Exclusive : Who’s Who in The Karate Kid?


I’m about as excited by the idea of a “Karate Kid” remake as I am of contracting the Swine Flu – but nevertheless I’m curious about the film, and have been following its progress (namely the casting) rather closely.

I think what’s intriguing about this one – and this could work in it’s favour, I guess – is that producer Will Smith seems intent on not remaking John G.Avildsen’s 1984 classic but simply ‘getting jigging with’ it’s template; sort of making a film that plays eerily similar to the Pat Morita-classic, but not that close.

And if that’s right, then it might just pass muster.

If there’s one thing that stinks about most of today’s remakes it’s that they’re merely retreads of the original. If there’s a reason to remaking something, like, say, you’re going to reinterpret it, then maybe, just maybe, it’s worth doing – like, say, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” remake, which I don’t have a problem with at all (well, maybe I have a problem with the last 30 mins, which is merely a Xerox of John Carpenter’s film).  Still, as different as this new version, written by Chris Murphy, may be, I think there’ll still be a few folks up-in-arms about it – largely people with the surname ‘Macchio’, ‘Kove’, ‘Zabka’ and ‘Kamen’.

I got to chat with a couple of folks that are working on the upcoming “Karate Kid” (and yes, as of today, it’s still called “The Karate Kid” despite rumours it’d be retitled “The Kung Fu Kid” – which would make sense, considering it’s Kung-Fu, not Karate, that our hero learns in the film) about just how ‘different’ a film this’ll be from the Ralph Macchio-Pat Morita movie.

Well firstly, the story is essentially the same – kid forced to move with his mother to a new city. Gets beat up by some Bullies. Maintenance man teaches him martial-arts – but this one, being set in China, does play to a slightly different beat.

Here’s the storyline:

Sherry is offered a transfer to China. Considering the U.S office is about to lay off everyone, it’s really her only choice; especially since nobody else at the office has been offered a transfer. With her young son Dre (Jaden Smith) in tow, the single-mother makes Beijing her new home. Needless to say, not knowing Chinese, and experiencing a bit of culture shock, they both find it a little hard to settle in – – Dre especially.

Like Daniel Larusso in the original film, Dre (who, unlike Larusso, is a skateboarding video-game buff) immediately catches the attention of the local bullies – in particular, Lui Wei Cheng. And before too long, Dre is going home with bruises (he tries to hide a black-eye under a cap by pulling it as far down his face as he can) and whining about wanting to return to the states.

Dre’s enrolled into a strict Beijing Middle School. His first day there is a bit of a shambles – the assistant principal spots his bruises, and assumes he’s been fighting (which, of course, they don’t accept under any circumstances), and he turns up in a school uniform, something he didn’t have to wear that day (there’s only certain days when a uniform is required).

The Mr Myiagi character is actually named Mr. Han (Jackie Chan). He’s the maintenance man of the apartment lock that Sherry and Dre have moved into, and meets the new residents when he’s called over to fix their hot water service.  From the bathroom, Han spots Dre practicing martial-arts kicks (unsuccessfully) in front of a video-game, and catches his black eye. Later, of course, he’ll agree to teach him – both martial-arts and the Chinese language (so he can impress his mother by haggling over apples).

The ‘John Kreese’ character – the character played by Martin Kove in the original film – is Li Quan Ha, the owner of the Fighting dragon school of Kung-Fu. One visit to the school – in which Li Quan terrorizes his students (who range from the age of 3 onwards), namely Lui Wei Cheng – and Dre is immediately put off.

Oh, and yes, there’s a love interest – someone mother wants Dre to bring home for dinner.

“The film has a similar tone to the original movie”, I’m told. “There are a lot of funny lines – mainly delivered by Jackie Chan. It is actually a good script though, very good in fact. It’s different enough to be considered its own beast too”.

We shall find out next year, when “The Karate Kid” is released!