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The Karate Kid (2010) (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 1, 2010 by  



Fantastic!  I was skeptical towards this film and part of me wanted to dislike this film because I enjoyed the original so much.  But the truth is, I really enjoyed this film and felt this remake was faithful to the original but also, production-wise, much bigger than the original.  Both Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan are fantastic and if anything, this is an awesome, inspirational, heartfelt and entertaining film.  Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2010 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Karate Kid

FILM RELEASE: 2010

DURATION: 140 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English-Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG (for bullying, martial arts, action violence and some mild language)

Release Date: October 5, 2010

Directed by Harald Zwart

Screenplay by Christopher Murphey

Story by Robert Mark Kamen

Executive Producer: Susan Ekins, Sanping Han, Dany Wolf

Produced by James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Ken Stovitz, Jerry Weintraub

Co-Producer: Solon So

Line Producer: Chiu Wah Lee, Er-Dong Liu

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by Roger Pratt

Edited by Joel Negron

Casting by PoPing AuYeung, Zoe Thompson

Production Design by Francois Seguin

Art Direction by Second Chan

Costume Design by Han Feng

Starring:

Jaden Smith as Dre Parker

Jackie Chan as Mr. Han

Taraji P. Henson as Sherry Parker

Wenwen Han as Meiying

Rongguang Yu as Master Li

Zhensu Wu as Meiying’s Dad

Zhiheng Wang as Meiying’s Mom

Zhenwei Wang as Cheng

Jared Minns as Dre’s Detroit Friend

Shijia Lu as Liang

Yi Zhao as Zhuang

Bo Zhang as Song

Luke Carberry as Harry

Cameron Hillman as Mark

Ghye Samuel Brown as Oz

Rocky Shi as Ur Dang

Ji Wang as Mrs. Po

Harry Van Gorkum as Music Instructor

12-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) could’ve been the most popular kid in Detroit, but his mother’s (Taraji P. Henson) latest career move has landed him in China. Dre immediately falls for his classmate Mei Ying – and the feeling is mutual – but cultural differences make such a friendship impossible. Even worse, Dre’s feelings make an enemy of the class bully, Cheng. In the land of kung fu, Dre knows only a little karate, and Cheng puts “the karate kid” on the floor with ease. With no friends in a strange land, Dre has nowhere to turn but maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who is secretly a master of kung fu. As Han teaches Dre that kung fu is not about punches and parries, but maturity and calm, Dre realizes that facing down the bullies will be the fight of his life.’

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Training Montage Great Wall

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Trailer

When word came out that “The Karate Kid” would receive a remake, I have to admit that I was quite skeptical.  With the announcement of martial arts superstar Jackie Chan as the first star named, although I love Jackie Chan, I was even more skeptical because of the location of where the film would take place (China) and that karate is not a Chinese martial art.  Also, that director Harold Zwart  (“Agent Cody Banks”, “Pink Panther 2”) would be the direct.  And to even further my skepticism, the announcement of actor Will Smith’s young son Jaden Smith (“The Pursuit of Happyness”, “The Day the Earth Stood Still”) as the main character did calm my nerves one bit.

That is until I watched the film.

And what an enjoyable film “The Karate Kid” remake  came to be and many people agreed as the film which was budgeted around $40 million had made $334 million worldwide and the majority of the reviews were positive.  And as for the name “The Karate Kid”, despite the film not having anything to do with karate, because the film is a remake, for the American release, the film will be known as “The Karate Kid” but in Asia, the film would go by the name “The Kung Fu Kid”.

“The Karate Kid” (2010) revolves around Dre Parker (played by Jaden Smith), a 12-year-old boy who lives with his mother Sherry (played by Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Boston Legal”) and are leaving Detroit to go to Beijing where her mother will be working.

Dre’s first day in Beijing seemed to look as if everything was going well.  Dre finds himself falling for young violinist named Mei Ying (played by Wen Wen Han) and as the two seem to be having fun, Dre is beaten by a bunch of bullies led by Cheng (played by Zhenwei Wang).

To make things worse for Dre, he finds out that the bullies attend the same school as him and they continue to give him a hard time.    So, Dre tries to learn karate by video and even thinks about joining the local kung fu school but only to learn that the bully Cheng and his friends are students at the Kung-Fu school.  Knowing that he is over matched and no way he can defend himself against them, Dre wants to leave China badly but his mother tells him that China is their new home.

Now always in fear of the bullies, Dre tries to avoid them the best he can. But one day, when Dre finds an opportunity to get back at them, he ends up getting beaten so bad until the maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) steps in to save his life and beats the bullies up himself.

Mr. Han tries to help Dre and prevent the bullying by talking to the Kung-Fu instructor Master Li (played by Yu Rongguang) but learns that Master Li teaches Kung Fu without mercy and that he will not stop the kids from bullying Dre unless he fights them at the local Kung Fu tournament.  Mr. Han finds Master Li’s way of Kung Fu as disgusting and bad, but he and Master Li make a deal that Chen and his friends can not touch Dre and if Dre wins, they will not touch him anymore.

Mr. Han tells Dre that he will have to fight at the tournament but he will train him in the right way of learning Kung Fu, but as a student, Dre must do everything he tells him to.

Will Dre be prepared to take on any opponent at the Kung Fu tournament, let alone Cheng and the other bullies?

VIDEO:

“The Karate Kid” (2010) is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).    If there is one thing that this remake does have an edge over the original is that this film was shot in China and the film looks absolutely beautiful in HD.  There is so much detail in this film, may it be the paint peeling off  from the walls or wood, the detail on the wood bars when Dre visits a Kung-Fu training area.  The film looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray!

The film is absolutely breathtaking as we see how wonderful the cinematography is (courtesy of Roger Pratt, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, “Iris”, “Chocolat”) when we see the various mountainous regions of China, the Great Wall of China and surprisingly how much access the filmmaker was given to shoot this film.  But also it helps to have the co-production with a major Chinese film company who also wanted to make the film look authentic and real.

Colors are absolute vibrant, flesh tones look fantastic, backs are nice and deep and once again, the detail of this film and the colors are just wonderful.  Everything about the picture quality of this film is pristine and there is a fine layer of grain on the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Karate Kid” (201o) not only looks spectacular, the lossless audio is also fantastic.  The film is presented in English and French 5.1 DTS-HD MA and also presented in English – Audio Description 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The dialogue is crisp and clear.  The music of James Horner (“Avatar”, “Troy”, “Enemy at the Gates”, “Titanic”) is as always fantastic and you also get a good dose of popular music with Lady Gaga and Flo Rida.  But as the dialogue and music comes perfectly from the center and front channels but also, there is great use of the surround channels.

Earlier on, you can hear the punching and the kicks coming from the surround channels but you can also hear the ambiance of crowds (especially during the tournament), the rain, Mr. Han working on his car (or demolishing his car), “Karate Kid” is such a film that takes advantage of the soundscape. Overall, the audio quality for “The Karate Kid” is fantastic!

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Karate Kid” comes with the following special features presented in HD, English Stereo and English subtitles:

  • ON LOCATION: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China – Director Harald Zwart talks about capturing China’s culture in the film and also the challenges at shooting in the various locations in China such as the Wudang Mountains (4:24); The Great Wall which includes filming at the China Film Group Film Base at Huairou (4:45) and shooting a the Great Wall (1:36); Beijing:  Beiying Film Studios (2:36), Beijing Shaolin Wushu School (1:34), Feng Tai Sports Arena (2:05), the Forbidden City (1:05), Olympic Park (:59) .
  • Alternate Ending – (3:32) An ending that makes the film become more like what we would see from a  Jackie Chan martial arts film but it does take away the primary focus of  the story which is about Dre.  Cool action sequence but I’m glad this ending was not used.
  • Play All Hosted by Jackie Chan – (29:44) Featuring the production diaries as one full documentary hosted by Jackie Chan.
  • Production Diaries Hosted by Jackie Chan – A total of nine production diaries which include: Training Jaden (3:12), Jaden Smith, A Day in the Life (3:50), The Forbidden City (3:59), From Jackie with Love (3:56), The Great Wall (3:10), Olympic Village (3:06), Director Profile (2:19), Taraji P. Henson Goes to China (2:40) and Wudang Mountains (3:19).
  • Chinese Lessons – Learn Chinese! – An interactive feature that teaches viewers basic Chinese words and phrases.  Lessons include: Basic Greetings, Numbers, No Hot Water, I Want to Go Home, Training and General Vocabulary.
  • Music Video: Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith “Never Say Never” – (3:49) It’s known that both Bieber and Smith are good friends and this is probably the first time I’ve seen Jaden Smith taking part music but definitely following in his father’s hip hop footsteps.
  • Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid – (20:09) The making of “The Karate Kid” remake and the challenge that the filmmakers had of remaking the original, martial arts training for Jaden Smith,  what kind of presence Jackie Chan had on the set.  Filming in various locations of China, the music of “The Karate Kid” and more.
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  • PS3 Wallpaper Theme

“The Karate Kid” (2010) was much more than I expected and I admit, I was a big skeptic when it came to the announcements and then watching the trailer.  I watched the original film several dozen times and as mentioned in my review for the original film, it’s a film that I just never get tired of.  It’s hard not to dislike a film about an underdog but with “Karate Kid” (2002), there are many things that impressed me.

First, the acting performance by both Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.  Jaden Smith really went through a lot in the training of this film and with the original film,  Ralph Macchio was pretty much a man playing a teenage role, while Jaden Smith, he is a young kid and what the director (especially his producer parents) brought out of him was pretty well-done.  He has the bravado and slight cockiness like the original film’s Daniel Larusso but it is quite evident, Smith went through major training much more than Ralph Macchio probably had to go through.

In fact, Jaden Smith studied martial arts for more than half a year, three months learning Wushu and weapons training from a stunt coordinator that has worked with Jackie Chan.  So, to make this film look convincing, Jaden Smith really dedicated himself into practicing as well as enduring pain for this fim.

If there is one thing where the film was make it or break it, it was the chemistry between Smith and Chan.  Jackie Chan was absolutely marvelous in this film.  We have heard Jackie talk about wanting to play serious roles and we have seen that with his 2009 film “Shinjuku Incident” but not only does the filmmakers give him action scenes, they gave Chan the opportunity to show that he can do emotional crying scenes and there is no doubt that Chan’s performance will have people tearing in one of the more emotional scenes of the film.

What also works is how beautiful this film looks and how well the pacing was for the overall film.   Harald Zwart did an incredible job in the overall execution.  From wanting to get the right shots, getting the right look and feel for the film and even being under the gun of shooting in locations that were difficult to shoot at or they only had less than a half hour window to shoot at.

For example, filming at the Forbidden City (which was the first time since “The Last Emperor”) is constantly visited by visitors throughout the day and so they only had 20 minutes to shoot during the early morning before the visitors arrived.  Zwart managed the time and schedule very well.

So,  Zwart was able to accomplish a lot during the filming of “The Karate Kid” and it helps that he was paired with a wonderful cinematographer, Roger Pratt and musician/composer James Horner.  Zwart’s cinematography is fantastic and if anything, what he was able to capture on film looks absolutely gorgeous in HD and the same goes with James Horner who knows how to create movie soundtracks.  Horner has done a tremendous job for films like “Titanic” and “Avatar” and he did a great job for “The Karate Kid” and it helps that the film does have music that will appeal to younger fans who love Lady GaGa, Justin Bieber and Flo Rida.

And also deserving recognition is screenwriter Christopher Murphy and writer Robert Mark Kamen (“Taken”, “The Fifth Element” and “Transporter” films) in making sure the story for this remake was good and doing a lot of the research needed to make this film seem authentic.

As for the Blu-ray, you really can’t go wrong as not only do you get a film that looks absolutely fantastic and sounds wonderful on Blu-ray, you also get a good number of special features included in this release that makes “The Karate Kid” worth owning.

Overall, I know there are quite a number of my friends who refuse to watch this film because of its title (since the martial art focused in the film is Kung Fu) and those who still appreciate and love the original film that they can’t support a remake.   Some have issues with filmmaker Harald Zwart and even Jaden Smith playing the lead role.  But I don’t blame them because I know how that feels because I felt the same way.

I was very skeptical towards this film and the truth is, there are many remakes that are terrible but this is not one of them.  The film is not only faithful to the original film but it gives us even more than the original to love and enjoy, and as I will always love the original film, I have to say that I really enjoyed this remake of “The Karate Kid” as well and  I really enjoyed this Blu-ray release!  It’s an awesome release!

If you loved the film  or looking for an action-based, underdog against his rivals type of martial arts film that is inspirational, heartfelt and entertaining,  “The Karate Kid” (2010) is highly recommended.






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