Expansive, winning update of the 1984 franchise-starter cleverly reverses the cultural flow of the original. Here, twelve-year-old Dre (Jaden Smith) is the immigrant, a kid from Detroit who moves with his mother to Beijing for her work in the auto industry (ouch!). Dre’s thoughtful, somber teacher Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) is the native, instructing him in kung-fu to help him ward off the usual pack of martial-arts bullies. As an added bonus, the filmmakers shot the entire story on location in China, with majestic travelogue scenes of the Great Wall, Dragon Well, etc. For the record, 56-year-old Sing Lung (Jackie’s Chinese stage name) still has the moves, although deep in character as the sorrowful Mr. Han. Taraji P. Henson (as Dre’s mom) and Han Wenwen (as Meiying, the juvie love interest) add the necessary feminine touch amid the fisticuffs. Directed with obvious flat-world intentions by Dutch move-over Harald Zwart, from a screenplay by Christopher Murphey, drawn from Robert Mark Kamen’s story. The more accurate international title is The Kung-Fu Kid (140 min).
Director: Harald Zwart
Producer: Jerry Weintraub, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Dany Wolf, Susan Ekins and Han Ping
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji Henson, Wenwen Han, Rongguang Yu, Zhensu Wu, Zhiheng Wang, Jared Minns, Shijia Lü, Yi Zhao, Bo Zhang, Luke Carberry and Cameron Hillman