I will be the first to admit that I am a major fan of the the first Karate Kid and not a fan of Jaden Smith. However, I went into this movie expecting to be disappointed in Jaden and walked away disappointed in 3 totally different things. After watching this film, I am convinced that Will Smith bought off the critics and those that voted this highly or said this was better than the original were 1 of 3 things 1) A plant of the studio or close friends. 2) under the influence, or 3) too busy getting physically pleasured to really focus. This film had 3 major flaws and Jadens acting ability or lack thereof was the least of this films worries and truthfully, though I don't think Jaden can act his way out of a paper bag, his performance didn't help or hurt the film, I think he was the same as he was in the others. with that said, I will say that his martial arts skills were good and it's obvious that he put in a lot of work and effort into learning the form. I'll give credit where credit is due and for that reason I give this a 4. However, this film lacks the 3 C's. Cohesion, Chemistry and Character development. Lets start with Cohesion.
Cohesion: For those that don't know what cohesion means, its the glue that holds and strings things together, makes it flow seamlessly. If you have A-C cohesion would be "B". There were a lot of A's and C's no B's.This film left you wondering many times "how did we get here?" Lets put aside the fact that Jaden is in a new country and doesn't know the language. I found it very interesting how he and his mother got around so well with just having got there. There was no explanation for much of anything at all and at times it appeared that things were thrown in just to have an excuse to have a love interest, or for Jaden to be bullied or for his mom to have some dialogue. Like the original Karate Kid or not, did you at any point feel "this movie is dragging along?" Which brings me to...
Chemistry: There was none AT ALL, it felt like a 1 night stand. No ones performance made me give a damn about their cause. Some say well Ralph Macchio didn't give an Oscar worthy performance. Well he didn't have to be Daniel Day Lewis in the film because he and Pat Morita had chemistry. Ralph was raw and natural and Pat's comedic timing and seriousness was on point every time. You cared about them. Billy Zabka and his croonies had personality you hated them and even cheered for Johnny at times, Daniels mom, Lucille had ridiculous personality, even sensei was personable. I felt too much was rushed and an attempt to include nostalgia. Chan was decent in here, but he and Jaden did not bond well at all, nor did Jaden and his mother. This was not a role for Taraji, Elise Neal would have been better. The girl was just thrown in for the sake of a cute girl and introduction to the bully, which takes me to my final point..
Character development: It is hard to have cohesiveness and chemistry if your characters are poorly developed. Yes this is a Karate Kid remake and don't lie and say its not, some of the exact same dialogue, exact same scenarios, changing the country and training/learning tools does not make it a re-imagining, a re imagined film doesn't use anything pre existing. But how you can not build the characters is beyond me. Again, Dre's mom was just in their for the sake of Dre having a mother. She did a lot of non sensible things. I mean where did she work for heavens sakes? We knew Lucille was working at the computer place and then the orient restaurant. She let him just do kung fu with Mr. Han without any knowledge of him. Han didn't fix a bike or anything. Lucille knew Miyagi he did a few things before befriending Daniel. Johnny the spoiled brat had great development, Ali from the hills, Sensei the Vietnam vet who was militant. Can you honestly tell me why the bully in this remake was the way he was and who in the hell was sensei, what is his background? The story telling was simply awful, everything was just plain rushed. So I am not going to bash this movie because of Jadens braids or his skin color or because of his rich daddy. I am recommending not to see this because its flat out boring. My 10 year old daughter finds joy in almost any film, she fell asleep on this one, we were at the drive in, people where driving away. Oh and Jadens dialogue near the end before his absurd comeback, sounded like he was tired of filming and just wanted to get the lines over with. Ralph may not be stellar, but at least you cared about his character and the supporting cast. Remove the characters from this film and see what difference it makes. Meaning, if you take out Ali from KK1, you will feel something is missing. Remove the chick from this one and any cause could replace her, not saying she wasn't good at her role, it just wasn't memorable or necessary.
I'll put it like this, when you walked away from the original KK and even to this day, you don't call Pat Morita, Pat Morita, you see his photo and you say "that's Mr. Miyagi" you see Ralph, you don't call him Ralph, you call him Daniel -san" Their characters were believable. you walk from this and its Jaden and Jackie Chan. I hope JW (Jerry Weintraub) got paid good for this, because this is beneath him. Poor character development, poor story. The end