Movie Review: Karate Kid (1984) vs Karate Kid (2010)


Movie 1: Karate Kid
Year of Release: 1984
Language: English
Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue.

Movie 2: Karate Kid
Year of Release: 2010
Language: English
Starring: Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.

A young boy, new in town, becomes the punching bag for a group of bullies. To his rescue comes a handyman who is a Karate/Kung Fu master. The boy learns self-defense skills from the master and ultimately defeats his enemies. Sounds like a run-of-the-mill underdog story. Both movies are essentially the same. What differs is the execution.

Now, I know Comparison is the Devil’s Q-Tip but it is inevitable. When a movie is remade it will be compared to the original. Sometimes for the good. Mostly for the bad. Either way, it doesn’t stop the churning of the remakes.

Back to business now. The original (1984 version) deals with the issue (bullying) in an environment where a 15-year-old likes a girl and is bullied by the girl’s ex-boyfriend, Johnny. Ralph Macchio’s character as the conflicted and hormonally angry teen is well acted. Scenes between him and Johnny (William Zabka) are good. The real hero is Pat Morita as the calm and strong ‘Miyagi’. No one could have done it better. The relationship between Daniel and Miyagi is warm and heartfelt. The humourous way that he teaches Daniel Karate is the USP of the movie. Remember ‘Wax-on, Wax-off’?

The new version is the same but with a much younger protagonist. Try as I might, I am unable to picture a 12-year-old trying to master Kung Fu just to get back at some bullies. 12-year-old? Seriously? Maybe I am reading too much into it. Maybe the power of Will can make this believ(b)able. The block of wood used to hang the jacket had more emotions than Dre Parker (Jaden Smith). Mr. Han (Jackie Chan, one of my favourite actors) is more like a sidekick or coach rather than a teacher. But the change from Chan’s more eccentric and goofy characters is a breath of fresh air. All in all, a pretty average remake of a classic.

Going by the review my choice is obviously the original. It never bores me. The remake is a little over-the-top for me to handle.  Which one is your choice?


3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Karate Kid (1984) vs Karate Kid (2010)

  1. The remake was a vehicle for the young Smith to get into the acting profession with a lead role in a movie. I agree, he was way too young to make the role believable. His acting range is as narrow as the width of a rope. Chan has the ability to act, but except for a bit of brooding over the death of his wife and family there was none of it here.

    I came to enjoy Pat Morita as “Arnold” in happy Days. he was believable as a Karate master who kept to himself and only used the skill when all other measures failed.

    Liked by 1 person

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