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June 11, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

If you’ve never seen the original Karate Kid — and if you’re among the under-30s who make up the primary movie audience, you probably haven’t — then you’ll probably enjoy the remake, which stars Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, most critics agree. Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times remarks: “The Karate Kid is a kung fu kick of a film that hits more than it misses, with its fresh prince of Beijing in Jaden Smith, its scene-stealing grand master flash, Jackie Chan, and a shiny-happy China travelogue thrown in for good measure, or tax incentives, one of the two.” And as Roger Ebert observes in the Chicago Sun-Times, “Here is a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet. The Chinese locations add visual interest, there are scenes of splendor in mountains and on the Great Wall, and the characters are once again engaging.” In fact, A.O. Scott in the New York Times says that the new location is the most welcome change provided by the remake. “It has an unexotic, lived-in sense of place unusual in current Hollywood movies,” he writes. “But it should have been better, with … a sense of cultural curiosity to match the eager geographical exploration.” Likewise Claudia Puig in USA Today observes, “The film takes advantage of its exotic setting and places [the two principal characters] in some stunning locations, including the dramatic Wudang Mountains and at the Great Wall.In the New York Post, critic Kyle Smith’s conservative bent comes into play as he notes in his lede that the movie “is about as likely to grab your youngster’s attention as any other propaganda film made by the Chinese government.” (The film is a Hollywood-Chinese co-production.) He notes that the film shows Beijing without its notorious smog. And Peter Howell in the Toronto Star faults the film for its “crass tourism.” The historic sites, he writes, are “nice to see but leave the story feeling punch-drunk.” That’s not exactly a flaw, writes Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail. “Your kids can enjoy some culturally instructive scenery between the flying head kicks.”

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