Tuesday 22 Jul

Manmade Objects - Monuments

No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.

And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
07/15/2014 | Comments 0

Admirals - Amidst the Blue

Sometimes it helps to not be very good.

Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.

07/09/2014 | Comments 0

Kierston White - Don't Write Love Songs

The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?

Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.

07/01/2014 | Comments 0

Depth & Current - Dysrhythmia

"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
06/24/2014 | Comments 0

Weak Knees - “IceBevo”

Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
06/17/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Jackie Chan almost kicks new life...

Jackie Chan almost kicks new life into the 1980s remake 'The Karate Kid'

Phil Bacharach June 10th, 2010

There's no escaping the 1980s. Multiplexes recently saw a reboot of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and soon will make room for a theatrical version of TV's "The A-Team." Even massive oil spills and Gary Coleman are back in the news. So perhaps a reworking of "The Karate Kid," that beloved underdog-makes-good yarn from 1984, was only inevitable.

Whether the world needed a new "Karate Kid," however, is debatable. The original, where Ralph Macchio's bullied teen was taken under the wing of a martial-arts sensei played by Pat Morita, was agreeably schmaltzy. Its patchwork of clichés — teen outcast, a wise mentor, the big match — proved as irresistible as it was shameless.

The new one remains faithful to plot basics while seeking to add a bit of oomph. Our hero this time around is 12-year-old Dre Parker, portrayed by Jaden Smith ("The Pursuit of Happyness") the genetically fortunate offspring of producers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Morita's Mr. Miyagi is now supplanted by Jackie Chan ("The Spy Next Door").

While the early "Kid" offered the culture shock of a New Jersey kid in bleached-blonde California, this version is more globally ambitious, making Dre a new arrival in Beijing, where his single mom (Taraji P. Henson, "Date Night") has a new job. China is an eventful place. Dre is barely off the plane before he is smitten by a cute girl (Wenwen Han) and terrorized by thugs led by Cheng (Zhenwei Wang). Luckily for Dre, the maintenance man of his apartment complex, Mr. Han (Chan), agrees to school the boy in kung fu.

Clocking in at nearly two-and-a-half hours, "The Karate Kid" takes its time telling a story so utterly predictable. Director Harald Zwart ("The Pink Panther 2") reveals flashes of stylistic flair, but the pace is by turns leisurely and leaden. More disappointing is how the picture misses opportunities of its own making. "Karate Kid" takes a black preteen from Detroit, places him in China, and then fails to do anything interesting with the premise. Dre attends a new school where the Chinese teachers and students happily speak English. We never enter a classroom; the only interaction we see is in the cafeteria for the obligatory bully-trips-hero incident.

Such wasted potential for drama is among several ways in which this "Karate Kid" falls short of its predecessor. The '84 flick was corny, certainly, but its grounding in a semblance of reality ratcheted up the stakes for our hero. You don't sense that here. And while the film's fight scenes are compelling, their reliance on sound-effects overkill comes across as odd when we're watching Chan smack down a posse of kiddos.

What saves "The Karate Kid" from mediocrity is the likability of its cast. Henson is terrific, while Smith proves charm can be inherited. Then there is Chan. Sporting a scraggly goatee and his customary charisma, he injects some much-needed life into an otherwise bland enterprise. He is easily the best part of the movie. —Phil Bacharach

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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