The Times – This new Karate Kid kicks where it hurts, by Sathnam Sanghera

This is the most incredible tale of WTFness, but this really takes the cake:

One of the biggest problems with the new film is the change of setting. Instead of moving from New Jersey to California as a result of his single mum’s new job, the karate kid moves from Detroit to Beijing. While this dislocation could have been used to deepen and highlight the alienation of the main character, China is instead used in the way that a five-star hotel might be used in a hip-hop video: as a bland backdrop.

Apart from a local asking the Smith character if he can feel his hair, the film-makers choose to ignore the many cultural implications of bringing a black American family to Beijing, with the superficiality of their engagement with the country being further reflected in a few lame jokes about chopsticks, the refusal to acknowledge that China might have problems with things such as pollution and censorship, and in the fact that the kid doesn’t learn karate, which is Japanese. He actually learns kung fu. A significant cultural difference that the scriptwriter attempts to dismiss with the line: “Kung fu, karate, what’s the difference?”

Well, it’s enough of a difference for the film to be marketed as The Kung Fu Kid in China and Best Kid in Japan and South Korea.


Anyway Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong star.