CATEGORIES Reviews
Viewers might have an idea how the kid in 'The Karate Kid' fares against the bully in this remake of the 1984 film, but in critic land, the quesion is, how does it stand up to the now-iconic original? Pretty well, according to many scribes, who feel that this new version -- starring Jaden Smith as the kid and Jackie Chan as the teacher -- has the right amount of heart and action to compare favorably.

Director Harald Zwart ('The Pink Panther 2' and the Cody Banks movies) draws praise for hitting the same notes as the original, yet a few critics cite Smith's diminutive size as unrealistic for the film's fight scenes. Some also point out that Chan's obvious martial arts ability is a drawback: Part of the appeal of the first one was the surprise of Pat Morita's fighting skills. No such surprise here with Chan in the role, critics say.

This version features Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who are also producers) relocating to China with his mom (Taraji P. Henson). Once there, it's quite a culture shock for the kid, who is smitten by a classmate and gets beaten up by the school bully. Then he meets Chan, who teaches him kung fu, (not karate, despite the film's title). Viewers might have an idea how the kid in 'The Karate Kid' fares against the bully in this remake of the 1984 film, but in critic land, the quesion is, how does it stand up to the now-iconic original? Pretty well, according to many scribes, who feel that this new version -- starring Jaden Smith as the kid and Jackie Chan as the teacher -- has the right amount of heart and action to compare favorably.

Director Harald Zwart ('The Pink Panther 2' and the Cody Banks movies) draws praise for hitting the same notes as the original, yet a few critics cite Smith's diminutive size as unrealistic for the film's fight scenes. Some also point out that Chan's obvious martial arts ability is a drawback: Part of the appeal of the first one was the surprise of Pat Morita's fighting skills. No such surprise here with Chan in the role, critics say.

This version features Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who are also producers) relocating to China with his mom (Taraji P. Henson). Once there, it's quite a culture shock for the kid, who is smitten by a classmate and gets beaten up by the school bully. Then he meets Chan, who teaches him kung fu, (not karate, despite the film's title).

Entertainment Weekly: "A remake of the 1984 go-for-it classic, the new 'Karate Kid' is longer than the original film (it's 140 minutes) and a couple of shades more downbeat, with Dre as a lonely Odd Kid Out in the bustling bureaucratic China that is his new home. Jackie Chan has a corresponding melancholy as the maintenance man who teaches Dre the art of kung fu. (Yes, they should have called it The Kung Fu Kid -- but you don't mess with brand titles like this one.) All in all, 'The Karate Kid' is a more somber, less playful movie than the original, but at heart it's the same old irresistible candy corn."

Roger Ebert: "The original was one of its year's best movies. The new one lacks the perfect freshness of that one; there aren't many surprises, as it follows the 1984 version almost point by point. But here is a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet."

The Associated Press: "Ralph Macchio was what, like, 35 when he played Daniel? But he looked 16, as his character was, so he seemed like a good fit. Now the character, Dre, is 12 -- as is the film's star, Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada (both executive producers). But with his pretty face and slight build, Smith looks about 9. It's inescapably distracting. And so neither the fighting nor the romance with a girl who's out of his league -- two key components of 'The Karate Kid' -- makes sense."

'The Karate Kid' trailer



Orlando Sentinel: "It's not an improvement over the equally violent original. But 'The Karate Kid' is a slick, polished re-boot and re-setting of a fondly-remembered film franchise of the past, And if Jackie Chan can't surprise us, at least he's around to explain how 'karate' isn't the same thing as 'kung fu.'"

Variety: "Sony's multiculti reboot remains largely faithful to the enduring 1984 crowdpleaser, albeit with enough tin-eared English and Mandarin dialogue to bring another famous Chan (Charlie) to mind. Results are often flatly formulaic but ingratiating enough to lure family audiences onto the mat, though the hefty runtime might undercut pic's B.O. chops."

The Hollywood Reporter: "And though Chan is highly appealing as the quirky sensei, the impact of his performance can't compare to Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita's Oscar-nominated turn. When Morita's seemingly meek and unassuming Mr. Miyagi finally displayed his prodigious fighting prowess, it was a delightful surprise. Here, the effect is lost; despite his bad haircut and shuffling manner, from the first minute he appears, one is aware that Chan's Mr. Han is capable of kicking serious ass."

Arizona Republic: "Echoing the original, Mr. Han uses unorthodox (though different) methods to train Dre. And Mr. Han has a secret. What's different, aside from the setting, is that Smith is so small, a wisp of a fellow. Macchio wasn't exactly a bodybuilder, but he was a little older, a little more substantial. Zwart makes sure to get across the pain and suffering Dre's beatings leave him with, but a couple of punches look like they'd be hard to come back from, Mr. Han's healing methods notwithstanding."

Chicago Tribune: "The material has been reworked to showcase Jaden Smith, who was 11 during filming. He kicks a lot higher than Macchio ever did, though watching a preteen subjected to two-plus hours of ritual humiliation and punishment offers a different, more sobering emotional experience than a young adult playing a high schooler."