The Karate Kid 2010: Same, same? No, no!

"Johnny! Got that number rolled?"

When I first saw The Karate Kid, I wasn't yet old enough to understand what was happening in Johnny's toilet stall. But this is one of those movies you can watch over and over and extract some new meaning every time. It's a classic--a classic coming-of-age story, a classic bullied-confronting-bully tale, and a classic story about a boy and his mentor. Maybe that's what inspired a couple of producers to raid the chest of classic 80s films and slap the name The Karate Kid on a completely unnecessary new version. The movie isn't out yet, but the trailers are all over the web and, well, this is about principle.

On the surface, the 2010 version of The Karate Kid looks like it tries to be faithful to the 1984 version we all know and love. The basic plot is the same: adolescent boy and his mother move to a new city; boy falls for girl; boy's affection for girl draws wrath of bully; mentor-to-be protects boy from bullies; mentor teaches boy how to defend himself and take down the bullies; boy defeats bullies, gets girl. Here, instead of the lovable maintenance man and gardener Pat Morita (RIP) we get maintenance man Jackie Chan; instead of Ralph Macchio's Danny LaRusso, the Jersey boy in LA, we get Will Smith's son as Dre, the Detroit boy in Beijing; and instead of karate we get kung fu.

That last point is non-trivial. Producers struggled with the title, vacillating between "The Kung Fu Kid" and "The Karate Kid," but neither title makes it okay. Karate and kung fu are not, as Mr. Miyagi would say, "Same, same." This comes across more like "all look same." Karate has its roots in Chinese kung fu, but the martial art has evolved over a really, really long time and is not the same, neither culturally nor in practice. Japanese and Chinese cultures are not interchangeable yet the toss-up between film names would make it seem that way, at least as far as Hollywood's marketing arm is concerned.

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The Karate Kid has three sequels: Part II, where Daniel-san goes to Japan; Part III, which should really be called "The Revenge of the Cobra Kai"; and "The Next Karate Kid," where Hilary Swank replaces Ralph Macchio as Miyagi's new student. Some or all of these may have sucked (I actually love Part II), but at least they involve karate, not kung fu, and, more importantly, Mr. Miyagi. Miyagi is essential to The Karate Kid franchise, and while Jackie Chan is awesome, he's no Pat Morita. Sometimes things should just die with the actors who've made them what they are. Maybe Will Smith always wanted to play Daniel-san but, realizing he is far too old, took the opportunity to thrust his son into the fantasy role. Since Pat Morita is gone, Jackie Chan will have to do. Jackie Chan deserves better than this.

Maybe this is meant to be an homage, you say, like a musician covering a song of written by one of his heroes. Surely the scene in the trailer with Chan catching flies with chopsticks and "You're the Best Around" playing in the background is a shout out to the original. But it's pretty lame and besides: what's wrong with the original? Do some of the folks down there in Hollywood have calendar reminders set for when great movies reach a certain age, like when wine has reached the perfect vintage and it's time to pop it open? Do I need to worry that a remake of The Goonies is next, especially since it came out the year after The Karate Kid? Imagine it, trust fund babies using their iPhones to find a sunken sailboat in a West Coast marina!

Between The Crazies, Clash of the Titans, The Karate Kid, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and "We Are the World" (don't get me started on that debacle, or the rumored "Rashomon 2010"), this is shaping up to to be the year of the remake. The Karate Kid can't possibly be as wretched as the hyper-auto-tuned "We Are the World" remake, but it's certainly not going to sweep the original, at least not sentimentally. Maybe Hollywood needs Johnny to hurry up with that number so they can get some creativity flowing.


  1. “its not the same so its bad.”
    Get over it, movies are a temporal medium, like books that are constantly remixed after a certain time so that the theme can appeal to the new generations, the older movies were dated so they are trying to make new fans of the same type of feeling and sensation that first movie gave you, you remind me of a friend of mine that was extremely pissed off that kids nowadays were watching Spongebob and Batman brave and bold when Animaniacs and Batman Tas had served him perfectly fine.

    1. Good post. I think we’ve been in a cultural vacuum since about ’92. Things are coming around though – groups like The Killers and The Strokes – movies like Avatar – all with that ’80’s vibe that was so electric. We need to leave the remakes in the dustbin that is history.

    2. “Get over it, movies are a temporal medium, like books that are constantly remixed”

      Books are remixed? What are you talking about? I don’t see anyone releasing a remix of Anna Karenina.

  2. Just the casting makes this seem like a travesty, your notes on the cultural insensitivity really make me less inclined to see it, despite being in the thick of the original Karate Kid generation.

    Any links to the Rashomon2010 article that isn’t behind a subscription wall? There’s a long history of Kurosawa remakes that don’t suck, so I’m curious about that.

    1. According to, Rashomon 2010 has “been in development” for two years.

      Might never happen (please)

  3. “wax on, wax off” trademarked/copyrighted? put on your jacket is just too clumsy…

    sorry, but I’ll give this a miss… might pick it up on DVD only when it gets discounted down to say £3.00 or ex-rental… no way I’m gonna pay full whack first release £12.99 for it…

  4. Remakes are always going to happen. Even if the material isn’t stale. Let’s face it, you can never replace the Rat Pack. The idea that some group of overpaid whiny actors would even be able to pull off Oceans Eleven with any amount of success or entertainment value is a ridiculous idea.

    This one feels like it will be at best a popcorn flick and could go terribly awry, but I like watching Jackie Chan to fun stunts.

    As far as the culture annoyances go. As long as they give what he’s learning the right name in the feature itself. The title nastiness can slide a bit.

  5. Showing how much people have actually looked into the story. It is variously called Kung Fu kid and various other names in other countries. The actual descriptions says that Tre knows a little Karate and gets his ass handed to him by the local kung fu masters. So Mr. Han helps him become better acquainted with the one-ness of the universe.

    If this was about Karate in China the local ministry would never have allowed it to be shown in China (which it was released there last month or so)… They don’t tolerate dilution of Chinese mythos and hate hollywood.. so my guess is it must be pretty true or over the top on Kung Fu. Besides that lets face it, the VAST majority of American’s cannot tell the difference between Kung Fu, Karate, Kendo or hell even Capoeira for that matter. Every movie I have seen with it the people in the audience called it “Dancing Karate”… So instead of upping your panties to twist ratio maybe you should look into it instead of crying that someone stomped on your 1980’s childhood.

  6. Although I agree that the title should be more like “The Kung Fu Kid,” there really was no karate in the original movies. Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio had no experience and it was painfully obvious. It worked as a coming of age movie but as someone who watched and grew up with martial artists, the Karate was laughable. At least Jackie Chan’s movie martial arts moves are based on real moves.

  7. “Back in my day, we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow to school and fight bears off with our trapper-keepers.”

    Unclench a little. Change, good and bad, is going to keep coming whether you yell or not.

    1. nothing you say or do will ever make this movie ok. This movie is swill pure and simple. As long as people keep pumping money into mindless drivel producers will keep finding ways to produce it. Remakes are fine – I actually like remakes in some regards… it’s remakes that exploit their source material without adding anything of artistic merit to that source material that bother me.

  8. I recommend this post at The Onion A.V. Club as a companion piece. As for this movie, I cannot begin to express how much I HATE it’s mere existence. I sincerely hope that it fails so miserably at the box office, as to put second thoughts on every Hollywood person involved in “remakes” and “reimaginings”. This creative bankruptcy is a big reason why I don’t give a fuck about or have sympathy for the sinking movie industry; the sooner it burns and gets replaced by something else, the better.

    1. Geez, gATO, do you also hate Shakespeare for remaking Saxo Grammaticus’s Vita Amlethi as Hamlet?

  9. Sorry, but this post sounds like a “you kids and your damn rock music!” screed. I loved the original, have shared it with my kids, but am quite excited about the remake/reboot/reinterpretation. Don’t care if it’s kung fu or karate, don’t care if it’s not Mr. Miyagi – in fact, I think I’d probably be crankier if it WERE a closer-to-the-original remake. No one’s taking the original off the shelves. Lighten up.

  10. I’ll probably check the DVD out, but I actually think Jackie Chan and the genuine kung fu choreography is the best (potential) choice of the remake.

  11. Let’s not forget the lovely remake of “Can’t Buy Me Love” recently. I’ve conveniently forgotten the new title. I’m not going to see the new Karate Kid – it’s almost not even the same, may as well just pretend it’s a different movie/homage. I’m not going to see any of the other remakes you mentioned either. I will go see the A-Team, though, the casting looks good and at least that is a different media translation (TV –> movie).

  12. P.S. I can hardly wait for you hoodie-wearing 20-somethings to complain about how they remade Camp Rock. Then I’ll be saying “when I was your age I had to use ISDN to get onto the Internet” or “my cell phone was a full inch thick”! ;)

    P.P.S. Personally I don’t think of Karate Kid as an iconic ’80s movie that’s not worthy of being remade. I also don’t think the new one is enough like it to be called the same thing, and they’re just using the name to garner recognition for an otherwise throwaway movie.

  13. To be fair, I love Jackie Chan too. But Jackie Chan and The Karate Kid, whether the original had any real karate or not (I don’t pretend that it was in any way a shining example of awesome karate skills), is just sad. Why not write Jackie his very own, somewhat more original film where he mentors a little kid? Sure, we’d draw parallels between the Karate Kid and this, but at least they would’ve tried a little harder.

    1. Actually, Jackie Chan DID have a movie where he was the mentor to a youth (_The Forbidden Kingdom_). He was okay in the role; given that he’s both older than he used to be, and has decent comic timing, I’m willing to cut him the slack necessary to actually see this version. I’m a massive fan of the original, and understand your concerns, but the trailer at least doesn’t make it look like this is a disaster.

  14. Plays get restaged. Movies get remade. If it’s bad, it highlights the original. If it’s good, then it’s interesting to see how a remake can take the ideas of the original and spin them again.

    I mean, how many remakes of Wizard of OZ were there until we got the classic Judy Garland one?

    I look forward to seeing how this works. Maybe it’ll be cool. Maybe it’ll remind me to pick up a copy of the original. Maybe it’ll just cause me to eat more popcorn. Who knows?

  15. If you’re going to get all meta and whiney about this, shouldn’t you be using “wu shu” instead of “kung fu” in the context of your gripe?

  16. So what? Hollywood remade a movie with new actors and a new setting. It doesn’t mean they tore up the film, burned the VHS tapes and scratched up all the DVDs of the original. It’s fine if you don’t like it (or in this case, you didn’t like *the trailer*) and it’s fine if you don’t want to see it (I doubt I’ll see it), but no matter how bad a remake turns out (GI Joe) it doesn’t ruin the original series or movie. Even a bad sequel doesn’t ruin part 1, and just because you’re a fan of the first/original movie doesn’t mean Hollywood is forcing you to be a fan of the next/remake, even forcing you to go see it!

    If nothing else, this is a movie for THIS generation of kids, and due to generational differences (does anyone say “got that number rolled” anymore? Would a 15 year old today even know what that means?) the original is probably not a movie they would care to sit through. “Wax on, wax off” is a dirty joke from an old movie now days. But the remake exposes them to these stories in a way they can relate to and enjoy with their friends, and who knows, maybe some kid in the theater would see a movie like that and be inspired to learn karate/kung fu? Is that a bad thing?

    I hate to break it to you, but this movie wasn’t made to make you happy or nostalgic or sentimental, it was made to get some kids into the theater and see a movie with awesome choreographed fighting and earn Hollywood some bucks. And if you take your kid to see it, and you share that moment with them, maybe the Karate Kid will inspire some new sentimentally in you and your kid.

    Or maybe not. But don’t start with this “principal” bullshit, cause I’m tired of hearing about it. It’s a movie, and it’s not even your movie. Your parents paid 3 bucks for you to see it 26 years ago in a room with 70 other people. You’re “reviewing” a trailer and you’re making assumptions on what amounts to a highlight clip. A six paragraph review of a trailer and your personal thoughts on Will Smith, who’s not even in the movie. I usually expect better from Boing Boing bloggers, even their guest bloggers.

    “h, nthr gst blggr n Bng Bng. Wll, th lst thr wr brng nd dmb, gss ths n wll b, t.”

    1. Wow, I cannot believe they disemvoweled you for that. At least it was only the last line. Have to agree with you though. I don’t fear any remake… the world is nothing but change. The tighter you hold on the more you suffer… cause you cannot stop it. It was a nice read and I enjoyed it.

      Anon @65 That would be soooooo cool. It would give me ANOTHER reason to drag the kids down to the theater to watch more lightsaber battles they have little interest in watching. Alright, to be perfectly honest… the son enjoys it a little.

  17. I love boingboing like a close friend, I happen to find this one single directory entry to be in poor taste. I would feel horrified if it were a paid advertisement.


    That was like, every daydream I ever had, ever as a child. And by child, I mean, even right now.

    1. @Moniker, I don’t know what you mean by it being in poor taste and suggesting that it’s a “paid advertisement”? Are you joking?

  18. Is it safe to assume that this movie won’t highlight any of the “cultural” differences between america and china? Will we see the kid touring the sweatshops where his bullies undoubtedly work and realizing that he gets the last laugh, because while he’s a poorer american, he’s still far richer than they are and when he goes off to college in a decade, they’ll be stuck in a factory sewing nikes and making iPods?

    I mean really, how does this premise even make sense? In the original, we have a single mom, who I’ve always had the impression was poor, and in this one we have someone rich enough to uproot herself and her son and move to China, where we can be sure their standard of living will be greater than their chinese neighbors and may in fact be better than what they would have enjoyed in Detroit (I imagine the dollar stretches much further in China). How is this a heartwarming story? Comparatively rich american gets beaten up by comparatively poorer chinese until almost certainly poorer mechanic takes pity on the poor black boy (by the way, blacks face perhaps MORE discrimination in China than they do in the US) and teaches him to kick ass?

    Maybe the bullies are the rich offspring of party officials and businessmen, but I can’t imagine the Chinese government would allow that story to be told.

  19. I have to dispute that there was no real Karate in the original movie. What you saw in the tournament scenes was Americanized Shotokan sport karate. What Mr Miyagi taught Ralph was Gojuryu, an authentic Okinawan style. The clues are there if you know what to look for – and yes they have been adapted.

    The final crane was made up, but I did learn similar techniques. he characters name is reminiscent of Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju-Ryu and the closing move in the form Morita performs are from Peichurin.

    1. > I have to dispute that there was no real Karate in the original movie.

      Not to mention Sensei Fumio Demura (Pat Morita’s stunt double / martial arts advisor), who still kicks ass :-)

  20. Seriously, calling it “The Karate Kid” is like remaking “The Natural” but having them play cricket rather than baseball. Yes there’s a family similarity, but it’s not the same.

    Some remakes are awesome. Good cover songs, for example, let you hear really familiar tunes again, and at their best reveal things in the song’s structure or emotional texture that you hadn’t heard 25 years ago. (Check out Feist’s cover of the Bee Gees’ “Inside and Out,” or any three seconds of Patti Smith’s “Twelve”.) I think the problem here isn’t that this is a remake, but that it looks like it could suck.

  21. I was hoping the trailer would include the part where Will Smith Jr. says “aww hell naww”

    I’ll bet money that this line (or some attitude-same variant) is in this movie.

  22. Geez – sorry that the posters here are hating so bad on you this morning Jess!

    I had the same reaction to seeing this moving being released, and agree completely with you. Just make it a new movie, or call it the Kung Fu Kid. I think it’s typical of Hollywood though, and do see it being the combo of needing the name recognition of a familiar movie title, and wanting a vehicle for young Mr. Smith to have a lead role. But, he seems like a good kid, and Hollywood is all about business… so that’s how they roll.

    1. I think the only reason we’re “hating” on Jess this morning is because her post doesn’t have any solid foundation. I don’t have any issues with Jess personally, and if my devowled statement was a little too far, then I apologize. But my issues are with the way the post is written, and this general assumption that a remake lessons or weakens the original piece in some way.

      First, the way she writes about the movie makes it sound as if she’s seen it. She makes assumptions about the plot and actors, and even the Wiki article on the remake doesn’t have a plot section yet. She also doesn’t list references to where she’s pulling her info, and the whole six paragraphs contain one link, to an entirely unrelated topic. It’s great to have an opinion, and Boing Boing encourages that better than anyone, but reviewing a movie trailer as the whole movie is generally frowned upon, and this is what Jess has done with her post. If the post was about nostalgia or 80’s classics, then it focused so much on the remake and her opinion of the remake that the post is broken.

      Second, writing about a remake in such a way that the original work is now forever damaged or perverted is simply poor writing and an empty argument. Nothing can ever take away from that first memory or happy feeling, even a piss-poor remake (GI Joe). Remakes can be fun, if done right, and you have to admit that being given the option to re-write one of your favorite stories from when you were growing up would be impossible to turn down (Star Trek fan fiction?). Speaking of, Star Trek (2009) was a GREAT re-make of the original series, and I think many will agree it was pretty fun. But it doesn’t make the original series any better, or any worse, and whether or not the Karate Kid remake is amazing or laughable it won’t impact the original Karate Kid anymore than it’ll impact the original Star Trek series.

      Someone mentioned how many times the Wizard of Oz was re-filmed and re-played before we got the classic we know and love. Think how many times Romeo and Juliet or The Phantom of the Opera or whatever your favorite stage production happens to be has been played out. A bad Friday performance your friend saw doesn’t mean the Saturday performance is going to be just as bad. As long as they aren’t re-editing the original Karate Kid and CGI-replacing Pat Morita with Jackie Chan, let them remake these classics till the Hollywood sign gets torn down. What harm are they really doing? Relax and breathe, your childhood is intact.

  23. When I was a kid I was obsessed with one scene in Karate Kid 2- Mr. Miyagi spouts an “old saying” and Daniel-san says something like “how old is that saying?” and Mr Miyagi replies “about ten seconds.” I was obsessed because you could count it out and it was exactly ten seconds between the saying and Mr. Miyagi’s punch line. I don’t know why that thrilled me so much.

  24. I’m not sure I understand the point of this article: besides the fact that this is a sequal, and, sight unseen, you don’t like it.

    You mention that karate is different then Kung Fu: but you don’t really discuss how. I would say that as far as the karate kid movie is concerned, Kung Fu is an excellent replacement. 

    Because the original karate kid wasn’t really about karate: is was about the practice of losing yourself(and finding yourself) through the focus required to master a very difficult challange. 

    Kung Fu, which literally translates to ‘hard work’ or ‘patient accomplishment’, is a great metaphor for that. And, I think that an older, wiser Jackie chan(who actually is a martial artist, and who literally pulled himself out of poverty through his ‘hard work’), brings a gavitas to that role that pat morita could only ever pretend to.

    As a martial artist who grew up *adoring* this movie(I remember our little tkd club @ the movie theatre doing demos in our cheap gees & bare feet), I’m willing listen to a favorite story one more time, told with a slightly different twist. 

    Frankly, I can’t wait till I can watch it with my son in a few years. 

  25. Morita was a maintenance man/jack-of-all trades, not a gardener.

    Whether or not it’s as good as the original remains to be seen, but myself I’m excited to see a young person of color in this starring role.

  26. I thought the original was friggin awful. Ralph Macchio has got to be one of the most irritating people ever to cross a screen, and his martial arts technique was painfully bad, which made it even more aggravating to watch. At least Jaden Smith is cute and seems to have done some training.

    The embedded racism of yet another amateur American beating Those Asians at their own game* is probably still as blatant in this movie as in the original, but it’s possible that it will be a bit more nuanced by the fact that a black kid in China is likely to be a doubly targeted object of bullying. Moving the story from the US to Asia might make the American hegemonic thing either worse or less obnoxious. Hard to say, but I’m inclined to go see this one.

    *Cf. Avatar, The Last Samurai, Dances with Wolves, yadda yadda ad nauseam.

  27. In related news, a council of the nation’s top critics have come to the inescapable, objective conclusion that the best period of pop culture occurred when you were twelve years old.

    Yes, you, the person reading this sentence right now!

  28. Mr. Miyagi is played by Fumio Demura and Pat Morita.

    Sensei Shihan Demura’s english was not good enough for a speaking part, but he does all the martial arts and has some sneaky cameos here and there. I do not mean to denigrate Mr. Morita, who was a fine actor and a good man, but we should recognize Sensei Demura as well.

    The “crane thing” is not made up, although it is overhyped in the movie. I was taught that technique (and “sticky hands” as well) by Soke Grandmaster Masaharu Sakimukai.

  29. #1

    “”wax on, wax off” trademarked/copyrighted? put on your jacket is just too clumsy…”

    Well, at first they had him telling the young boy “jacket on”, “jacket off”, but that didn’t go too well…

  30. Its too bad this movie seems to have completely ignored the revolution that martial arts has undergone in the last 15 years. Open and well publicized touraments such as the UFC have shown modern karate and kung fu to be pretty ineffective as actual fighting styles. I’d have thought a modern remake would focus on MMA (mixed martial arts), where the kid studies Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling.

    But oh well,l just another completely unrealistic movie where martial arts is magic and old men are the best fighters.

    1. You need to take that Gracie-ryu koolaid with many more grains of salt. You said:

      Open and well publicized touraments such as the UFC have shown modern karate and kung fu to be pretty ineffective as actual fighting styles.

      That’s a falsehood. Open and well publicized tournaments such as UFC have shown that martial arts that are optimized for non-lethal sport tournaments can dominate non-lethal sport tournaments.

      Read Dr. Mashiro’s “Black Medicine” if you want to understand the weaknesses of the human body. It’s an invaluable resource for serious martial artists who want to be able to control the amount of damage they do – and knowing why certain things are absolutely impermissible in tournaments might open your eyes a little.

      A Gracie disciple once showed me a tournament take-down that ended up with the opponent’s face pressed hard against his femoral artery, right where it’s close to the surface below the groin. He was shocked to discover that in a real fight he’d have bled to death a very few minutes after the opponent finished chewing through his thigh.

      I’ve done a lot of tournament fighting over the past 30 years. It is very different from real combat. In a real fight a skilled martial artist will focus on your knees, eyes, and throat. Old men are quite dangerous in that sort of situation because they are ruthless and tricky.

      And of course, in a real fight, high quality firearms are currently unbeatable. A skilled, trained marksman with armor-piercing high-damage ammunition will always win against a skilled, trained martial artist who is more than an arm’s reach away.

      If you want to beat people up in tournaments, there are schools for that. If you want to learn a beautiful and graceful system of movement, there are schools for that too. If you just want to win fights, go buy a gun, and make sure you shoot first.

      1. Anon & Wrybread –

        Rory Miller, a martial artist and prison guard, wrote an excellent book “Meditations on Violence: A Comparison on Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence” that really lays out just how limited any kind of martial arts training is in the real world. I really recommend it as being pretty eye opening, but I’m not sure how useful it is for folks who aren’t either martial artists or who have been in a fair number of “actual” fights.

      2. Honestly though, how often does it happen in modern society that you have a real fight to the death? Not a fight where somebody ends up getting killed, but a fight where from the start people fully intend to kill the opponent as quickly as possible?

        I think that in general most fights don’t start with that intention. There’s a lot more value IMO in being able to kick somebody’s butt while leaving them without serious harm, than to gouge their eyes out and collapse their windpipe.

        The first may come useful if you one day get in the wrong situation, the second even if justified will get you in serious trouble. Also, things like gouging eyes out and chewing through arteries are going to look really bad in court, even if you were defending.

  31. Since Will Smith and family are scientologists, I hope the kid fights Xenu at the end. That would rawk.

  32. Give it five more years and Hollywood will be “pulling movies from the vault” to re-release them, a la Disney.

    You can spend umpteen millions for a creatively bankrupt ripoff of an earlier film, or just re-release the original film and generate new income.

    Really, I don’t think that we are far away….

  33. As long as we’re all busy acting our age / descending into 30-something senility, can we also get our complain on about the remake of the Crow movie? Eh?! Eh?! damn kids no respect for the classics get the hell off my lawn stop piddlin’ on my Lil’Rascal.


  34. Remakes not so much. If you really want to go back to the 80s you need to step into the hot tub time machine.

  35. Agree with Jess, Love Jackie Chan but he’s not Pat Morita. Mr Miyagi looks old and slow (like Yoda). Jackie can still kick a$$.

    Also , I think people would be more open to remakes if they don’t reuse the originals title (even if they pay homage to the original). in business term, I think the opposition is against dilution of the brand (that they love). call it something else and no-one will care.

  36. What makes me excited about this movie is that it appears to, at least subliminally, deal with the problem of racism in China. This is a black kid moving to a country where about 99% of the population is of a visibly different ethnic group. From my experience, and that of an African diplomat that I met there, it wouldn’t be too long before he ran against crude, outright racism that would make the US’s reddest red-neck cringe.

    As China becomes a bigger and bigger world power this really matters.

    The fact that this film is being produced, at least partially, in China and is being shown there is awesome. It could be the equivalent of the film “A Gentlemen’s Agreement”: the film that broke the ice on the subject of anti-Semitism in North America – only with more Kung-Fu.

    It makes me admire Jackie Chan even more that I did – if that’s possible.

  37. “OK put on your jacket. Now take off your jacket. Now put it on. Now take it off. Now beat up thirty guys with an office chair!”

    That’s how it really should go, if Jackie Chan totally owns the role and makes it his own.

    Anyhow, every year is the year of the remake, and it’s been that way for quite a while.

  38. I’d like to chime in my personal opinion. First lets extract something new out of your writing. “When I first saw The Karate Kid, I wasn’t yet old enough to understand what was happening in Johnny’s toilet stall.” I believe this happens right before Daniel sprays him with water. The only thing I stereotype from this scene is that movies in the 80’s draw unjust parallels to pot smokers and violence. But this is hardly what i’d like to write about. I’d like to put forth the information which i’ve read somewhere concerning the title of the movie. They state they are unable to release the movie here in the US as ‘The Kung Fu Kid’ because dreamworks holds the trademarks for ‘Kung Fu’ as in ‘Kung Fu Panda’. This would seem like a valid explanation for the American title. You may want to look into it. If you want to hate on the new movie ‘The Karate Kid’ then by all means you are entitled to do so. But stop trying to disguise your subjective analysis as some objective proof for why this new movie is a travesty. P.S. Dre’s training looks way cooler then Daniel’s and you can take that to the bank.

  39. whoa. sorry about all the haters in the comments…

    good post, i’m with you on the remake sadness. i love jackie chan, and i love that it’s a kid of color, and i’ll prolly even see this (and the a-team, fwiw). i’m with you on being sad that they have to remake instead of giving jackie chan a chance to make a real new movie. jackie chan rocks, and he gets so few roles of substance. but i’ll watch most anything with him in it.

    not only did i see kung fu (if mr. wushu likes, we can call it gongfu) i thought i saw a little wing chun? or is that just wishful thinking? i’m ok with the title, even if it’s inaccurate. it’s made for popular consumption.

    my only big concern is that there isn’t too much china/red-baiting, and that they don’t polarize race to get to easy answers (a la lightweight lack-of-analysis in crash…don’t get me started on that one).

    but yeah, it’s gonna be kinda lame, but i’m glad they’re nodding to the original (that chopstick scene was awesome imho). and any movie with a predominantly poc cast is on my list of movies to see. (hey! at least they aren’t all bluemangroup aliens or whatev.)

  40. What’s curious about all these remakes is the implied notion that NEW=IMPROVED and with very few exceptions that’s not the case.

    The idea that kids aren’t going to related to the original is also hogwash. I’ve screened “The Karate Kid” at a library movie night and it had 20 kids between ages 8-15 cheering at the end and joking “Wax on/Wax off” (innocently, I assure you) in the evening. Just because a movie is 20-30-40 years old doesn’t mean it won’t connect with a young audience.

    New stories, new character, taking risks. That would be neat.

  41. As someone who has been a martial artist for most of his life, I’m beyond offended by the fact that they’re keeping “Karate” in the title. It’s the “all Asians are alike and interchangeable” soft racism is both insulting to the presumably American audience and to Asians.

    There’s nothing wrong with a remake or re-imagining of the original film, but there’s something distinctly wrong and racist about the titling of the remake.

  42. I think the real fear here is that the movie will actually be good and unlike the failure of the first one, they won’t continue to ruin it with sequels.

  43. Jackie Chan deserves better than everything Hollywood has ever offered him. Look into his older movies – he’s Bruce Lee crossed with Charlie Chaplin. Hollywood has no idea what to do with him, so they make him their generic older fighting Asian guy in shitty films. It’s a damned shame and waste.

  44. Getting hot and bothered about another example of Hollywood re-hashing old ideas is a little silly. Joseph Campbell essentially says there are only a handful of stories – myths – that we re-create over time based on our cultural biases. Based on Hollywood’s track record I would say that’s certainly true.

    To quote TS Elliot – Mediocre writers borrow great writers steal. Given that reality it’s hard for me to care when I learn about another case of borrowing; however when I see the work of a good thief in action – that is exciting!

    In any event, I think this take on Karate Kid looks pretty entertaining. Jackie Chan has a lot of onscreen charisma – I bet he’ll do a better job in the role than you imagine.

  45. A little too attached to the original maybe? Or are they planning on deleting the original from every storage medium on Earth? No, it’ll still be there on sale, for rent as always. This is a new product for the new generation, commerce as usual.

    Although I love Jackie Chan (even though lots of his movies suck d**k), wtf has China, Kung-Fu to do with Karate, which originated from Japan. I’m getting a little uptight myself it seems.

  46. I’ve never seen the Karate Kid, and I watched the trailer with no idea what it was going to be, and got bored halfway through. The thing started out by seeming to be interesting (Wow, crosscultural kid in Beijing?) and when I saw it was a goofy kid movie I skipped watching to the BIG REVEAL.

    Then again I also find the Goonies stupid and annoying, never watched Labyrinth and disliked The Land Before Time when I was a kid so I guess I fail at the 80’s

  47. FWIW: Morita *did* play a gardener in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Well, retired. Clearly, Chan’s character must be a sly in-reference to that.

    My little nephew is kung-fu obsessed, so I will probably be seeing this movie. Can’t suck worse than Avatar, though I will probably not get stoned before this one.

  48. So many wise people taking the postmodern high ground. The point, I think, is not that films get remade and we don’t like it, but that they choose the ones we love to be remade, because it makes money. How cool would it be if they remade bad films *koff – Star Wars* and made them good?

  49. It’s “Golden Spoon” Smith as the “Karate” Kid that really sticks in my craw. It’s like his old man said, “Son, I love you so much I’m going to put you in a movie where you’re the star and have you kick everyone’s ass!” Cast ANY OTHER non-celebrity-offspring kid in the lead role, and I probably wouldn’t find it as offensive as I do. To me, it’s just Will Smith buying a very expensive birthday present for his kid– and shitting up a fond memory of our collective quirky ’80s childhood.

  50. There’s a movie based upon the brutal Peking opera training that Jackie Chan and Samo Hung endured as kids to become the brilliant physical actors they are. That’s the movie I want to see and see re-made. The Karate Kid franchise was not about the fights. It was about the training. Jackie Chan’s “Meals on Wheels” has a great training sequence and Jet Li’s “Tai Chi Master” has another.

    1. That movie is called “Painted Faces”, with Sammo Hung both starring and directing. It really is a wonderful movie.

  51. ugh, can’t be worse than III, Most Karate kid fans have learned to omit by now. The annoying ones pretend I was the only one, your average fan loved I & II, those with a forgiving soul didn’t mind IV, but EVERYONE trys to pretend III never happened.

  52. Pretty sure in that picture of the original Karate Kid, he is in a terrible rendition of crane stance. That’s kung fu if I remember correctly. Also going to say everything Mr.Miyagi taught him was soft style kung fu movements. So why do you care that Chan is teaching kung fu in this one and calling it Karate Kid? Sounds like its a good remake of the old one.

  53. Why do people equate remaking something to taking the original away? The karate Kid was hardly an original example of filmmaking. Chances are that the middle aged movie goer’s who watched the original saw it as a plagiarization of some movie from their childhoods. I wonder how many movie snobs trashed The Magnificent Seven as a trashy Hollywood remake of The 7 Samurai. I happen to love remakes. The Wolfman remake piqued the interest of my Daughter to the point that she wanted to watch the original. She is now working her way through all my classic Universal Monster DVD’s (Bride if Frankenstein had her in tears) that’s what remakes do. They take a classic idea and make it relevant again. But that doesn’t mean that it will be relevant to you. But guess what. The Karate Kid Remake isn’t marketed at you. Just as the original wasn’t marketed at your parents in the 80’s

  54. Still naming it the Karate Kid while now based in China still bothers me. But I can understand it. Bring in the folks like me who still have fond memories of the Karate Kid and want to feel nostalgic.

    With that said, Jaden Smith is likable and who doesn’t love Jackie Chan. I may go see it opening day so I’m not tainted by the reviews and people blasting it online.

  55. The original Karate Kid is a great movie, but I don’t have a problem with a good remake. Unfortunately, it looks like this remake won’t cut it — at least for me.

    I think Chuck Norris would have been great in a Mr. Miyagi -like role! I’m not sure who a good Kid would be, though.

    Girls nowadays seem a lot nastier than guys, so a female Kid might be good for a remake. Maybe that iCarly girl?

  56. To quote Duke Ellington, somewhat out of context:
    “If it sounds good, it IS good.”

    I’m trying to hold off on judging it one way or another until I see it.
    I loved the first film, all it’s flaws and great moments alike.
    I’m a fan of Jackie Chan and I’ve liked the bits that are shown in the trailers.

    I tend to not base my opinion on whether or not something is a remake of an existing story because, when you really dig down, there are only so many stories and most of what we see are remakes, re-tellings and re-imaginings of stories we’ve seen dozens, maybe hundreds of times already.

    This may be more of an update/homage but if I’m entertained by it then it was a success, at least for me.

    Carry on.

  57. A little controversy in the title is good, in a way: perhaps it will spur people to look up the history of karate, and learn of its roots in kung fu. There’s a lot of interesting politics even in the name “karate” (which used to mean “Chinese hand”) and some of the basic techniques, which were renamed to sound more Japanese during a time of war between the two countries. This is all well known to true martial arts nerds.

    It seems obvious that they kept the name of the original movie to maintain the connection to the previous installments and get more people into theaters. If this somewhat mis-named movie gets a whole new audience excited about martial arts, then it’s probably not a bad thing. The origins of both genres of martial art are grounded as much in philosophy and self-knowledge as they are in physical fitness and competition. Those themes appear to be carried through in each part of The Karate Kid franchise.

    I will finish by noting that the ReCaptcha for this comment is “brawlers remained.”

  58. American goes to China and beats them in their own game… so classic. Just like, an American goes to live among native aliens in a distant earth-like planet and beats them in their own game becoming their greatest leader ever

  59. I only just saw the trailer for the new Karate Kid movie. (thanks Boing Boing!)

    Am I the only one who thinks Jaden Smith looks like Riley Freeman from The Boondocks?

  60. As someone who endured being called “daniel-san” throughout the 80’s and is therefore an authority, I want to remind those commenting that no matter how many times or how well it is remade, the original Karate Kid will nonetheless remain the awful, steaming pile of cinematic shit it has always been.

    Let’s not lose sight of that.

  61. I think you know exactly why this movie is called The Karate Kid – it’s all about the money. Calling it “The Karate Kid” will get people saying “oh did you hear about the new Karate Kid movie?” and will draw people into theaters based on the title alone.

    I do agree with the kung fu/karate snafu though, that’s all kinds of disrespectful.

  62. Did I hear someone ignorant dissing a movie with my man Jackie Chan in it? Fools, don’t know whatchou messin’ wit.

    This looks like a kick-ass re-touch of KK. Which was cringy good, but frankly, an annoyance that I couldn’t quite get with. Made me slightly ashamed of my martial arts training. Didn’t mention it to chicks. Mr Miyagi remains a secret hero.

    But this looks done right.

    And martial arts training is especially useful for AVOIDING confrontation and real-world fights. It teaches you the warning signs, and the stupidity of choosing to be in the way of the exploding fist. Hai-ya.

  63. Maybe it seems culturally insensitive to equate karate to kung fu, but to a–at one point– very serious martial artist, and karate kid fan, I love that they kept the karate kid title the same, even though they’ve made the movie about kung fu. Besides, I’m sure they’ll quip around the issue; perhaps the kid says “I want to learn karate!”, while pointing at what Jackie is doing, unaware of the difference. His inability to separate the two or name them by their insider name is somewhat ignorant, as most americans seemed to be in the 70s of the differences between arts. But it is also masterful. Because a master would realize that there is no difference between any of the martial arts. This sort of provincial distinction is exactly what bruce lee fought against. All martial arts operate on the same theories, more or less. Each has different emphasis on legs, feet, hard crushing and soft flowing styles, feints and slips versus direct blocks, and each has strengths weaknesses. But you use what works and you kick the living crap out of the other guy who forms rigidly to one form. And the names? Whatever.

    Plus, I saw the trailer and I am STOKED for this movie

  64. To most Americans Kung Fu, Karate, Kendo, and Capoeira = Karate. Just like Baroque, Renaissance, Classical, Romantic period compositions are just “classical music”

  65. Anon (76) and Marshal: not that you’ll probably ever see this, but what the hell, I can’t sleep, and love talking about jiu jitsu.

    I trained karate for 10 years or so until I started BJJ 7 years ago, and though I agree nothing prepares you for a real fight better than a real fight, I’m pretty continually amazed by how well BJJ techniques work in full force situations. I train under a famous Gracie and we have a never ending stream of big strong guys “just coming to check out the school”, and by that they usually mean they want to show us what tough guys they are. I’m one of the bigger guys at my academy so I’m usually the one they roll with, and even when they’re 280 pounds of muscle (I’m about 210) I can play with them like a rag doll. And one of the great things about BJJ sparring is its absolutely full force. They’re trying as hard as they can, and I can just flow with them and play with them, and submit them pretty much at will. And in BJJ we have a saying “position before submission”, meaning we’re constantly advancing to more dominant positions, and part of the reason those positions are dominant is that things like punching, poking and biting just aren’t going to be possible for our opponent.

    It might help to research the history of Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. Its a pretty amazing technology (in Boing Boing terms) developed from testing fighting styles against each other, in open matches, both inside dojos and out. Lots of those fights were literally anything goes. Over time BJJ got rid of the stuff that didn’t work and focused on the stuff that did. Meanwhile many of the traditional martial arts went the opposite direction, incorporating more and more of the non martial aspects of their practice. There’s a theory that post World War II, when Japanese culture lost is martial edge, most of the Japanese martial arts also lost their martial edge.

    And Marshal, note the discipline Rory Miller studies: jiu jitsu. For a one on one fight it really is the absolute best there is, but of course I guess I’m extremely biased. But I’m at least somewhat educatedly biased.

    No offence to karate, my old dojo, or my old senseis, but honestly, as far as preparing me for a real fight (which is only a small part of why I train), I consider the karate to be mostly wasted time. A great time for lots of other reasons including building discipline, athleticism, strength, speed, and a kind of indescribable spirituality, but not at all useful in a fight.

    But yeah, lots of fights aren’t one on one, and unfortunately the reality there is you’re probably going to get your ass kicked, no matter what. Though a little Krav Maga probably couln’t hurt in those situations…

  66. Sorry to continue the rant, I know I’m being that annoying guy who writes the ridiculously long winded post, but what the hell, its an old article so it’ll probably go unread and unseen anyway. But one final point: its interesting who trains BJJ. About 1/3 are in law enforcement of some kind, but the more interesting thing to Boing Boingers is probably that another 1/3 are full on geeks. There’s something about the way its so technology based that draws programmers and other people on the technical side of high tech. The fact that no matter how big you are, if you know more BJJ than the ohter guy you’ll probably win, is super attractive to many of us geeks. Not because we want to kick someone’s ass, but just because of the sheer beauty of a technology that absolutely does what it claims to. And of course because we love learning complicated things and solving puzzles.

  67. The final scene in karate kid where whats his name throws the crane move on the protaganist is very special for me. My brother in law is a total jerk (sociopath) and for the last 28 years my wife and I have had no dealings with him.
    I watched karate kid on our brand new vcr. My in-laws were out of town and movie rentals were $5 each, so I put three movies on one tape for them to watch when they returned, using the lp recoding setting (this allowed 6 hours of record time), and left it on top of their vcr. when they returned my brother in law was watching the last few minutes of karate kid. Just as the kid assumed the crane position the tape ran out. It was great, something I couldn’t do if I tried.

  68. I saw the original when it first came out. I thought it had a few moments, but was overall pretty tacky. When I found myself mystified by the emotional response to the perceived sullying of the original, it was a familiar feeling. I’m a couple of decades older than the average BB reader, which gives me a slightly different perspective.

    I didn’t hate the original, but I would not have described it as a good movie. Yet there are many who clearly loved it. I guess I was too old when I saw it. I did utterly loathe The Goonies. Bringing that horror back makes as much sense to me as bringing back smallpox.

    I’m trying to recall the first time I found myself being astonished by nostalgia for that which was purely crap. I think it was the Scooby Doo thing.

    I am old enough to have watched Crusader Rabbit on broadcast TV, but not old enough to remember much about it. While there were plenty of cartoons being made for us boomer kids, one couldn’t help noticing that they were kind of cheap and shitty compared to the cartoons made for theatrical release in the 30’s and even 40’s. Sure, the writing for Jay Ward cartoons like Rocky & Bullwinkle was wickedly clever, but the visuals were crude (if charming) and Bob Clampett’s “Beanie & Cecil” had moments of demented genius, but even a grade school kid knew his Warner Brother’s work had been better.

    Not to say we didn’t all watch whatever appeared on that glowing screen. Yep, we drank the Hanna Barbera kool aid out of our Yogi Bear tumblers, but we never really respected them. The cartoons were weak, the plots repetitive and derivative, the artwork feeble, the animation minimal and not in a knowing hip way. It was cheap because it was done on a budget. It was authentic cheapness. You watched it as you ate your bologna sandwich on Wonderbread and realized that once upon a time, cartoons were rather more sumptuous and that bread itself might have actually had some flavor back then too.

    Hanna Barbera made rubbish, but at least it was silly rubbish. At the same time, Filmmation was putting out some really cringe-worthy crap in the superhero science fiction adventure vein. I believe there might have been hints of plot here and there in Johnny Quest, but I could be confusing it with Clutch Cargo, which I watched before I had any idea of what in hell was going on, didn’t even quite get that the mouths were live action, just that they were disturbing as all fuck.

    None of it was easy on the eyes or stimulating to the brain, but a child’s purpose is to sit there like a zombie and consume. We did, and we let the commercials for Maypo and Mystery Date and Tootsie Rolls and whatever the latest Whamm-O product was, wash over us.

    But it’s not like we respected ourselves in the morning. Sometimes you put up with being pawed, not because it’s the captain of the basketball team or because of peer pressure, but simply because you’ve got nothing better to do and you’re bored. And though we didn’t suspect it at the time, there was some compensation down the road, when the likes of “Ren & Stimpy” had at those HB conventions and programs like “Frisky Dingo” and “The Venture Brothers” had at Filmmation.

    But we got a little older, thankfully, and learned to drive and found ways to get out of the house and cartoons and television loomed smaller in our lives. Yet those of us with younger siblings watched, with fascination, the appearance of the likes of Sesame Street. Schoolhouse Rock made the scene and was mildly amusing, but not enough to justify, to my mind, the intense nostalgia for it that followed years later.

    And along came Scooby Doo, a show so tacky, so dreadful, that it made HB’s earlier efforts like Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear seem works of art. Scooby Doo was just as cheap and ugly as the earlier cartoons, but with less charm. The writers were struggling and you could sense they were struggling in windowless offices with cheap paneled walls and stained shabby carpeting riddled with cigarette burns. You watched Scooby Doo and you could just smell instant coffee with nondairy creamer and unemptied ashtrays. Struggling is the wrong word. Struggle implies an effort. They were mailing it in from a land called despair. The characters weren’t beatniks, really, and they weren’t hippies. Nowadays such writing is done by younger folks with a firmer finger on the pulse of popular culture. But back then, middle-aged white men who had no idea of actual youth culture threw together their vague imaginings of what was hip. It was quite simply an effort to exploit, but a weak one. The gang who rode around in the Mystery Machine were never tethered to any actual period in time. The toddlers who watched the show had no idea, but that was because they were toddlers.

    Toddlers get older, we all get older. But when that generation became old enough to drive, it was a bit of a surprise that so many of them maintained their affection for such a dreadful show. It was more than surprising, it was shocking to me. I realize how silly that sounds, but I was shocked. What got to me was there was scant irony in the nostalgia. It didn’t seem that anyone was of the “it was so bad it was good” school, which I could have respected. Nope, they just flat out liked Scooby Doo. I cringe.

    Even Tim Minchin, in his hilarious prose poem “Storm”, references the awful cartoon with respect and affection. Tim, Tim, Scooby Doo was not “so cool”. They weren’t debunking magic out of any sense of social responsibility. They were pumping out repetitive formulaic plots with a mind to whatever required the least possible effort. It was a lazy, lazy show.

    I have come to respect Scooby Doo. Not the thing, the show itself. To me it will always be absolute garbage. But the nostalgia it generated in those younger than me was an eye-opener. Kids often don’t discriminate. They consume with open minds.

    Scooby Doo had, at least, a nice color scheme that made for attractive book covers and lunch boxes. But I don’t know why people were so attached to it. When one grows up, I’d hope that you could cast a more critical eye on the entertainment of your youth. I’m not saying you have to dismiss all of your affection for it. I’m just hoping we could all see it a bit more clearly.

    I am not planning on making any effort to see this Karate Kid remake. But if I get stuck on an airplane with it, I don’t think it will bother me much. But if it’s the Goonies, with all that constant pointless screaming and shouting, that is playing, I’m gonna need that airsick bag.

  69. “The Year Of The Remake”? If you say so. I cut a huge chunk of Hollywood’s output out of my life back in 2001 when watching the promos for Tim Burton’s remake of “Planet of the Apes” made me decide to quit seeing remakes. And how many movie adaptations of crappy old 50s and 60s shows were coming out in ’84 alongside “Karate Kid”?

    I can sympathize with the “they’re raping my childhood!” vibe of this – hearing that there’s going to be a CG remake of “Yellow Submarine” directed by Zimeckis made something die inside, as that’s the movie that really made me fall in love with he medium of animation. But, well, remakes are a large part of what Hollywood does. Remakes are safe; for every person who bonded with the original piece and goes into frothing rage about every change, there’s dozens of people who vaguely remember it as “kinda okay” and will be happy to kill an evening with their spouse and kid seeing the thing.

    I express my dislike of remakes by, well, not seeing them, and not spreading the word about them by bitching about how irredemably bad they’re obviously going to be for not being the Holy Original.

  70. You know what’s even worse? Live theatre. You wouldn’t believe how many troupes perform remakes of Shakespeare, Shaw, and other long-dead playwrights instead of coming up with something original. What a waste.

  71. A black kid goes to China to learn a Japanese martial art. Why do I have a feeling that all of the Asian characters will be reduced to cultural stereotypes? Especially the helpless Chinese girl who plays violin.

  72. movies get made/remade, because people pay to see them. whether they are done by tasteless recycling hacks, or by visionaries striving for an original work of beauty – or all the compromised in-between – people will pay, and usually less for the latter. If hollywood had interests other than that simple train of thought, I’d certainly go to the movies more often. As it stands, lots of people will probably enjoy this movie, and that’s a good thing – and i will continue to enjoy blogs about how it’s a horrible disservice to mankind, and maybe that’s a good thing too.

  73. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions. I think this movie shows some promise. Crotchety old Jackie Chan teaches young Smith some Old School Kung Fu, instead of that glorified gymnastics they pass off as Wushu. Yeah, I can get behind that.

  74. I enjoyed all four of the original Karate Kid. I also practice martial arts. So that makes me a bit of an oddball, since I don’t get disgusted by the technical competency of the martial arts in Karate Kid. I think it is because I judge the quality of those stories by their transformative value.

    I’m excited that Jackie Chan is involved in this remake. Those complaining about the lack of PC and cultural sensitivity can go take a hike. As for the comments and the article itself, let’s talk about culture. Kungfu is not the name of a martial art, it’s closest English word is not even English, but Greek: arete. Karate isn’t even the name of the original Okinawan art. As for the martial arts itself, there are only so many ways you can move the joints in the body. The rest is strategy, or what we martial artists would call principles, as distinct from “techniques”. The techniques of Karate and “kungfu” are different, but *principles* are the same. You can’t see, hear, touch principles, but once you get one, you perceive it in many different places.

    The path through “kungfu” and arete is the same in any culture and any art. It takes years of daily, mindful practice until you get skilled enough, and more to extract principles that apply in other arts — music, literature, painting, computer programming. The practice isn’t easy — if it were easy, then you are not growing. Most serious practitioners are too busy practicing to notice “cultural insensitivity”. In fact, I find it absurd when party A is being offended by party B, and gets called on that by party C who isn’t involved with party A at all — and party A doesn’t have time to really care about the offense because they are focused and involved in reaching for their goals.

    In contrast, look at the lecture given by Carnegie-Mellon professor, Jesse Schelle: . Schell talks about the common element of the 2009 surprises in the gaming world, and that is these games play psychological tricks to get you hooked and they also “break through to reality” in some way or another. You find this in other forms of entertainment as everything gets increasingly more “real”. Reality TV and UFC cage fighting are obvious examples, but less obvious examples include the use of shaky-cam originating with the TV series Firefly and later, the new remake of Battlestar Galactica.

    But no matter how much you pile on that technology to attempt to break through to reality, it still does not beat the experience of arete, being in the zone, being in the flow, being in the present. And judging by the trailers for the new Karate Kid, I walk away feeling that was what Jackie Chan and the producers of that movie wanted to convey.

  75. Usually my first reaction to remakes like this, and to crazy ideas like Space Invaders or Asteroids the Movie, is to be negative. Sometimes I’m wrong, and being negative is a dead end from the start.
    Now, I like Young Master Smith, I like Jackie Chan … let’why not give them a chance. If only because it would be awesome to see 10 year-olds running around doing kung-fu with sound effects again instead of just pretending to shoot each other :-)

    I hope this movie is cool. I hope it’s REALLY cool!

  76. I have had my eye literally gouged out of my head in a fight. As in, the eyeball was on my cheek and the guy’s thumb was in my eye socket.

    I have almost no hearing in my left ear, due to several injuries including a fight where my eardrum was split by a fingernail (yes, you read that correctly).

    I have more than a hundred visible scars on my hands and forearms, although many of them are not from fighting. My knuckles are constellations of toothmarks as are the insides of my cheeks. I have a dime-sized scar in the middle of my forehead, two other visible ones on my face, and one on my throat.

    My left knee ligaments are permanently damaged from a fight with three younger opponents in a gas station early one morning (well, if you know me and didn’t recognize me already, that should do it). I have a notch in my right rotator cuff, right at the top, and gouges in the bones of my shins that are visible if I wear shorts.

    I have trained in several martial arts and competed in medieval sport combat for decades. Also, I like the kind of bars called “dives”.

    Asian martial arts are a beautiful form of self-discipline and physical fitness training, well worth learning, and nearly useless in a real fight. Gracie-do is excellent fitness training and a fine way to win tournaments, very enjoyable, that is worse than useless in a real fight. I have won and lost fighting against people trained in these and other disciplines.

    The way to win real fights is simple; be better armed than your opponent, and avoid being hit. That is all. As Sun Tzu said, “don’t be a dick.”

  77. Even though I’m from the Karate Kid generation, and I agree with just about every single one of your criticisms….

    The trailer for the new film looks HELLA awesome.

    Just sayin… :P

    The number one qualm I have is that they are still calling it “Karate” though – this kid was quite clearly performing something completely different, perhaps of the Shaolin Kung-fu Variety. But then, Hollywood has always made movies for “that guy in the midwest with a gun on the back window of the pickup and a dog in the back”, so no surprises there.

  78. I think The Karate Kid Series is one movie franchise I’ve loved and seen in its entirety. Thanks to my support (a dew drop in a pool of moviegoers sweaty delight), Hillary Swank became a star in her own right after The Next Karate Kid was packaged on Laser(Disc). So regardless of how Jackie Chan may botch up this latest incarnation of the revered Miyagi, I think I will watch Karate Kid again, and yet again. There’s also something lyrical about “Karate Kid” as opposed to “Kung Fu Kry-Out Baby Panda” title, don’t you know? Enough said.

  79. Looks kinda fun from the trailer. Kids coming of age type movies aren’t really my thing, but I’d watch it if friends were going.

    Getting worked up because the concept and name come from a franchise, but some of your favorite franchise elements are missing is just fanboyism.

    Then again: I got worked up about first Knight. Lancelot, Guinevere, King Arthur, the Round Table, and Camelot. These names (and only the names) were taken from Arthurian legend. Everything else on the movie was made from whole cloth. I could have enjoyed it as what it was (a fun fantasy romp) if they hadn’t done that.

    So, guess I can see the point in the post. but an 80s kid’s movie doesn’t have the same import in my mind as Arthurian legend.

  80. are not movies already – (wonderfully if that Is the case..) replayable. Funny how the digital; all about infinite reproducibility, is not enough. The human must intercept and thrust their Je ne sais quoi into it. We already made the binary dude, either make a new way to say it, or sit back and watch as you miss the money you used to wipe your crapper with.

  81. Ok the movie looks great, but why a black child in the movie as this movie has a ton of kung fu in it and that should be left to the Asians or mixed Asians and something else?

    This is so wrong in so many ways. If ya want to use the black kid then use him in a differant type of movie or use him as a off star not one of the main stars in the movie.

    Not trying to be raciest here as that is not my reason for this post. Just here expressing that it is wrong to use a none Asian or half/half for the show as one of the main actor when it relates to kung fu.

  82. Seriously, we’re critiquing a movie before we’ve had a chance to watch it, based on it’s trailer (we know how reliable those always are) and the movie that has apparently been defiled is “The Karate Kid”?

    I’m really a bit disappointed that this made it onto BB. This article can basically be summed up as “I don’t think the new Karate Kid will be as good as the old one because I have decided that it just can’t be.” Great, thanks for that, I’ll withhold judgment until I either see it and I can honestly compare the two, or until some box office/user satisfaction numbers are in so we can compare how successful the two movies were.

    Personally I’ve had a long fascination with covers/remakes of various tv/movie/music properties and one thing that never seems to change is how many of the people who liked/loved one version get amazingly bent out of shape when someone reworks it for a modern audience. My advice? Get over it.

    I suspect that for as long as people have been telling stories and making music, other people have been thinking “I can do it better” and trying to move the art forward. Whether they do a good job or not, I don’t see any real benefit in poo-poo’ing someone else’s creative effort before you’ve even seen it.

  83. I mostly agree with this article. Putting the name Karate in it and then literally using a very different style of martial arts is a lazy decision. I think that calling it “The Kung Fu Kid” would have reminded everyone of “The Karate Kid” just as effectively and sortof implied the whole “modern remake” thing without totally clashing culturally.

    This means absolutely nothing to regular people who know next to nothing about Asian cultures, but to those of us who for example speak Japanese, have lived in Japan, and know the majority of the distinct differences between Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc…it’s a disappointment that Hollywood would seem so inexperienced. This totally lacks any attention to detail with the title. It’d be like calling Harry Potter “AD&D” or something equally absurd as neither really has anything to do with one another except that maybe there’s magic involved.

    As for wrybread’s comment about MMA. Those who practice a traditional karate style and enter MMA are typically ego-driven self-proclaimed “masters” that don’t have a name amongst those who practice Karate outside of their own hometown. Those Karate practitioners who are capable of devastating MMA fighters simply see UFC as the newest WWF of the martial arts world and aren’t interested in televised manhood-measuring contests that simply act as ego-boosters. MMA is a western thing which primarily westernized (or remixed) martial arts are performed. Westernized karate can get you a “black belt” rank in a year (need I say more?). Karate practitioners who are worth their rank typically stick to traditional Karate tournaments and those who’re considered the best only speak Japanese…..

    Which brings up the other point of using a Japanese word for a distinctly Chinese movie just makes me shake my head.

    It might be nit-picky to some, but to me it’s just lazy. Many have noted that a completely original title that reflects on the story of The Karate Kid would have been a more intelligent choice and I must agree with that, especially when it comes to Will Smith’s son’s career-starter (is that the case? I dunno I don’t keep up).

  84. I know I’m probably just posting into the void at this point, but a couple of points:

    #112: said “MMA is a western thing which primarily westernized (or remixed) martial arts are performed.”

    With all due respect, no. MMA is hundreds of times more popular in Japan than in America. And not only are there more Japanese fans, but they’re many many times more knowledgable about the sport than in America. And I don’t just mean that they know the names of the fighters, but also about the mechanics of the fight. See PriceFC and its successor Dreams and Sengoku for lots more info.

    Interestingly, many of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters are Japanese. Shinya Aoki for example.

    And also with all due respect, that whole argument that the really good karate practitioners don’t compete is just so bogus. MMA really isn’t an ego thing, its a way to test your abilities. These people are professionals, no one’s getting hurt badly (for the most part and hopefully, of course). Let me put it this way: if Karate worked, MMA fighters, who train 8 hours a day and will do absolutely anything to get ahead, would be training it.

    And as far as anon above with all the fights, yikes. But as far as “Gracie-do being less than useless in a fight”, ha, keep telling yourself that. Its the single most fight tested martial art on the planet right now.

    1. Gracie-do … Its the single most fight tested martial art on the planet right now.

      You clearly did not understand my post.

      What UFC and MMA do is not “fighting”. It is tournament competition.

      Don’t demean your art by pretending it’s something it’s not. Gracie-ryu is a fine thing, a wonderful fitness program that includes invigorating competition. But it doesn’t make you a street fighter, not even close. You sound foolish when you claim it works outside the ring.

      A street fighter hits his opponent with a steel pipe when the opponent is not looking. A street fighter has an accomplice kick the legs out from under his opponent. A street fighter apologizes and grovels, then pushes you under an oncoming train the instant you turn your back.

      I’ve been in real fights, where people did their absolute best to kill me, and survived. I am nearly 50 years old and I’m telling you, tournaments are the opposite of real fighting. Tournaments have rules. The more you practice fighting with rules, the less experienced you are at fighting without them.

  85. I expect to like this movie. Jaden was a sidekick in Pursuit of Happyness, here he gets to be a star. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of him. Jackie Chan’s always good. I recently saw Karate Kid for the first time. Some good stuff, but it’s dated and lame as well.
    When Bruce Lee was a kid he made a bunch of movies. As far as I know these are lost? But if anyone could find them it’s the BoingBoing crowd. Any clues?

  86. Anon / 115: I’m going to try not to bite too hard at your condescending tone and just reply rationally. Have you ever been to a BJJ academy? One aspect of BJJ that I’m not proud of is how many of the people there are total street fighters. A good half the people at most academies get into street fights monthly, and kick ridiculous amounts of ass in the process. Another third are in law enforcement and what they do isn’t exactly street fighting, but isn’t exactly different either.

    I gather you’re having some fun sitting at your keyboard thinking about the good old days of bar fights and “medieval combat”, whatever that is, but I assure you “gracie-do” (and no offence, but you sound goofy calling Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that) is primarily a street practical martial art, and a tournament martial art second.

    Since you seem interested in the topic, it might help you to know something about the history of BJJ. My instructor’s father, Carlos Gracie, one of the founders of BJJ, honed the art through open challenges, both inside and outside the ring. There was nothing tournament focused about it. Its street fighting, pure and simple.

    Later on BJJ started a tournament system as a way for academies to test their techniques against each other, and I’ll agree that some academies focus too much on tournaments and not enough on regular street defence. But their argument, which I largely agree with, is that once they get good enough to do well in a tournament, they’re also good enough to demolish most people in a fight.

    You should try it sometime, go to an academy. It really is amazing. I’m in San Francisco, and I’d bet $500 that one of our 150 pound advanced white belts would have you back mounted and tapping (or choking out) within 40 seconds.

  87. ps- amusingly enough, I just looked up “medieval sport combat” and your posts on BoingBoing are among the top 5 google results. The others lead to this geocities looking website:

    Honestly, you’re comparing that Ren Faire crap to BJJ, one of the most respected martial arts on the planet? And then having the further nerve to disrespect it? You’re funny. I guess I should know better than to get engaged with a troll, but still here I am.

    For comparison’s sake, here’s a google search for BJJ, and here’s a google search for Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Not that Google is the final answer in martial arts, but I think it goes pretty far in addressing which of us trains in an actual martial art, as opposed to live D&D.

    – wrybread at gmail dot you know what

  88. I think what the police do is exactly what street fighting is. Their opponents are not following rules like “no shooting people dead without warning”.

    But yes, I have been to a BJJ academy, quite a few times, although the one convenient to my home has closed. I don’t believe anything I’ve said about the form is disrespectful. It was not intended to be.

    I have also been to quite a few SCA events; the Cynnabar site you linked is SCA. They are mostly full-contact stickfighters and their rule system favors heavyweights (which kind of shows in the front page photo). You are welcome to tell them how you feel about “Ren Faire crap” :) they are not hard to find. If you do visit them, you might want to remember that their tournaments do not allow grappling, throat strikes, wrist grabs, or groin strikes, before you issue any challenges.

    The way to fight people using Gracie style is simply to stay outside their reach. If you let them touch you, they’ll usually drag you in and squish you, so it’s best to nail them from nine feet or more away.

  89. Ok, I’ll drop it. But for the record, calling a martial art that was borne out of street fighting merely a “wonderful fitness program that includes invigorating competition” is most definitely disrespectful.

    And yes, when fighting a grappler its a good idea to stay out of his range, but that’s much easier said than done.

  90. This post rubbed me the wrong way. Look, I saw The Karate Kid when I was 9 years old. I spent the next month running around punching things. It was THE BEST MOVIE EVAR!

    Watching it as an adult, I realized that it wasn’t such a great movie. It was in fact mediocre. Maybe worse than that, full of crappy dialogue set to an often overpowering 80s soundtrack.

    It wouldn’t have the same effect on kids today. They’re more used to more recent cinematic techniques and tropes.

    I’m not going to begrudge my nephew his own month of poor impulse control to preserve the magic of one overrated childhood memory.

  91. Culture wars, Mac vs. PC, Fords vs. Chevies, Bush vs. Obama, A & M vs. Texas. Oy. But memories are golden, and remakes DO suck.

  92. this movie should never have been remade.
    It is completely ridiculous.
    You can’t make a movie, slap a familiar title on it, call it a re-make and have it be nothing like the original in which it takes it’s namesake.
    I am tired of seeing this crap be thrown at us and we have no recourse but to accept it (and obviously avoid seeing it).
    There are so many things about this remake that I hate that I can’t begin to go into them since my opinions might not be very well received. So I will just avoid ever seeing this POS movie and try to forget it was ever made.

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