‘Karate Kid’ knocks out competition, garners Oscar talks for Jackie Chan

Despite criticisms behind the remaking of a revered 1980s classic and a misleading title that instead showcases the Chinese martial art of kung fu instead of the original movie’s usage of Japan’s karate, the American premiere of Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan’s vehicle “The Karate Kid” greatly exceeded expectations by topping the box office at an excellent US$56 million opening.

The 2010 remake began receiving much criticism immediately after news from the movie’s studio announcing productions for the flick. One of the more common criticisms of the movie related to the studio changing the remake’s initial title “The Kung Fu Kid” to the 1984’s original title’s “The Karate Kid”, in favor of tying the new version to an existing movie name brand over accuracy. The gamble eventually paid off in America (the initial title was retained outside American shores), as name recognition drew huge audiences and strong positive reviews silenced skeptics’ issues in remaking a classic.

Following the release of the movie, movie critics heaped praise on how the original movie was able to maintain a fresh update and new take of the plot with excellent cinematography of various locations around mainland China. While critics originally feared that the movie would continue reinforcing negative Asian stereotypes that Hollywood studios have historically done, most recently with the casting of a dominantly-Caucasian cast and the casting of an Asian actor in the villain role for the upcoming movie “The Last Airbender”, a majority of opinions expressed that the new ‘Karate’ movie surprisingly did an excellent job highlighting the various locations of China while respecting the nation’s cultural values.

In addition, the movie’s supporting actor Jackie Chan turned numerous heads in his portrayal as the protagonist’s kung fu instructor Mr. Han, an analogous role to the original movie’s Mr. Miyagi played by the late Pat Morita. The surprise was in the acting chops of the international Hong Kong star for the movie’s serious scenes, in a move that emphasized the actor’s shift away from less action and more drama roles. Furthermore, critics have already opened up talks of Chan’s outside shot of landing a nomination for the Oscars for the supporting actor category, a move that would emulate Morita’s Oscar win in the same category in the original movie.

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