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Archive for October 1st, 2010

Friday Feature: “The Karate Kid”

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There’s probably no worse reminder of your own mortality than the idea of remaking a movie. “How long has it been since they made the original?” you wonder in silent horror. “Was it that long ago? Have people forgotten that quickly? Am I that old?”

There’s no accurate litmus test to determine when the best elapsed time between originals and remakes is. George Clooney’s Ocean’s 11 came out in 2001, 41 years after the original Rat Pack vehicle. When Peter Jackson remade King Kong in 2005, 72 years had passed since the original stomped into theatres. (Jackson’s Kong was of course the second major remake, after a modernized version in 1976.) Even the terrible remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Pyscho in 1998 was 38 years behind the original.

But earlier this year, a head-scratching remake of The Karate Kid – a really good coming-of-age film that’s really reflective of the mid-1980s, when it was made – was put into theatres. And despite the relatively tame 26-year gap, it was a smash hit, outpacing the original in raw grosses. But while kids may have loved it, older moviegoers may have wanted more. Where was the actual karate? (The remake utilizes kung-fu techniques.) Where were the eccentricities and conflict in the mentor character? (Jackie Chan may be a funny enough actor, but didn’t have as rich a backstory as Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi.) And where was the captivating soundtrack?

While James Horner wrote a serviceable score and teen sensation Justin Bieber (with help from Jaden Smith, star of the remake and son of rapper-turned-actor Will Smith) recorded a theme for the film, it doesn’t make the kind of album you’d hear from ’80s youth-oriented films. The new Karate Kid will continue to pick up fans – especially when it’s released on DVD next week – but for now, let’s wax off of the old and wax on with a look back at the music of the original Karate Kid series.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 1, 2010 at 12:08