith appears as well in this dull video for an utterly forgettable song.

Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid runs 20 minutes, nine seconds and features Zwart, Chan, Jaden Smith, Chan, Gang, Henson, Wolf, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Schwartz, producer Jerry Weintraub, screenwriter Christopher Murphey, composer James Horner and actor Wenwen Han. “Kicks” discusses the adaptation of the original film, training and rehearsals, cast and performances, martial arts, locations, and music. Like the “Diaries”, some good notes emerge here, but the overall result feels puffy.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Grown Ups and Stomp the Yard: Homecoming. These also appear under Previews along with promos for Open Season 3, Hancock, and The Karate Kid (1984). No trailer for Kid (2010) shows up here.

Like many people, I expected the worst from the 2010 Karate Kid remake. However, the end result comes as a pleasant surprise. While not without flaws, this version boasts enough charm and entertainment to make it satisfying. The Blu-ray provides very good picture, satisfying audio, and a decent set of supplements. I’d like more bonus materials, but overall, this becomes a good release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main