Jackie Chan will be filling in for the late Pat Morita as the teacher in next year’s remake of The Karate Kid, with Will Smith’s kid as the, uh, karate kid.
On the one hand, I could make a snarky comment about how we’re running out of 80s properties to remake in modern feature films. On the other, I’m not sure this really qualifies as a remake, per se: It’s set in Beijing rather than California, Jaden Smith’s Dre (no relation to the Doctor, presumably) is a bit younger than Daniel-san was, and given the location and instructor, one can make the assumption that he’ll be learning a Chinese martial art rather than the Okinawan karate of Mr. Miyagi. But I guess The Kung Fu Kid wouldn’t have quite the nostalgia value, huh?
Still, it follows the basic formula: Kid moves to a new home where he feels out of place, finds a local girl he likes, runs into local bullies. Kid gets ass kicked by bullies, learns martial arts from wizened instructor who teaches him via seemingly-mundane activities (“pick up your jacket” vs “wax on, wax off.”) Kid gets good at martial arts, enters tournament for epic final showdown. Ah, the old 80s underdog story.
In all seriousness, I’m not sure what I feel about this. On the one hand, 80s remakes annoy me kind of on principle, and this does look a bit cliche. On the other, Jaden Smith is actually a pretty good actor (from his role in The Pursuit of Happyness with his papa Will Smith, anyway) and the more I think about it, the more I think Jackie Chan is a surprisingly good fit for the Mr. Miyagi role. Go figure.
The Karate Kid will hit theaters this upcoming July.