The Karate Kid - Movie Review

Speaking of eye-rollers, not a few cynics grumbled when they heard that Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith were bankrolling "The Karate Kid" as a vehicle for their son, Jaden. But the serenely self-possessed 11-year-old, while at times uncannily resembling his father, manages to carve out a screen persona all his own. As Dre Parker, who with his mother, Sherry (Taraji P. Henson), has just moved to Beijing from Detroit, he brings a soulful, searching sense of vulnerability to a kid who comes under attack from bullies on his first day in town. After a particularly brutal beat-down, Dre is defended by his apartment house caretaker, a quiet introvert named Mr. Han (Jackie Chan).
When Han -- who turns out to be a kung fu master -- goes up against the crumbums who have been terrorizing Dre, he does so largely with defensive moves that wind up literally tying the belligerents into knots. Thus does "The Karate Kid" honor the ancient Hollywood art of serving up bone-crushing violence with enlightenment on the side: Though the filmmakers invite viewers to wince and cheer during the film's increasingly painful fight scenes, they make sure to soften the blows with wise tutorials in self-discipline, respect and balance.