Contributed By Yu Jianxiong
Initially the combination seems a little weird: Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, and a whole bunch of Chinese boys. Those who remember Pat Morita as Mr Miyagi coaching Ralph Macchio in the original Karate Kid would be surprised this not-quite-a-remake is out-of-the-box and original.
The film is set in Beijing, China where single mom Sherry Parker, with her son Dre (Jaden Smith), relocates to for her job. Dre finds himself in an unfamiliar environment where he does not know the language. Adapting is tough, especially when he runs into a group of bullies in school who are highly skilled in kung fu. One day he finds himself in a fight, about to get badly beaten up, when the school maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) comes to his rescue. Of course, Mr. Han is secretly a kung fu master, and becomes Dre’s mentor and coach.
Like a good old karate story, the apprentice meets his master and enters into a martial arts tournament. Filling these roles are a sloppy old semi-retired mechanic teaching a little black American kid kung fu. Dre commits himself to the unorthodox training methods of Mr. Han, gaining in strength till he enters a tournament that pits great fighters against each other.
Given his genes (his father is Will Smith, his mother Jada Pinkett Smith) Smith is a strong actor, and very credible as a kung fu fighter. In fact, all the children in the movie are so well-trained it feels terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, watching them beat each other up in the ring. Yet, the fight choreography is well-constructed and smooth.
This movie exceeds most expectations. The storyline was simple yet effective and touching, with few of the clichés that are to be expected when American boy-meets-Chinese kung fu master. This is a movie well worth catching.