Friday, June 11, 2010

Kid VS Kid

Another remake/reimagining of a movie from the 80's hits theater's this weekend, so it's time for another face off. This one will be Kid VS Kid, though a better comparison would be Karate VS Kung Fu. I am of course speaking of The Karate Kid, a classic underdog story about a young man who learns martial arts from a wise old mentor to overcome all odds. So lets get this battle started, fight!

The Story
I'll cut through all the small talk and just say it. These films have exactly the same plot. The 2010 version follows the same plot points of the original 1984 film. A boy and his mother move to a new place where he falls in love with a girl, gets his butt kicked by a bully, and learns to fight from an old man. The major difference being that in the 2010 version the boy has just moved to China rather than California. The second difference being the age of the two boys. In the original film Daniel was a High school Senior, but in 2010 the young Dre is only twelve years old.

So who wins if they're basically the same? They both do, I have to call this round a tie.

The Fights
This comes down to the fighting styles themselves, with one being Karate and the other Kung Fu. So it begs the question, why is the 2010 version called Karate Kid when he doesn't even use Karate? Well they certainly never explain it in the film. There is only a brief mention of Karate early on, but is quickly tossed aside for Kung Fu. So it comes down to simply the nostalgia factor. Putting Karate Kid in the title in hopes to invoke fond memories of the original to lure you into buying a ticket. I still firmly believe calling it The Kung Fu Kid would have shared the same effect, and made more sense from a realistic standpoint.

So which is better? Karate or Kung Fu? Well I'm no expert of either so I can only judge from a visual basis. The choreography of the 2010 version is so well polished it nearly shimmers on the screen, but at the same time it's almost to good. You begin to notice how staged a fight feels the longer it continues, but that doesn't change how impressive most of them are to witness. Fights in the original were very fast and most ended in few seconds, but they still felt real.

I actually have to give this one to the 2010 version due to the amount of effort given toward creating some stunning moments.

The Teacher
Mr. Miyagi, played by the late Pat Morita, is best known for this unorthodox training methods. Simply saying the words "Wax off" and you immediately think of The Karate Kid, or giggle. Either way the term has become iconic. Turning everyday chores and labors into training exercises proved to be very effective. From washing cars, sanding decks, to the simple act of painting a fence. Each one served a purpose, a fluid motion for Daniel to learn and master.

The bond formed between Miyagi and Daniel grew stronger with each new trial, as they both began to fill a void in the other's life. Daniel lacked a father, and Miyagi's wife and child had passed away years ago. Together they completed each other.

Mr. Han, played by Jackie Chan, is the 2010 equivalent of Miyagi and both share similar characteristics. Both Han and Miyagi work as the handyman of their student's apartment building, and both use seemingly odd methods of training. Though Han's consists of mostly removing a jacket and hanging it from a post repeatedly. It has the same effect as Miyagi's chores, but doesn't really hold the same impact. It might have to do with it being a single action rather than a number of what first appear to be random labors.

The bond between Han and Dre is there, but just doesn't feel as powerful somehow. They feel like a true Teacher and Student pair, but the bond seems to end there. I have to give this one to Mr. Miyagi quirky sense of humor, and loving bond he shares with Daniel.

The Student
We end off this battle with the two title characters from each film. Daniel Larusso played by Ralph Machio, and Dre Parker played by Jaden Smith. Daniel is clearly angry that his mom has forced them to move across the country, but he settles into his new town fairly quickly. He makes friends and flirts with a girl right away, and comes off as a genuinely nice guy. Daniel is a smooth talker which helps build the chemistry between the love interest and himself.

Dre on the other hand is awkward, and is also upset by the move but comes across more as whining. This is where the age difference makes a huge factor. Dre is twelve so it may be natural for a boy his age to whine and cry, but it can also be annoying. The relationship he builds with a girl suffers from a forced feeling, and it can be a bit hard to take twelve year olds in love very seriously.

I have to give the win to Daniel for coming off as just being more likable.

The Winner
Again the winner of this match off is the original 1984 Karate Kid. While the 2010 version shares similar elements it bogs itself down with to much extra padding that keeps it from surpassing the original.

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