‘The Karate Kid’
Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan
To anyone alive in the 1980s, “The Karate Kid” legend is a familiar one. In this re-boot, Jaden Smith (son of Will and Jada) stars in the role Ralph Macchio made a Reagan-era icon.
The story’s been freshened up by a move to Beijing, but the filmmakers wisely kept the underdog-coming-of-age tale front and center: Smith plays Dre, a cocky 12-year-old recession victim who has to pack up and move so his mother can take a job at a Beijing car factory. He befriends his new school’s maintenance man and kung fu master Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who educates his new pupil on the discipline of kung fu — there’s no actual karate in the movie! — while Dre teaches his master a thing or two about real courage.
At more than two hours, “The Karate Kid” is long, but director Harald Zwart realizes he has a budding superstar in Smith and a likeable old pro in Chan and allows the characters to take center stage.
It’s the anti-“Prince of Persia” — a summer movie that relies on wits and personality rather than brawn.