Friday, 18 June 2010

Karate Kid does kung fu: 2010 remake courts China

Karate Kid stars Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan as kung fu master
So there I am in a nice frock and scrubbed up a treat, and the actual event only takes three minutes. A scenario familiar to many of us laydees.

Monday's appearance on the Sky News programme, where I was expected to inject wit and knowledge into a round-up of breaking news, was fun but over in a trice. However, I did loads of research (I actually read stuff) and so I am recycling like the environmentally-friendly blogger wot I yam and sharing it here with you.

The chief thing to exercise my noggin was the remake of The Karate Kid taking a staggering $56 million in its opening weekend in the States, nearly double that of the runner up, The A Team.

Far be it from me to review something I have not yet seen. But as the nice Fujianese lady who services our pub hadn't yet stocked up on DVDs of this new release (kids, don't try this at home), you'll have to make do with a first impressions preview that I gleaned from the trailers on YouTube.

I can't understand why little Jaden Smith (as Dre Parker) has been getting such a walloping on the net. Already a veteran of movies The Pursuit Of Happyness and The Day The Earth Stood Still, he knows his cute acting chops. This boy doesn't just cry to order, he can probably ask the director to nominate which eye to do it from. Jaden must have made his parents very proud, especially as the parents in question are Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Will is also the proud producer of the much-moolah generating Karate Kid. A veritable dynasty of blockbuster stars.

In the trailer Jaden looks cute as a button and brought a lump to my throat (no, not used food!) as this little underpuppy, out of his own safe US home environment, has to vanquish the Chinese bullies who are making his life such a misery. Whacks on, whacks off.

Hey, do I spot a schtonking great metaphor in there? Poor iddle Barry O'Bama learning to defend himself against overwhelming odds as the new generation of Chinese whup his ass while they take over world Number One superpower status.

Japanese Mr Miyagi from the original is now transformed into Chinese Mr Han (appealing to the ticket-purchasing pride of several hundred million Han Chinese), representing older Chinese values. The kindly mentor is played by loveable Jackie Chan who trains up the kid in kung-fu. And yet ... the movie is STILL called the Karate Kid. Karate? A Japanese martial art? What's the betting it gets retitled for the Chinese market?

This is basically a retelling of the Wing Chun story which I played out in my own solo show, Suzy Wrong— Human Cannon, when I took it to Edinburgh in the mid 90s. Tiny Wing Chun, a four-foot-something girl, has to defend herself from the local bully and a certain fate worse than death. She is aided by Ng Mui, a buddhist nun, who has spent her solitary bag-lady life observing the animals, and devises a kung-fu form drawn from a fight she sees between crane and a snake. I myself have similarly learnt from the occasional back-garden pigeon rucks with the local cat population, so if you see me pooing myself and shedding clothes (not necessarily in that order), you know I'm up for a fight.


VenerableSage said...

Well spoke, Madammmmm.

If you said 'Wing Chun' to most people, they wouldn't know whether to adopt a crane stance or order it over noodles.

Charlotte Gore said...

What???!!! The Karate Kid goes to China, is trained in Chinese martial arts and it's still called the Karate Kid?

I guess it's all just the same thing, right? Sheesh.

Gwei Mui said...

Oh I'm kinda looking forward to this one - art imitating life perchance. :)

Madam Miaow said...

Apparently, they have the mother saying, "Kung-fu, karate? What's the difference?" Which is not unlike saying, "You all look the same."

But I suppose the device is effective for keeping the franchise in its own lameass way. said...

In an interview with Coming Soon, the director says:

"from the beginning it was gonna be "The Karate Kid," then we played around with "The Kung Fu Kid" for a little while there, but it always made sense in the movie to call it "The Karate Kid" because he trains karate in the scene where he is looking at his old television. We even had a line in there where the kids are sort of teasing him, "Oh look, he wants to do karate. It's the Karate Kid." It's in there. It's in the DNA of the movie, so once you see the movie, you don't question that anymore. Mom also says, "Don't you like that karate class?" He goes, "It's not karate, Mom." Yeah, the people in the movie know the difference between karate and kung fu, and that makes perfect sense for me. Of course, "The Karate Kid", we are honoring that story, so to me it really wouldn't make sense to call it anything else."

Yin said...

Well, Jaden smith is marketable, jackie chan is, china is. LOL

I see the point in a remake, not sure if the plotline will be great though.

Madam Miaow said...

Thanks for finding the interview quote, Almost Witty.

The television scene where Jaden is copying the boy in the movie sounds like a tacked on bit of rationalisation to me. But I can see why they needed to hold onto the lineage of a successful movie and create a franchise. (Although, if they'd gone with The Kung-Fu Kid, they could have followed it up with The Capoeira Kid, etc.)

Yin, I assume the plot will be standard formula. But the trailer made it all look very effective, emotionally.