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December 16, 2010
The Karate Kid (2010) Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
8/7/20108/12/2010Sony PicturesHarald Zwart
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1PGJaden Smith
Jackie Chan

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Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith star in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid.

It's fair to say that the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid really had quite a bit stacked against it prior to release. Jaden Smith isn't exactly a superstar (yet), the movie had some horrific early trailers that were among the worst we've ever seen, Jackie Chan was well past his superstar peak in America and for a movie aimed towards the younger crowd the 140 minute runtime was excessive. Still with a production budget of $US40 million the movie was a phenomenal success with a worldwide gross of $US358 million. It's now out on Blu-Ray and we were keen to see if this really was a worthy remake...

When Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mother (Taraji P. Henson) move from Detroit to China, Dre feels lost in a world very different from what he knows. Bullied and beaten up by some fellow students in his school, Dre is rescued by his apartment building’s handyman, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), a man who is mourning a devastating loss. Mr. Han takes pity on Dre and agrees to teach him kung fu to defend himself. Training together, teacher and student learn to trust each other, and ultimately form a friendship that heals them both.

First things first, yes this should be called Kung Fu Kid as karate isn't even the fighting style being used in the movie - that's even mentioned when Dre corrects his mum in the film for saying he's using karate. In any case there is plenty to enjoy in this film including the performance of Jackie Chan who seems perfectly suited as Mr Han with an old, wise look to him. Indeed this is probably Jackie Chan's best role since, well, for quite some time. Jaden Smith too is impressive and while he comes across as a little arrogant, that's his character and I can see him becoming quite the superstar in future.

In terms of the actual storyline the filmmakers haven't strayed too far from the original film, with many of the same circumstances, and some - including the fly catching - with a pretty amusing twist. Of couse the outcome is pretty predictable and there could have been some trimming to bring the movie closer to the 120 rather then 140 minute mark, but overall it's entertaining for youngsters and old ones alike.

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Getting in some special training!
In terms of negatives I had a couple with this film. First of all the bully that is giving Dre a hard time has a pissed off look permanently attached to his face, and it doesn't offer him much chance to be more then a one dimensional character. I was also a little uneasy, about Dre's relationship with a girl in the movie. The kid's 12 and, yar, perhaps I don't see what happens enough out in the real world but it was a little strange seeing a couple of kids that young kissing, even if it is behind a screen.

Not expecting too much, especially after seeing the dire trailers for the theatrical release, The Karate Kid wasn't a movie I was too keen to check out, but I genuinely enjoyed the final product. Jackie and Jaden have a pretty good chemistry, and the story is well fleshed out.

Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec, and in the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio, The Karate Kid is a pretty impressive looking film. As such a recent release the transfer is free of any major film artifacts and the transfer is simply gorgeous. Part of the enjoyment of this film comes from the stunning cinematography from a variety of locations around China. Fine detail is evident throughout in this transfer while black levels are consistent and the shadow detail also manages to impress.

The Karate Kid comes to Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track and it's a pretty good movie sonically with mostly clear dialgue, although at times some of the actors are a little tricky to understand - more to do with their delivery then the encoding. Indeed the audio experience with this release is near perfect with regular and aggressive use of surround sound channels and some bass when required. It's fair to say that this transfer exceeded expectations sonically.

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Jaden Smith impresses as Dre in The Karate Kid.
Besides the primary English track this Blu-Ray contains an English Descriptive Service track which is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448kbps, a French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and a Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps.

Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French, Hindi, Arabic, and Dutch. That's a little less then we're used to from a Sony Pictures release but as always the English track, from our samples, didn't show any glaring issues.

While not loaded with extras there are still quite a few here worth checking out.

On Location: The Karate Kid Interactive Map of China (HD): This featurette is a little brief and light-on in detail however it provides some background to filming locations such as Wudang Mountains, Beijing and The Great Wall, and where in the film the location was used and so on.

Alternate Ending (3:32/HD): This ending is a little more in line with the original movie with a final segment set after the tournament. We won't spoil it however you will see Jackie Chan doing what he does best here.

Production Diaries (29:44/HD): There are nine production diaries here which include "Training Jaden", "Jaden Smith: A Day In The Life", "The Forbidden City", "From Jackie With Love", "The Great Wall", "Olympic Village", "Director Profile", "Taraji P. Henson Goes To China", and "Wudang Mountains". Fortunately all of these can be watched together following an introduction by Jackie Chan. Som of this is repeated in the "Making Of" featurette, but there's still quite a bit here to enjoy.

Chinese Lessons (HD): This is a series of moments from the film which captures some Chinese phrases but then also shows correct pronounciation and writing of the phrases.

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Guess if he's a good guy or not!
Just for Kicks: The Making of The Karate Kid (20:09/HD): Slightly EPK in style this is still a decent enough look at the making of this movie, with some impressive training footage of Jaden Smith learning martial arts - he's actually quite good by the looks of it. There is plenty of love for Jackie Chan, some great on-set footage, and intersting moments captured including the music recoding by James Horner.

Music Video: Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith "Never Say Never" (3:49/HD): We've heard worse songs, but yep, once was enough for us.

Trailers (5:10/HD): Here we have trailers for "The Karate Kid" (1984), a teaser for the upcoming "Smurfs Movie in 3-D" (0:47) and "Open Season 3" (2:11).

Trailers (5:10/HD): Here we have trailers for "The Karate Kid" (1984), a teaser for the upcoming "Smurfs Movie in 3-D" (0:47) and "Open Season 3" (2:11).

PS3 Wallpaper Theme: Head on over to the Game menu in the PS3's XMB and you'll have an option to install a Karate Kid theme. It's not that special, but a nice addition.

Remakes are always a dicey prospect, for both the studio funding the project, and the movie-going audience. Rarely do they succeed but on that count The Karate Kid manages to hit the right notes and is an enjoyable, if slightly lengthy movie, for adults and children alike. A great transfer and solid extras makes this Blu-Ray worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.