The Marquee Blog

'Karate Kid' actually kicks out a winner

Our instincts – and old adages – tell us that if something isn’t broke, we shouldn’t fix it, and that applies to classic 80s movies as well. Hollywood, on the other hand, lives by the rule of, “did it make money before? Then let’s do it again!”

Such is the case with "The Karate Kid" - in theaters this weekend - but despite the mixed feelings of the original “Karate Kid” Ralph Macchio and the public’s apprehension to see a “Karate” remake, the 2010 spin just may be worth checking out. The general consensus from critics seems to be, “have nothing better to do this weekend? Eh, why not?”

Although Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith financing this project as a vehicle for their 11-year-old, Jaden, did raise some eyebrows, reviewers seem to be taken with the young Smith, and count his budding acting skills as one of the chief reasons to spend cash on a theater ticket. Read on for the round-up:

New York Times
: “The Karate Kid” is very long ( 2 hours 12 minutes), dramatically thin and unevenly acted, but it was filmed almost entirely in China, mostly Beijing, and it has an unexotic, lived-in sense of place unusual in current Hollywood movies….Is this “Karate Kid” as good as the original? No, although it is better than the sequels. But why bother with nostalgia? It’s probably good enough. "Clocking in at nearly two and a half hours, the movie's a test of even adult endurance….At times, the movie feels less like a coming-of-age tale and more like an extended promo for the Chinese tourism bureau….But more than the scenery, the chemistry of the two leads is the film's greatest strength."

USA Today: "The film digs a little deeper emotionally than the original, which starred Ralph Macchio in the karate student role. At nearly 21/2 hours, however, it's padded with training montages and a stilted romance. The final tournament goes overboard in its effort to establish suspense....But even with these flaws, the film is solidly entertaining, mostly because of the endearing performances of Smith and Chan and its atmosphere of cross-cultural celebration."

Washington Post: "If you rolled your eyes when you heard about the remake of the 1984 hit that starred Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, get ready for a surprise. The new "Karate Kid" brings fresh life and perspective to the classic tale of perseverance and cross-generational friendship, thanks to Harald Zwart's sensitive direction and two exceptionally appealing stars."

Do these critics get it right, or are moviegoers better off renting the classic?