Hmm... The Karate Kid (1984) wasn't exactly a movie begging to be remade, refreshed or rebooted. In a way, it was perfect all by itself. No, I'm not kidding. Think about it - the story had a good beginning, middle and end. The karate tournament was a great climax. It didn't need one sequel, much less two, and certainly not a Hilary Swank gender-bending semi-sequel (which I didn't bother to see, truth be told). And who can forget the catch phrases? "Wax on, wax off," "Daniel-san," "Sweep the leg," "Balance."
Which brings us to the modern The Karate Kid. It's got problems but let's start with the good parts - there aren't as many. China has never looked better. The ending, when you're expecting the kid to do what Daniel-san did to win the 1984 tourney, he does something else - and it's cooler! I doubt that even Nastia Liukin is flexible enough to pull off the stunt without special effects, but it's still cool.
Now the bad. It's too farging long - two hours, 14 minutes. It was produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, and stars their 12-year-old son, Jaden. Nepotism usually not good in a merit-based business. Young Mr Smith is not quite up to carrying a movie yet. China financed the movie, which explains the extra 45 minutes - it's partly a tourism video.
And the inappropriateness, as in, a lot of stuff set off my "whoa" detector. The 12-year-old kid has a romance, at least the beginning of one. That's a bit young. The 12-year-old girlfriend did a dirty dance that gave me the willies. The modern Miyagi character, Jackie Chan, saves the kid from a beating by 13-year-olds. A 60-year-old guy beating up a bunch of kids who can't yet drive. Yikes! The physical transformation that the kid goes through in a few weeks of training -that can't be good for a growing boy. And finally, the bad-guy coach instructing his students to permanently injure a 12-year-old kid. That just made me queasy.
My advice? Rent the original 1984 The Karate Kid and enjoy the campiness.