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Movie Review

The Karate Kid also known as “Kung Fu Kid,” “Best Kid,” “Karate Kid”

MPAA Rating: PG for bullying, martial arts action violence and some mild language.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Teens Family Adults
Action, Family, Sports, Drama, Remake
2 hr. 6 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
June 11, 2010 (wide—3,400+ theaters)
DVD: October 5, 2010
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Relevant Issues
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FEAR, Anxiety and Worry… What does the Bible say? Answer

Featuring: Jaden Smith (Dre Parker), Jackie Chan (Mr. Han), Taraji P. Henson (Mom), Tess Liu (History Teacher), Harry Van Gorkum (Music Teacher—uncredited)
Director: Harald Zwart—“The Pink Panther 2” (2009), “Agent Cody Banks” (2003)
Producer: Columbia Pictures, China Film Group, Jerry Weintraub Productions, Overbrook Entertainment, Susan Ekins, Sanping Han, James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Han San Ping, Will Smith, Solon So, Ken Stovitz, Jerry Weintraub, Dany Wolf
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures

Remake of “The Karate Kid” (1984)

School’s out and summer brings us to what movie goers deem: Blockbuster Summer. Many films have already gotten us off the ground including a couple of terrific sequels and re-makes like Shrek 3 and “Robin Hood.” The Karate Kid comes close at their heels, but making comparisons to the 1984 Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita classic may blind you to the virtues of the new, extremely pleasing version of the archetypal tale of mentor and protégé, emotionally scared man and bullied boy story, in this 2010 version played by Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

Director Harold Zwart and Producer Will Smith coupled with writer Christopher Murphy have given us not just a sequel but a new story based on the familiar theme. 2010’s Karate Kid has the excitement, humor, warmth, and themes of friendship, maturity, and overcoming adversity, I was relieved to find, left intact from the original. Better still, there’s no sense that any of it has been cheapened or simplified for the sake of appealing to a mass audience.

12 year old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith), leaves Detroit for China a few years after the death of his father. His Mom, Sherry (Taraji P. Henson) who works for a car manufacturing company, has been transferred and wants to make a new life for them. She tries hard to inspire Dre with how exciting living in a new country will be and how much the experience will teach them. But from the very beginning Dre becomes more and more aware of just how much he does not fit into his new surroundings. Not just blending with a new home and a new school, but the language and deeply embedded customs. Although most people are very helpful and he makes a new friend in his apartment building, there are other kids and even grown ups who are not so obliging.

This is where the story line is similar to the original as Dre meets a shy girl named Mei Ying (Wenwen Han) with a sweet smile and who plays violin that Dre wants so much to impress. Dre also has to find a way to defend himself from Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) and his band of Kung Fu fisted bullies who don’t like him, simply because he is different. The bullies chase him down relentlessly, until one day after school Dre is trapped in an alley unable to defend himself against their Kung Fu skills, and the quiet loner of a maintenance man from Dre’s apartment building, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), appears and defends him using his own fantastic Kung Fu skills. At this point, Dre asks for Mr. Han’s help to defend himself against the bullies who are making his life miserable.

Han, although hesitant, decides to help Dre, but not in the way Dre had expected. Han first has to instill a sense of control, direction and honor within Dre before he can teach him the actual skills of true Kung Fu. The story finally comes full circle as we watch Dre be molded from a skinny, wimpy kid into a confident, respectful and well toned athlete. Dre learns that Kung Fu is a way of life, not just a martial art. That being still and doing nothing are two very different things. There is a time to act and a time to step away. He learns it is not enough just to know the moves and beat an adversary, one must know it is not a matter of win or lose, it is to live respectfully, control oneself and not others, and to treat others with the honor and decency you would expect back from them.

“The Karate Kid” is rated PG for realistic depictions of bullying, martial arts action which translates into violence and some mild language that are: a couple references to kicking a**, and the phrase ‘damn it.’ There is a running joke about some foods giving you ‘gas’ also and, of course, kids will love that. There is no sex at all. The two sweethearts of this film are after all 12 years old, but love’s first kiss is depicted as Dre and Mei Ying innocently kiss behind a screen at the SheShe Festival.

The violence factor here is strong, as this is a film based around the act of martial arts. The Red Dragons, a Kung Fu group lead by the evil Master Li (Rongguang Yu), are shown kicking, crunching, punching, and breaking the bones of their victims. Almost every martial art sequence in this film is very realistic, no doubt to show that martial arts are serious business and must be respected, but on that note, parents may want to consider the violence meter before taking young kids below the age of 10 to this film. The one scene where Mr. Han defends Dre from the bullies is done in a none abusive, almost comical way, to prove the point that martial arts can be used to defend without going for the kill. Respect of your assailant at all times. Never lose focus and control is the true essence of Kung Fu.

The finale where Dre is pitted against his adversary, Cheng, is very brutal at points and I felt it unrealistic for Sherry Parker, Dre’s Mom, NOT to stop the whole thing. What Mom would sit in the bleachers at an event and watch her 12 year old son’s leg be near broke, his face punched in and a Doctor say he must not continue on, and NOT say “enough”? Dre wins in the end, as we all know from the original film, but as this Karate Kid is more realistic in tone, I felt the way some of the characters interacted a little off the mark.

The spiritual aspect of this film, obviously is not Christian. It is based around the Chi and the belief that we all have a power from within. This includes a combination of of Confucianism and Taoism and of Buddhism, all practiced in China. Mr Han and Dre go on many journeys during his training. To the Great Wall, The Forbidden City, mystic Temples and to Mr Han’s childhood training place, the Great Well where a fountain is housed with water believed if drank, will make it so nothing can defeat you. Mr. Han teaches Dre that Kung Fu lives in how we treat others. Kung Fu is everything in life, and in how we do everything.

The values embraced within the film’s theme are not bad ones, they for the most part are in line with the principles we as Christians strive to teach our children, values and morals even Jesus teaches us, like love they neighbor, respect those in authority, honor your parents, truth in friendships, personal integrity, but it must be said that the spiritual aspect of this film is definitely Eastern in nature. If that is a concern to parents taking their families to see The Karate Kid, please be sure to sit down with them before you attend this movie, and make sure they know and can discern the difference between Eastern mysticism and Christianity.

Jackie Chan delivers one of his best performances ever as he not just reprises the role of mentor and father figure, originally played by Pat Morita, but brings it to a new level of sensibility. “The Karate Kid” (2010) is a realistic often physically brutal tale of what friendships, respect, courage and determination can accomplish. Although a more apt title would be “The Kung Fu Kid,” as the real martial art used in this story was not Karate, I commend the writers and director along with the beautifully talented Jaden Smith for making an old story new again while keeping the lessons and final moral of the original story.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Neutral—The fighting scenes were pretty intense for 12 year olds, and I would strongly recommend parent participation in this movie. It would not be appropriate for children under 8.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Ann, age 39 (USA)
Positive—I saw this movie the day it came out. The language in this movie is low; they say a** 3 times and one d****, but, be side all that, it was good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Ethan, age 48 (USA)
Positive—I have little difference with the reviewer’s comments, except to say that, while overall enjoyable, it did drag a bit at times, and the “chi” and “yin/yang” “spirituality” bits could have been drastically curtailed, which, besides making it less objectionable on a spiritual basis, would also have made the story move along more briskly.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jeremy Klein, age 55 (USA)
Positive—Parents, no doubt you’ve already seen the 1984 version of this film. This one is better in my opinion. There ARE all of the questionable/offensive things that the reviewer listed (movie isn’t Christian, a few foul words, etc.), however, the film is much cleaner than the original, and there are enough pieces of the old film playfully twisted into the new one that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud as your kids stare at you with embarrassment. I assume the cleaner version of the movie is because the target audience is 12 years old rather than 17 years old.

The fights are very realistic, though, so use extreme caution when taking young children. There were a LOT of little ones in the audience with me today (including my 4 year old). Some had to leave the theater during fight scenes. My son was well prepared for the level of bullying/fighting that would be in the movie. He hid his eyes a few times, but oddly enough, the only time he cried was the triumphant final scene.

Overall, it’s a great movie that has a lesson in respect for all and strength of your inner self.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Chrystal, age 33 (USA)
Positive—This is a beautifully executed film. It has positive lessons, interesting footage of landscapes unique to China, and fabulous performances by the principal players.

There were some brutal fight scenes, but not too brutal for the fairly young audience that was in the theater with me. There was enough humor to balance off some of the intense scenes, and a sweet love connection between Jaden Smith’s character, Dre, and the lovely girl who plays the violin. Jaiden Smith’s performance was very professional—well nuanced, with good pacing, good deliverance. I was impressed.

The culture depicted is the darkness without Jesus Christ. However, the story is positive and Dre and his mentor make a firm and humane stand against evil bullies. This movie is good for both children and adults alike. There was lots of laughter, mostly by adults, and we all applauded at the end. Very much a Hollywood feature film, with soaring music to denote emotions and attractive actors, sweeping vistas, etc, but entirely interesting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Halyna Barannik, age 64 (USA)
Positive—I’m going to just write a review that as a mom, these are just some of the details I would want to know about. The movie is pretty long, and I caught myself yawning a few times and kept shifting in my seat during the last hour. It’s 2.5 hrs long I think.

I counted the use of the a** word twice. Used by Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) but was pleased that Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) quickly warned not to use that language to which Dre did obey. “Damn” was used a few times and apparently that was okay. There is a kiss between Dre and the little girl he likes named Mei Ying. It wasn’t too inappropriate in that it wasn’t a passionate kiss between the two 12 yr olds. It looked how a first kiss would look. There were a few “awws” in the theater, but my goodness these are little kids kissing. There is a scene where I think the two of them skipped school. They do run off to a video arcade where she plays a dance game and dances for Dre in a very provocative way. He then comments to her that she dances like an American.

Two things I noticed in comparing the original Karate Kid and the 2010 version.

***POTENTIAL SPOILER BELOW*** Original: First, during the tournament at the end of the movie, when Daniel Larussos opponents from the Cobra team try to injure him during a match, the crowd/audience boo loudly for playing dirty. Second, when Daniel does get hurt his mom, girlfriend, and even Mr. Miyagi if I remember, rush onto the mat out of concern. New version: When the other side plays dirty during the match the crowd/audience just loves it and cheers. And also unlike the first movie, no one rushes to Dre when he’s hurt…no one. He’s left there on the mat in pain unable to get up. After 4 or 5 attempts and what seemed like forever, he then manages to get to his feet.

If I could do it all over again, would I choose to see this movie with my 14 yr. old and 13 yr. old niece? I guess I would. Always talk to your kids about what you found good and for sure what you found wrong.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Sherri, age 34 (USA)
Positive—As a card-carrying Karate Kid fan from the 80s, I was looking forward to this film for months. Overall, it was a well-done, updated version. The dialogue ran so close to the original at times that I knew the lines before they were spoken.

The violence is heavier, the language is a bit courser, and the side-stories take up a lot of time. The fact that our “karate kid” is only 12 and not 16 as before, makes the friendship/love story between he and the young girl awkward and a little inappropriate. My 13 year old son said that it was unnecessary. I know that Hollywood likes to push relationships younger and younger, but Jaden Smith looks even younger than 12, making it all the more disturbing.

I give it an “average” rating and look forward to watching my ole' 80’s version when I see it on tv.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Diana O, age 41 (USA)
Positive—I’ll be honest, when I first read of “The Karate Kid” being remade, I thought “Oh, no. Here comes a needless update of a good, if not great, underdog story.” But when I read that Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Jackie Chan would be starring in the movie, I thought, “Maybe I will check this out.” I saw the film yesterday, and it’s even better than the original movie. Not only is there less profanity (the original had several s-words and a few uses of God’s name followed by a curse, and a scene where Daniel smokes a joint, whereas this movie only has three or four uses of the a-word), but several key roles are expanded and more plot development is given.

To add even more credibility, Robert Mark Kamen (who wrote the story for the original film) also wrote the story for this version, even paying tribute to the original movie via sly nods. The violence in this movie is bloodless, but intense. That and thematic elements (i.e., situations dealing with death) make this version a little intense for viewers younger than 10 years old. There is no misuse of God’s name in this version, which is refreshing, and there is, also, no sex.

I highly recommend this film. See the original, just to compare it to this version, but THIS Karate Kid crane kicks the original off the mat (though Pat Morita’s “Wax On, Wax Off” scene is truly memorable).

Jaden Smith is incredible (see him in “The Pursuit Of Happyness” alongside his father and you’ll see what I mean), as is the girl who plays his love interest. A sequel to this movie should definitely be made.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 24 (USA)
Positive—Growing up watching the original movie, I couldn’t wait to see this movie. I thought it was an awesome rendition. It was true to the original but yet different at the same time. I feel that the review for this was a little overboard. The references to Eastern Mysticism were minimal with the reference of the “Chi” and the violence was martial arts violence. I took my 6 year old son and did not see a problem.

There were many positive points to take away from this movie about honor, respect, sportsmanship, kindness and friendship. The only profanity was three (I think) a** words which any child should know not to say but I am sure have heard worse from TV and recent animated movies. While I did not think it (or any) movie was worth the $36 it costs me and my family to see, I did enjoy it and recommend especially if you are a fan of the original.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mike Florant, age 39 (USA)
Positive—THE KARATE KID remake is an equivalent to it’s 1984 predecessor. Both films have its strengths and quirks and each remains true to its time. In the original, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), our fun loving teacher even though he had a tragic past made memorable teachings such as “wax on, wax off.” A technique that is not only helpful with his karate skill but if Daniel San (Ralph Macchio) never did best his bullies, the kid had some handy skill in the real world.

Whilst, Mr. Han, Jackie Chan in an understated dramatic turn that infused a broken soul after said tragedy and the humor of the wise old master is all gone but nonetheless a powerful one. The repetitious technique of jacket on, jacket off is not as memorable but does show that patience is a virtue, beside this Shaw Dre (Jaden Smith) is not only not learning karate but kung fu, he actually do get real training in the physicality of the martial arts which he really needed to face such a great opposing force.

This kiddie version is somewhat more brutalizing than it’s predecessor in its bullies and matches but manages to make us believe that some remake can be good even when it isn’t the best.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Mang Yang, age 38 (USA)
Positive—I took my son to view the movie. He is a Christian, and he started training in karate at the age of 3½ years old he is now 8 years old. He enjoyed the movie and was able to understand what was right and what was wrong. It was a great teachable moment. The overall movie demonstrated the strength in human nature when pushed. We have to learn how to show our children the presense of God in a variety of settings not just church, and why we serve a living God in Jesus Christ. When the movie was over, I was able to share a deeper understanding of how and why we live as Christians.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—EAllen, age 44 (USA)
Positive—“The Karate Kid” remake is one of the best movies to come out this summer. …The movie pretty much follows the same storyline as the original, just in a different setting and with jokes on the fly swatting and “wax-on/wax-off.” Most of the negatives will stem from the very minor language, a brief kissing scene, and the Martial Arts action. Also, when Dre first arrives in China, he has a very bad attitude with his mother and helps one of his schoolmates sneak out of school; both points are needed to make the story work.

Some Christians will be turned off by the promotion of Taoism in the movie, but it is not presented in a religious way. As a Martial Artist who has been studying Kung Fu and Karate for many years, I was very impressed with this film. Most of the fighting movies today leave out the meaning of honor and humility, while this film promotes the true attributes of the Martial Arts. Bottom-line, while the movie probably should’ve been called “Kung Fu Kid,” I highly recommend this film!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jacob Airey, age 21 (USA)
Positive—I wasn’t sure what to expect with a “Karate Kid” re-make depicting a child I thought too young to play the part. Besides the fact that I believe Jaden is much too young to have a body with that much muscle development, I believe this was a good movie. There was a lot of violence and a few bad words, however, the use of a** was used as a teaching moment, because Mr. Han corrects Dre by telling him not to say that word. Dre actually listens and respects Mr. Han by correcting his language. How many kids do that these days?

One use of da**; it which really didn’t need to be in the film. The gas jokes were not juvenile. In fact, it was the first time I think I’ve ever heard comments on gas that I didn’t find offensive.

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My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Amy, age 35 (USA)
Neutral—This movie was very intresting and had lots of good messages about beating up bullies and fighting back, and I would have given this film 5 stars, yet there is some very disturbing content in which Jackie Chan’s character is having romantic relations with the boy and while these scenes were done in good taste. It’s just not my type of movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Jason Fergus, age 19 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—This karate kid is the best 2010 movie I have see so far! It is a fun family movie. Jaden smith is a great karate kid. This is the best Karate Kid they made!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Thomas B., age 11
Positive—This movie was a very good movie. I just saw it… I recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joseph, age 12 (USA)
Positive—Good morals, entertaining, and funny. Mentions of “gas” but not incredibly inappropriate. Awesome sequences of martial arts violence—these may bother younger viewers. My 10-year-old friend was sensitive to this and, although she enjoyed the movie, she closed her eyes during the final battle scene.

Some hokey chi-ness, sadly. Yin yangs are everywhere, a woman uses chi to control a snake, Dre uses chi to move an enemy’s head with his own, and Mr. Han the kung fu teacher uses “ancient Chinese healing” to turn fire blue and heal Dre with it. All minor, but the movie could have done without out it. Dre likes a Chinese girl, and they share a kiss, but NO SEXUAL CONTENT! Yes! However, Dre’s mother makes mention of that she accidentally entered the Men’s Room instead of the Women’s Room and an elderly man “thought I was going to give him a little treat.” Short, though.

Overall, Dre learns respect and only defends himself. Aggression is shown as wrong. But be aware that kung fu is depicted as a lifestyle, and not all elements of this lifestyle are appropriate for one who has chosen to take the narrow path to heaven and to Christ.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Laura, age nearly 13 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie! It had everything: Action, suspense, emotion, and even a bit of romance.

You might wanna think about some stuff before taking your kids to see it. There was quite a few fighting scenes that could scare young children. There was one kiss between Dre and Mei Ying. Also There was one use of D******, three or four of A**, and one use of God’s name. I really don’t understand why Hollywood has to ruin movies with language.

Other than that, it was very good and entertaining!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jessica, age 15 (USA)
Positive—This was a very good movie. I went to see this with my mom and 9 year old brother, and it was amazing, good acting. Except for cussing, but then again its PG, not G; it’s most likely to happen, so, anyways, I guess what I’m trying to say is this was an overall good movie for kids over the age of 7.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Parker, age 13 (USA)