The Karate Kid (2010) Movie Poster Image

The Karate Kid (2010)

(i)

 

Remake has new stars, new country, but same winning spirit.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: June 1, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 132 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As with the original, the Karate Kid 2010's message is supposed to be that violence doesn't solve problems and that pure martial arts are about peace and self reflection, not fighting or revenge. While there is a lot of  of violence, the overall theme of the film is a positive one.

Positive role models

It's very very obvious who's "good" and who's not. Mr. Han considers and discusses martial arts almost like yoga -- a sacred practice that should never be abused. Meanwhile, Master Li is a competitive zealot who espouses the importance of "No weakness, no mercy!"

Violence

The new Karate Kid boasts just as much bullying and martial-arts violence as the original, but these characters are middle-school aged, not high-schoolers. There are black eyes, cracked ribs, and broken bones. Plus, one scene features an adult against five eager-to-brawl tweens and teens.

Sex

Dre, who is 12, is obviously interested in Meiying, and they flirt with each other quite openly. After some hand holding, they play a dance video game, and during her hip-hop dance, he stares at her wide-eyed and tells her "You're dancing is HOT." They eventually share one brief closed-mouth kiss.

Language

Aside from the word "ass," which Karate Kid Jaden Smith says about four times, there's the occasional "stupid," "loser" and the like.

Consumerism

Since the movie takes place in China, there's not a whole lot of visible consumerism, but some brands that stand out include SpongeBob SquarePants (in Mandarin!), Volkswagen, and Air China.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, Mr. Han looks and acts drunk (a bottle of Chinese alcohol is shown).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Karate Kid remake is a faithful adaptation of the original but because the central character is 12 instead of 16, the language and romance is appropriately scaled back, even though the violence is a bit more startling. There's not much cursing (a few uses of the word "ass") or sexuality (mild flirting and one chaste kiss), but there are a whole lot of fight scenes. The Chinese bullies are pretty merciless both off and on the mat. They're even willing to do some unethical moves to secure a championship. But when it comes down to it, this is a friendship story between old and young, East and West, and that's a fine message for young kids.

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) moves with his widowed mother (Taraji P. Henson) from Detroit to Beijing, China, where he has to learn a new language, acclimate to a new school, and deal with a completely different culture. Early on, he shows an interest in Meiying, a pretty young violinist, but his flirtation brings him face-to-face with a crew of kung fu-practicing bullies who taunt Dre and beat him up pretty mercilessly at every possible turn. Like in the original, the bullies all take advanced martial arts at a scarily competitive kung fu studio led by Master Li (Rongguang Yu). Just when Dre's about to be attacked by six of the bullies, he's saved by his apartment complex's maintenance man, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who hesitantly agrees to train Dre for a kung fu competition where he'll face all of his nemeses. Their mentor-mentee relationship develops into strong friendship that helps both Dre and Mr. Han grow past their insecurity and pain.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Surprisingly, this remake is not only incredibly faithful to the original (except for the protagonist's age, the setting, and the style of martial art), but also incredibly entertaining. Viewers are sure to clap and hoot throughout many, many scenes. What makes the kung fu reimagining work is the stellar performances by Smith, who channels his father Will's intensity and charm, and Chan, who finally seems in his element and gets to show some dramatic acting skills. They may not have some of the humorous exchanges (or lines) that made Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita so lovable, but their friendship is believable and strong enough to carry the story.

The movie, even with its unncessarily long run time of nearly two and a half hours, proves that Smith is a natural-born entertainer, which isn't surprising considering he's basically Hollywood royalty. He may have initially gotten the part because of his parents, but he's funny, at ease, and can even nail tween angst. The rapport between Smith and Henson as mother-and-son is realistic, and his flirtation with Meiying is adorable. The antagonists are perfectly played (at last, Asian boys aren't portrayed as geeky!), and Master Li is a slick, Chinese version of John Kreese's "No mercy!"-spewing Sensei. While it's unlikely that Chan's "take off the jacket/put it up" bit will become the cultural touchstone that "wax on!/wax off!" was, the spirit of the original -- the triumph of a multi-generational, multi-cultural friendship -- makes this underdog story hard to resist.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this is ultimately a fish-out-of-water story. How is Dre even more of an outsider than the original's Daniel? What are the cultural differences that make it difficult for Dre to fit in? Do outsiders always meet with bullying, or are there ways to make it easier to get along?

  • What do Dre and Mr. Han teach each other? Is it believable that an older man and a 12-year-old would become best friends?

  • While the first Karate Kid dealt with class, this one subtly deals with race and culture. How does Dre's different background affect his ability to fit in? Why? Did the movie challenge or reinforce any stereotypes? Kids: How do you treat people from different backgrounds or those who are new in town?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 11, 2010
DVD release date:October 5, 2010
Cast:Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson
Director:Harald Zwart
Studio:Columbia Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:132 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:bullying, martial arts action violence and mild language

This review of The Karate Kid (2010) was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 11 year old Written byFanner50 June 12, 2010

12+ to me.

Too violent for 9yo. I rate as more appropriate for 12 to 13+. There is an element of sadism in the violence between the children. It seems odd to watch children fighting, anyway. My kid is 11 and takes karate, so I am okay with martial arts. There is something dark about this movie. The fighting isn't sparring, it is brutal. The mom figure is well-meaning, but essentially clueless while she watches her son get the tar beat out of him. Not a role-model to follow. This borders on PG-13. On the up side, Jackie Chan give the performance of his career. The subtle product placement here is the country of China, which is portrayed as a big village and a dramatic landscape tourist destination.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byjhartsock81 April 12, 2011
"new" Karate kid spits out a curse. Was not needed and takes away from a good family film. Over all almost as good as the first. Almost...
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 5 and 8 year old Written byblissful June 14, 2010

Good for our mature 5 yr old boy; Perfect for our 8 yr old boy

Our 8 year old boy is taking Kid's Karate and our 5 and a half year old boy is taking Lil' Dragons Karate. Yes, this movie had some violence in it, but you have to expect that when the movie is about a young boy learning to defend himself from bullies. The important thing is that violence was not glorified, and the consistent message was that the kids being taught "no mercy" had a bad teacher. There's one line where Dre (the main character) tells his mom he is going to learn Kung Fu, and she says, "I don't want you fighting" and he replies, "Mom, Kung Fu is not about fighting. It's about learning to make peace with your enemies." The movie has a very clear message that martial arts are about respect, honor, defense ONLY WHEN NECESSARY, and making peace with your enemies. There is nothing gratuitous about the violence in this movie. It's certainly not for all kids, but we felt very comfortable with our 5 year old boy seeing it, because he is that rare 5 year old who understands the subtlety of when it is appropriate to use martial arts and when it's not. I think for some 5 year olds it would be iffy. The boy says, "Kick @$$" but he is scolded for it when he says it, so it's not too bad. Our kids knew they'd better not repeat it. Overall, we were VERY pleased with the message of this movie: Focus, respect, honor, and a kid slowly becoming aware that the world doesn't revolve around him and learning empathy for others. This was very well done. Our kids loved it, and we loved it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models

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