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Posts Tagged ‘Karate kid’

Not many remakes really stand well against the original, but the 2010 version of The Karate Kid is so true to the original that it holds its own.  Jaden Smith has a great screen presence, but is so small—even for the 12-year-old he is portraying–that it makes the physical punishment, the teacher-student relationship, and especially the little romantic involvement a little unbelievable for me. It is easier to imagine this particular story with an older teen like Daniel (Ralph Macchio) was in the 1984 version.

With younger actors, this movie feels more like a young kids movie, probably for 10-14 year-old boys. I wish they had left out the 12 year-olds kissing, and I thought the beatings and hitting were too harsh for this film’s intended audience—or maybe it was just the parents of the kids watching who were closing gasping.

I also found myself wishing they had not set up the Chinese as villains. Maybe I’ve seen too many Asian mob movies, but I’m not much for any film that encourages negative ethnic or nationalistic stereotypes to children, who might internalize a negative response to certain nations, much like kids did about Germany and Japan after WWII because of constant exposure to war movies and cartoons that were used as propaganda during and long after the end of the war.

I did love the beautiful photographic tour of China, although the narrative relationship of those trips was pretty thin.  I don’t know if the kids will even notice the scenery, but perhaps it will stick as somewhere they would like to go someday—to see the lady standing on one leg with the big snake in front of her!!

Here are some topics for talking to your kids after you’ve seen this movie together.

  1. Are the Chinese people mean? I’d love to know what your kids say if you ask them this question. Can they differentiate between the bullies and the Mr. Han—who is also Chinese? This conversation goes to my statement above about helping our children recognize good and bad are not national or ethnic characteristics.
  2. What would you do if kids tried to bully you like those boys did? Dre could have walked away from even the first fight, but he didn’t. He did not have to throw the bucket of liquid stuff on the boys to antagonize them. Most of the time, we have a choice about fighting. That’s the first lesson kids need to learn. Secondly, fighting generally leads to more fighting.  What finally won the respect of the bullies was not beating them up; it was achievement, excellence, competency, and courage—with integrity.
  3. “No weakness. No pain. No mercy.” This motto of the bad Kung Fu master is a great teaching moment to show that Jesus was the exact opposite. He gave Himself up, He suffered pain for us, and He is full of mercy!    Even our children will likely meet those coaches/instructors/mentors who think that there is one ethical standard for church and another for “real life,” where you do whatever it takes to win.
  4. You don’t get good at something without a lot of hard work. This fits in with our children learning delayed gratification.  If you haven’t read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, you should.  He argues that the great successes of people are a result of a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice for which other people either don’t have the opportunity or the patience.
  5. Was it more important for Dre to win or to continue in the match? It wouldn’t have been as good a movie for sure if he had lost, but it might have been truer to life for most people. We should acknowledge to our kids that life is not fair. Sometimes people cheat, and they hit us hard, and it hurts.  Our first choice—and maybe the only choice—is to either get up and continue, or to stay down and quit.  Even if you get up, you may not win—ask the US Soccer team about that! But you have greater self-respect and respect from others, if you choose to get up!

Good movies create real emotions. The Karate Kid is a good film, which is why audiences have clapped and cheered at the end of the film. You will have fun checking your own emotional responses against the ones your kids have. That will be the stuff of great conversation.

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