Find out what thought of The Karate Kid - and if son of Will can lead a film - after the jump... The Karate Kid (PG)
Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P Henson, Wang Zhenwei
Director: Harald Zwart
Running time: 139 minutes
Trailer: Watch it here
In a nutshell: It's fair to say that Jaden Smith has been afforded career opportunities that don't come to many kids. First of all, he landed the role of Will Smith's son in hit drama The Pursuit Of Happyness. Now one of the producers of that film – Will Smith! – has selected him to star in this remake of the 1984 martial-arts classic. Lucky break, huh? In this present-day update, 12-year-old Dre reluctantly relocates with his mother (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's Henson) to Beijing. Attracting the attention of local bullies who know kung fu, Dre turns to an unlikely mentor, the humble caretaker (Chan) with a secret past. But can the kid acquire enough martial arts skills in time for the big tournament where he'll face his tormentors in the ring?
What's good about it? Jaden may have earned his break into acting thanks to his status as the son of the world's biggest movie star, but that doesn't make him unworthy of those opportunities. In fact, the youngster more than repays the confidence that's been placed in him, with a likeable turn that holds the centre of the movie. Chan, who delivered some shameless mugging in recent alleged comedies such as The Spy Next Door, is agreeably restrained here, benefiting from a tragic back story that is gradually revealed. The screenplay by debutant Christopher Murphey is so well-crafted in its story beats, we have to presume an expert guiding hand from producers such as Will Smith and his partner James Lassiter. Chinese setting contributes awesome photogenic locations for the training montages.
What's not so good? At two hours and 19 minutes, for a movie targeting a family audience, the pacing is a tad indulgent. Despite accommodating a romantic storyline for Dre, it should still have been possible to bring the film in under two hours.
Verdict: Fans of the Ralph Macchio original may view the remake as redundant at best, and sacrilege at worst, but anyone who is seeing The Karate Kid for the first time will probably be charmed and pleasantly surprised.
Rating: 7 out of 10