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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Karate Kid - Mr. Miyagi is dead! Long Live Mr. Miyagi!!

I saw The 'new' Karate Kid - should we call it The Kung Fu Kid! - on Sunday last (20 June) and I should say it is 20 shades paler than the original. In spite of a more charismatic Jackie Chan... I found Mr. Han not a patch on Mr. Miyagi (who passed away early this year and in whose memory I spent an entire afternoon watching and rewatching all the three Karate Kid films).

That said, I shall say that Hollywood's attempt to sell China (how much kickback was got in the bargain, your surmise is as good as my guess!) to Americans is disgusting to say the least. Haven't we been through the Forbidden City, the streets of Beijing, the Shaolin Temple, the Kung Fu universities, the glitzy Kung Fu championships, the Great Wall of China? What we do get to see new is the new Americanised condominiums, people of China playing ping pong and violins and basketballs as well as old men sitting around the landscaped parks of Beijing streets that fail to hide China's poor attempts to reduce pollution levels and throwing Afro-Americans into the Beijing crucible. Jackie must have a huge proclivity or affliction towards his Afro-American counterparts - Will Smith, Chris Tucker... and now Will Smith Jr!

By throwing in Jaden Smith on to the streets of Beijing and showing him play basketball in the glorified ghettos of Beijing, if any subtle comparison is made to the streets of Harlem and Pittsburgh... I miss the point! After 2 hours of loud western music and blurring visuals of boys chasing each other through the narrow streets of Beijing, I came home with a headache. It stayed till about another 4 hours.

Though, all is not unwell in the state of The Karate Kid latest. Jaden Smith has worked his "those words relating to the body part that Mr. Han asks him to avoid speaking" and the learning is evident. The kid has a lot of spunk, gumption and attitude. That brings me to the point I want to convey - the new Karate Kid is all about spunk and attitude. And there is no subtlety whatsoever in this 'in yer face' exhibition of Hollywood's latest attempt to make moolah at the expense of the Oriental. I missed the quietness of Pat Morita's Mr. Miyagi, the serenity of the Japanese backdrop, the sanctity of the Japanese home and family tradition, the greenness of the rural Japan, the heart of the Original, the human-side of the villain of the original and his side-kick foil to the American boy Daniel played by Ralph Machhio... and most of all... the SOUL that The Karate Kid (original) had. This new avatar is just two hours of entertainment. It doesn't stay with you or warm the proverbial cockles of your heart.

Mr. Miyagi is dead! Long Live Mr. Miyagi!!