Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:June 30th, 2010 14:37 EST
Dre Parker, the New Karate Kid

Dre Parker, the New Karate Kid

By Tony Graff

After watching the Karate Kid, featuring Jackie Chan and Aiden Smith, my first instinct was to compare it to the Eighties` version, the one with Mr. Miyagi, played by Pat Morita. After I concluded that neither movie could be classified as the better movie, I separated the two again, and took a step back to see each one individually. 

The older version has become a classic. Who couldn`t fall in love with Mr. Miyagi`s carefree attitude, mild personality, and self-serving training techniques? Those aspects alone were able to make some of the holes in the plot-line acceptable, or at least tolerable. It made me want to become a karate instructor just so I can have complete strangers do all the chores I don`t want to do myself. Danny LaRusso felt like a real person, showing the complete range of emotions of your average 16 year old. 

The newer version shouldn`t really be compared to the older one. It`s a completely different set of circumstances, which produced a separate film. The reasons we laughed at the old version aren`t the reasons we don`t enjoy the new one. Aiden Smith does a great job exhibiting powerful emotion, like his hatred for China, his anger at the kids who beat the crap out of him, even his mom for forcing him out to the bizarre culture and away from the life he knew. Jackie Chan also pulls out a great Mr. Han, complete with the powerfully emotional scene where we find out that his family was killed in a car crash, and he`s been building that car, just so he can destroy it again. 

The big thing that struck me on the new movie was how much it showed acceptable for 12 year olds. In all reality, the movie showed a lot of violence for kids who are just learning that the opposite gender doesn`t have cooties. If you`re still young enough to be picked up and hugged by your parents, you shouldn`t be beating the living daylights out of other kids your age and getting your first kiss. Way too young for that. The power and ferocity that each of the karate scenes between these kids wasn`t unlike something Jackie Chan or Jet Li packed in some of their younger, but still adult years, and that made me nervous to see in kids younger than me. While I`m all for Kung-fu, and the peaceful mastery of self-discipline it brings its followers, it didn`t seem realistic for children that young to have vendettas that deep. 

I will give credit to the unique training methods Mr. Han used in training Dre. The producers probably could have gotten away with rehashing the old "wax on, wax off" line, they instead created a training regiment that wasn`t the master pawning off all his household chores on a kid. It felt like it more embraced what Mr. Han told Dre about Kung-fu being in how we live, and how we treat others. The scene that follows, where the kid learns what he is doing actually means something, is also much more realistic than Danny magically knowing how to block a barrage of strikes and kicks thrown at him. 
Once the popcorn`s eaten and the lights slowly fade back into being, the 80`s version was a classic, teaching us that good does win, and the real victory is overcoming yourself, the 2010 version really made me look at what Kung-fu is with a renewed interest. Both were really good, but not close enough to really be compared.