When his mother (Henson) is relocated to China for work, Dre (Smith) tries to fit in, only to be terrorized by bullies. After one particularly bad encounter, Dre is rescued by a local maintenance man (Chan) who teaches him Kung Fu. Yet another remake, but with enough uniqueness to make it worthwhile.
While The Karate Kid is one more remake/reboot in a year already full of them, the filmmakers at least try to switch things up by moving the action to China. The new venue and ensuing culture clash are used to good effect, and give this film a distinct flavor from the original. The reworking of the main character is a definite departure (Dre is 12, while Ralph Macchio’s Daniel was 18), and has a two-fold effect: it makes the bullying that much more believable, but makes some of the more brutal fights a bit harder to watch. Smith has improved greatly in only his third role, and, while Jackie Chan is no Pat Morita, he does well as Dre’s teacher and is as fun to watch fight as ever. I doubt “jacket on, jacket off” will catch on as easily though. Ultimately, the movie is enjoyable if a bit too long, but the real question is “can we please stop with the remakes?”