The Karate Kid

Swanner: If you look at the line-up of movies for this summer and you’re thinking everything is either a remake, based on a video game or a sequel … you’re pretty much correct. With that being said while seeing The Karate Kid last night I had to clean my mind from Daniel-san and see what Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) has to offer. Instead of Reseda California the story takes place in China but everything else is pretty much the same.

Judd: I haven’t seen The Karate Kid since it was released on VHS. The only thing I remember is the flying tiger kick; the chopsticks and the fly; wax on wax off, and Pat Morita doing hot hand massage which led to the happy ending. Other than those minor details, I don’t remember the film, so I went in with an open mind. This new version is very grand, pays homage to the original and last but not least it’s too goddamn long.

Swanner: At over 2 hours it was a bit long for an audience used to 90-minute movies. Even at our screening there were lots of kids heading to the lobby and coming back with loads of concession. Good for the theatre, bad for the audience. I did enjoy the movie but I think I would have liked it more with a few less training montages. I’m sure that would have cut out at least ten minutes. I thought the back drop of China was used very well and Jackie Chan did a good job as Mr. Han, the mentor of our young karate kid.

Judd: There was a little kid that was sitting behind me at the 1h 45m mark asked, “When is this movie going to be over?” I turned around and said, “That is a very good question.” The last two thirds of the movie was padded with at least three montages. Three. There is no need for three montages, ever. Two of them were nearly back to back. Will Smith produced this movie, and it makes me wonder if it hadn’t been for his son as the lead, would the movie have been shorter?

Swanner: Will Smith’s movies are never this long so I don’t think you can blame him for the running time. That would be the director, screenwriter or editor. I’m thinking it’s not the Editor (Joel Negro) who has been an assistant editor for 20 years…this is his first solo work but he’s got a terrific history. This is the writers (Christopher Murphy) first screenplay and the director’s (Harald Zwart) biggest titles to date. I’m thinking that might be what is overly wrong with the film…inexperience.

Judd: Inexperience or overzealousness, one of the two. The only other major problem I had with the movie is the shaky cam during the tournament. I understand that the kids aren’t real martial artists and that they were covering up their inexperience, but there are better, more artistic and aesthetically pleasing ways to camouflage an actor’s shortcomings than to shake the camera wildly. The cinematography was gorgeous up until that point in the film, which made the nausea inducing effect all the more apparent.

Swanner: I’m with you on the camera work. If I don’t know what’s happening, I lose interest. This is becoming a big problem in films. If the actor can’t pull off the stunt then these creative teams need to figure out a new way of filming it. In closing, I liked the movie and I think the folks looking forward to this remake are going to like it as well.

Judd: ½


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