The Alexandrian

The Karate Kid

China sure is a small place in the world of the new Karate Kid.

(Although I suppose it’s really no worse than having the Eiffel Tower visible from every point in Paris.)

But that gentle ribbing aside, despite my skepticism of this nepotism-driven create-a-star vehicle, I was very impressed with the new movie. There are a few rough edges that are left inexplicably hanging out and the final tournament sequence lacks the satisfying punch and pace of the original movie, but where the movie excels are in the small details: The cinematography is gorgeous. The performances from Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, and Wen Wen Han (who played the love interest Meiying) are nuanced.

And there are multiple scenes which are just flat-out emotionally beautiful. The sequence where Dre helps Mr. Han out of the car is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen in the cinema recently.

Is this better or worse than the original? Having seen the movie, I find the question almost meaningless. They told the same story, but they made it their own. It’s a different film, good and bad in its own ways, standing on its own.

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