Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith star in this martial arts remake
4/5 (GP) US. Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Tarji P Henson In the first Karate Kid, teenage Daniel and his Jersey mum settle in Reseda, a modest California suburb that’s as Valley as they come. It’s a crucial bit of character shading, separating our hero from his wealthier peers, including the cheerleader he falls for.
Today’s updated Kid goes an ocean further, exporting its black Detroit youngster Dre (Smith) all the way to Beijing, where his braided hair gets fondled and his race is a novelty. He’s also, unambiguously, a kid: all of 12, and that lump-in-the-throat feeling is the same as before. Credit better-than-good Smith, accessing a wealth of emotion. He’s young enough to want to go home; fittingly, Jackie Chan is, for once, acting his age, slouching as Mr Han, a handyman requiring a rebirth.
Sometimes the parts don’t quite slide into place as they used to, but it’s nice to be reminded of the virtues of clean storytelling and cultural curiosity.