There are a few distinct types of cult classic: B-level horror films, D-level dramas, weird for the sake of being weird movies, and children's movies that seemed really kickass back before you'd entered the third grade, and maintain a place in your heart even though you know there isn't all that much good to them. The Karate Kid is an American treasure. It takes everything we know off-hand about Karate, and adds it to a cute underdog story with an mind-blowingly quick resolution. For what it is it's perfect. Fun for the whole family. Lessons worth learning when you're seven. Even Will Smith's son loves the movie. That's why he wants to ruin it for new generations.
When you're the spawn of a millions worth actor Dad you can get away with a lot of crazy shit. Just look at Lindsay Lohan's kids. So when Jaden Smith says he wants to star in a remake of The Karate Kid executives shout out their "yes sir!"s and "of course, sir!"s and "how high?"s, because who's going to question the child of Hancock? It's assured that a children's movie about martial arts is making back expenses and then some. But does it have to be a remake of The Karate Kid? And does it have to be a remake of The Karate Kid that changes everything about The Karate Kid.
I hadn't seen original until this past winter. Trust me, it got me beat up, ostracized and forgotten as much as missing out on the first three Indiana Joneses 'til senior year did. I understand that its a cherished cult film. Mr. Miyagi is a household name. Even as a child I knew that. So even though I don't share a personal connection to the film, my generation, and previous generations, do, and I also believe it's owed to the classic to be left alone. The synopsis for the remake plays out as follows:
Single mother moves to China. Kid comes along. Kid gets beat up by the local anti-Capitalists. Dejected, he returns to his video games and ollies. Jackie Chan notices him on the Wii, and teaches him a new language, and the Chinese martial art of Kung Fu. The Chinese martial art of Kung Fu. The Chinese martial art of Kung Fu. The Chinese martial art of Kung Fu. And the kid gets his confidence back, and probably fits in better, and etc. etc. blah blah happy ending. Oh, and the kid's name is Dre. That's pretty stupid, too.
Jaden Smith is playing himself in a movie with similar themes to the original that he's remaking, called The Karate Kid, about a kid who learns Kung Fu. In China. Where they learn Kung Fu. Yeah, Karate was influenced by the Chinese, but that doesn't make it Karate. And that doesn't make a movie about Karate. And learning Kung Fu doesn't make someone a Karate Kid. That makes them a Kung Fu Kid. And Jaden Smith is going to learn Chinese.
Is this a really bad idea? Yeah. 1984's Karate Kid wasn't a revered work of art by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't mean it deserves its good name sullied by the High School Musical generation. It bugs me greatly to know that Jaden Smith said he wanted to do this, and it's happening, too. Shouldn't there be more hoops than that to go through when remaking a concrete cult classic?
- Eric T. Voigt, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About Is Still a Great Album