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Simply enjoy this Karate Kid

By Elvis D Silva
June 11, 2010 10:09 IST
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The beloved cinema of our childhood is being hijacked. Hollywood is remaking way too many movies (and television shows) that an entire generation grew up on.

What are we going to do about it, did you ask? We are going to deal with it.

This is the age of familiarity and though early evidence indicates that audiences are contemptuous of this year's crop of remakes, rehashes and franchise extensions, it remains to be seen if Hollywood will actually explore originality in storytelling or whether it will continue to regurgitate product in their continued quest to extract hard-earned money from the entertainment-seeking masses.

This week, the world will bear witness to the awesomeness that is the next generation of the Smith clan. Will and Jada's son Jaden takes on the mantle of the Karate Kid and in doing so perhaps permanently consigns the actor Ralph Macchio to footnote status in cinematic history.

Of course this being the beginning of a new decade in the twenty-first century, a movie is no longer just a movie, it is a brand building exercise.

So though this is the story of an African-American kid whose single mother relocates them to China where he learns kung-fu, this film is called The Karate Kid because that movie series has brand recall. Are you exhausted yet? I know I am.

So to clarify, the boy learns kung-fu (not karate) and his teacher is not a sweet but deadly little Japanese man. No in this case, since the Smiths want nothing but the best for their son (who is clearly being groomed to take over the mantle of Biggest Movie Star In The World from his father) Jackie Chan plays the boy's mentor and teacher.

Now once we've accepted that this is a brand building exercise it becomes easier to settle into the actual proceedings of the film.

The movie tells a straightforward tale of the proverbial 'fish out of water'. Young Mr. Smith exonerates himself very well in his first outing as a leading (young) man and the always entertaining Mr Chan does a good job of providing the structure the young buck needs to achieve his goals.

What is slightly troubling about this movie however is the fact that these children are fighting like this at all.

It doesn't speak highly of the kind of message the parents of these (and other) young actors seem to be sending when they permit their wards to appear in films that accept this level of violence in a child's life. It is also not that cute that the twelve-year-old leading man has a love interest.

But perhaps this is the future. Maybe we are just meant to remind ourselves that this is only a movie and hope that all the kids who will be dragging their parents into movie theatres to watch this flick aren't inspired to drop-kick someone just for fun.

So go watch this movie for Jackie Chan's restraint, Jaden Smith's budding star power and the interestingly staged action sequences. Because really, this might be your best bet for popcorn entertainment this weekend.

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Elvis D Silva in Mumbai