The 1984 teen film "The Karate Kid" told the story of a dorky outcast, played by Ralph Macchio, who was taught the sacred art of karate by the wise Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita) in order to defend himself against school bullies.
The film has since become such a cultural staple that when Sony announced it was remaking the movie, some skeptics wondered if a reboot could taint the original. The new film, which comes out in June, stars Jaden Smith (who also happens to be Will Smith's son, who also happens to a producer on the movie).
Smith plays Dre Parker, a young boy whose childhood is disrupted when his mother (Taraji P. Henson) takes a job in China. After moving from the United States, Dre -- like Ralph Macchio before him -- is teased by schoolkids and seeks solace in a friendship with an older martial artist, here known as Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), who teaches him the ways of kung fu against the backdrop of the Great Wall and other Chinese landmarks.
Jaden's 11, and he's kind of adorable. But he's also really little -- so little we're skeptical about buying him as a newly minted martial-arts hero. Boyish is one thing; child-like is another.
So we went back and watched the trailer for the original and got a little bit nostalgic. Macchio, with his poofy '80s hair and cut-off T-shirts, exudes just the right amount of cheese so the movie doesn't take itself too seriously. And the entire spectacle is grounded by Morita, who oozes a sage wisdom we're not sure, at least judging by the trailer, that action star Jackie Chan will be able to pull off.
Will Jaden prove to be as big a box-office draw as his famous dad? Is there any way the remake will be able to live up to the landmark original? Share your thoughts in our poll.
-- Amy Kaufman
Photo: Jaden Smith stars in "The Karate Kid." Credit: Columbia Pictures