In this version a 12-year old kid named Dre (Jaden Smith) and his mother (Taraji P. Henson) move to Beijing from Detroit to start a new life.
Once there he falls for a young violinist (Wen Wen Han) which leads to bullying from the local kung-fu prodigy (Zhenwei Wang) until an enigmatic maintenance man Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) comes to his aid by teaching him how to defend himself.
When producer Jerry Weintraub was approached with the idea of remaking the original he was understandably sceptical, as not only was it going to be relocated to China, but instead of Karate the main character would learn Kung-Fu.
A quick screenplay fix helped solve the glaring contradiction of the title, but the finished result is an entertaining affair whose only sin is that it goes on about 30 mins too long.
Smith is an agreeable lead, precociously charming throughout and convincing in the fighting sequences whilst Chan steals the show as the Chinese successor to Mr Miyagi, displaying the charm and physicality of his earlier career.
Director Harald Zwart makes this a more visually expansive film than the original, using the landscapes of China to full effect be it the Great Wall, the Wudang Mountains or Beijing itself.
A US-Chinese co-production, the filmmakers presumably got a lot of visual bang for their buck by filming it in China and it makes for a refreshing family-friendly drama in an era of CG-driven blockbusters based on comics.
Whilst a remake with more than a few nods to the original, it stands on its own as a drama and its success at the US box office (where it convincingly beat The A-Team remake on its opening weekend in June) was testament to the across-the-board appeal.
The Blu-ray transfer is particularly pristine 1080p transfer that conveys colours, details and depth with unusual clarity and the historical backdrops come across beautifully with the extensive use of crane shots giving it an added epic feel.
On Location: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China
Play All Hosted by Jackie Chan
Production Diaries Hosted by Jackie Chan
Chinese Lessons – Learn Chinese!
Music Video: Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith “Never Say Never”
Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid
PS3 Wallpaper Theme
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD)
Digital copy (on disc)
Digital copy PSP (on disc)
The Karate Kid is out today from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The A-Team (20th Century Fox): The movie adaptation of the popular 1980s TV show arrives in the UK after being stuck in development limbo for years. The premise is an updated version of the series with Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quiton Jackson as a special forces unit who are framed for a crime. Directed by Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin’ Aces), it also stars Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson.
On its US opening last month, it opened to less than enthusiastic reviews and softer than expected box office. Given the appeal of the show to a generation who grew up in the 1980s, it could still have a solid opening here but faces tough competition from The Karate Kid and Toy Story 3. [Vue West End & Nationwide / 12A]
The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures): Another franchise forged in the 1980s gets the remake treatment with Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) playing a young boy from Detroit who moves to China, where he gets lessons in life and self defence from an ageing kung fu master (Jackie Chan).
Although it might seem counterintuitive to have the new Karate Kid learn Kung Fu, the film has already proved a success in the US, where it convincingly beat The A-Team on its opening weekend. Directed by Harald Zwart (who previously made Agent Cody Banks) the family friendly qualities of the film could also make it popular over here too, especially as the school holidays have just begun. [Nationwide / PG]
Beautiful Kate (Matchbox Films): The directorial debut of actress Rachel Ward is an adaptation of the novel by Newton Thornburg and deals with a writer returing home to visit his dying father. It stars Rachel Griffiths, Bryan Brown, Sophie Lowe and Ben Mendelsohn. [Curzon Soho, HMV Wimbledon & Key Cities/ 15]
Down Terrace (Metrodome Distribution): A low budget British crime drama about a dysfunctional family in Brighton. Directed by Ben Wheatley, it stars Julia Deakin, Kerry Peacock, Robert Hill and Robin Hill. [ICA Cinema & selected Key Cities / 15]
Frontier Blues (Artificial Eye): A drama examining the lives of men on border of Northern Iran and Turkmenistan, directed by Babak Jalali and starring Khajeh Araz Dordi, Mahmoud Kalteh and Abolfazl Karimi. [Curzon Renoir & selected Key Cities / 12A]
Gainsbourg (Optimum Releasing): A biopic of the French singer Serge Gainsbourg, which depicts his early years in Nazi-occupied Paris through to his most successful period in the 1960s. Directed by Joann Sfar, it stars Eric Elmosnino, Lucy Gordon, and Laetitia Casta. [Cineworld Fulham Road, Curzon Soho & Nationwide / 15]
Separado! (Soda Pictures): A documentary exploring Gruff Rhys’s attempts to meet up with his lost long Patagonian uncle, the musician René Griffiths. Directed by Dylan Goch. [BFI Southbank, Curzon Soho & Key Cities]
South Of The Border (Dogwoof): Oliver Stone’s latest documentary sees him travel to Venezuela and explore the recent leftward tilt in South American politics. [Odeon Panton Street & Nationwide / 15]