The Karate Kid

Last night I stayed up to watch the last Jonathan Ross show on the BBC. The guests consisted of Mickey Rourke, David Beckham and Jackie Chan (and Roxy Music, I should add). Chan still can’t speak English properly, but he was nevertheless eloquent about the beginning of his life. He trained rigorously in the martial arts for ten years (one of the exercises he described was running, for one hour, whilst holding a full glass of water in each hand – spillage resulted in severe punishment). Chan was on the show to push his latest film, a remake of The Karate Kid. He was clearly genuinely enthusiastic about his co-star in the film, Jaden Smith, the twelve year-old son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Today, we went to see for ourselves. Chan is his usual excellent self, but Jaden Smith was everything Chan had said he was. For a start, he is a very handsome and telegenic boy, but he is also a great actor and a brilliant gymnast and he really does carry off his role with aplomb. High praise is also due to Zhenwei Wang, who plays villainous bully and ultimately Smith’s opponent, Cheng. This is not a great film but it is a good one. The script is leavened, as always in Chan films, with cod-philosophy. I noted: ‘the best fight is a fight avoided’; and ‘in a fight with an angry blind man, keep your distance.’ And also ‘There is a huge difference between sitting still and doing nothing.’ Good fun.


  1. Nick Crosby

    I saw the film last night, albeit in French dubbed version and loved it. Is the philosophy cod? Maybe or just eternal. So hard to divide the two because the authenticity of the message- a classic heroes tale, straight out of Joseph Campbell (and self-knowingly so, viz. Star Wars references) suggests some delicious irony.

  2. Martin

    Most of the reviews have panned the film, making unfavourable comparisons with the original. If I have one criticism it is that at times it is very violent, though some one could call that realism. It seems to me, though, that the aphorisms are knowingly ironic, which is what makes them such good fun and the film overall is, as you say, a classic heroes tale and good entertainment.

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