Tuesday, December 01, 2009


I've known for a while now (and the rage has been simmering in me) that The Karate Kid, one of my favorite VHS tapes from childhood and the reason I fell in love with Elisabeth Shue at a very young age, is being remade. Jaden Smith (son of Will) is taking the role of the titular kid, and Jackie Chan (yep) has inherited the Mr. Miyagi role (that originally got Pat Morita an Oscar nomination). If you haven't seen the so-cheesy-but-so-lovable 80s flick, familiarize yourself with the trailer below. It basically tells you the whole movie.

What kept me not-so-angry, though, was that the remake was to be titled The Kung Fu Kid. That's really all I need, so it won't share much of a shorthand reference with the original in conversation (for example, if I say I'm a fan of the Pink Panther movies, people not as into old Peter Sellers movies will instantly think Steve Martin garbage. Incidentally, this remake of Karate Kid is being directed by Harald Zwart, hack director of the Pink Panther remake's sequel. Yikes.)

Unfortunately, Slashfilm just posted 4 officially released photos from the remake, and the news that it now bears the original title of The Karate Kid, as well as a plot synopsis. One of these pictures and the synopsis follow:

"Jaden Smith plays Dre, a skateboarding video game buff who is forced to move to China after his single mother (Taraji P. Henson) is forced to transfer to China for work. Of course, unable to speak Chinese, Dre finds it hard to settle in, and gets beat up by the local bully. Jackie Chan plays Mr. Han (the Mr. Miyagi character), a maintenance man who spots Dre’s black-eye and offers to teach him both martial arts and Chinese, so he can defend against the students of Li Quan Ha’s Fighting dragon school of Kung-Fu."

Yes, that's a scene taking place on the Great Wall of China. My own personal bias aside (although I'd like to ask one more time why they're still calling it The Karate Kid when the story bears more of a resemblance to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) I'll pose this one really nerdy but legitimate complaint: Why the fuck does it take place in China? I ask this question mostly because it takes about five seconds of wikipedia research to learn that Karate is from Japan. Did nobody look into this during pre-production? I'm assuming they don't care and they just want whatever sales-boost they can get from association with the original movie (though I can't imagine any kids today care, which is not a complaint because god knows I didn't care about 25-year-old movies as a kid).

What I'm getting at is that it doesn't even make any sense to call this movie The Karate Kid, especially after changing it back from The Kung Fu Kid (and five more seconds of wikipedia research tells me Kung Fu is a term for Chinese martial arts, so if your movie's about a kid learning to fight in China... dude, just call it the The Kung Fu Kid.)

Seriously, Hollywood, go make your bad movie, but don't bring my childhood into this. It won't actually affect me much at all, but, c'mon, it's the little things.


Just kidding. Apparently I wasn't the only one uncomfortable with the announcement of Adrien Brody headlining the new Predator movie (now titled Predators. I see what they did there.) I'm honestly a fan of Brody as an actor (he's awesome in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam) but I just don't think he's right for a testosterone-fest on par with the original Predator. I'll sum up my original post with this sweet picture I made for it originally:

After noticing all of the raised eyebrows in response to his casting, director Nimrod Antal (seriously?) talked to IGN.com:

"He plays a mercenary in the film and if you look at the guys in Iraq and Afghanistan today, they're not 'yolked-out' Schwarzenegger-looking guys. They're all very wiry and thin guys, and I think it's going to play well."

I'd like to take this opportunity to respond to Antal's comment. Nimrod (can I call you Nimrod?), of course real mercenaries don't look like five-time Mr. Universe, seven-time Mr. Olympia champion bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. What I think you're not grasping here is that this is a fucking movie where men fight aliens. There's an important divide between entertainment and reality. One could argue that realistic casting would have worked for another sci-fi movie called Pretty Woman, in which a rich socialite falls in love with a filthy hooker (played by Julia Roberts). Julia Roberts looks nothing like an actual prostitute, but she worked for the romantic comedy because she is attractive. Real prostitutes are generally not very attractive.

To illustrate my point, I made another picture:

You see what I'm saying here. You're making Predator, sir. Not The Hurt Locker. This isn't a drama, this is fantasy - it's escapism in the form of sci-fi action. I'll leave you with an example of the approach that made the original film so good.