Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kung Fu Kid and Portable Games

I just got back from seeing "The Karate Kid" with my brother and his wife. Fun times. Good movie!

A year or two ago, when I first heard that there was a remake in the works for "The Karate Kid" starring Will Smith's kid and Jackie Chan, I flipped out. Well, not really, but I was disgusted with the concept that Jackie Chan should replace Pat Morita as the new Mr. Miyagi. And I was also upset that Jackie Chan would have anything to do with "karate," as he has always performed and represented Chinese martial arts (kung fu) and not Japanese martial arts (karate). So this concept just blew my mind and got me upset.

As time passed on and the movie was in production, I kind of forgot about it. Whenever it was brought up, I usually just dismissed it as something ridiculous. Then I saw a trailer, and I had mixed feelings (mostly confusion). In the trailer, you can clearly see kung fu as the martial art featured in the movie. Jackie also clearly says "I will teach you 'real kung fu.'" Not a lick of karate. Anywhere (at least in the trailer). So, my opinion changed to, "The movie could be good, but IT'S NOT KARATE! THEY SHOULD CHANGE THE TITLE."

So I went in there today with that mentality. That the movie could be good (and probably would be), and to try my damnednest to forget the title. Luckily, I didn't have to. By the end of the film, I feel that the movie has made up for the fact that it was called "The Karate Kid" in the US. (In Japan and China, it's called "The Kung Fu Kid" [note: I still think they should have called it "The Kung Fu Kid" here in the states]. In South Korea, it's called "Best Kid.") This 2010 remake of the 1984 movie of the same title pays lots of homage to the original in many ways, from the story telling to the teacher's antics. But the main reason why I think the movie makes up for its incorrect title is a key line in the movie: Dre's mom says something about him wanting to practice "karate," and he snaps back, "it's not karate!". Her next response indicates the common misconception people have about kung fu, karate, and the naming of martial arts. "Kung fu, karate..." something or other.

The filmmakers undoubtedly wanted to cash in on using a recognizable title, so they opted for "The Karate Kid" even though they considered "The Kung Fu Kid." Plus, the movie really does fit in as part of the "Karate Kid" series; without mention of "kid" in the title, movie critics would be calling out the film for its blatant ripoffs of the original. Even the last sequence was...nevermind, I won't spoil it. :-)

This movie did have a few annoying quirks. Jaden plays a prepubescent kid with an attitude. Sure, lots of kids that age are like that. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. The kid is disrespectful and rude at times, and he doesn't improve by much by the end of the movie. Too many times, the audience (at least I did) feels that Dre should be more respectful to his teacher at that point; but I guess it's good that he didn't do such a quick "I'm a good boy all of a sudden" kinda deal, to maintain the realism.

I'm very satisfied with this movie. It's a good movie, and I would recommend it as a movie for parents to take their kids (12 and up) to see. Jackie and Jaden do excellent jobs with surprisingly good acting. It's a feel good movie and a modern martial arts movie for kids. Watching it reminded me of my childhood and how I grew up watching movies like 3 Ninjas, Sidekicks, and Surf Ninjas. And of course TMNT. Anyway, go watch this movie. It's good. And also don't forget that "karate" is a Japanese martial art and they should have changed the title anyway. Oh well.

The other thing I wanted to mention briefly, which I should have made a post about yesterday, are portable games. I mentioned in my last post that I was playing with my aunt's Nintendo DSi XL. Well since then, I had been playing Picross 3D and Tetris on her DSi, and Crisis Core, Patapon 2, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on my PSP. And I must say, I've made great use out of that PSP, having played games like Patapon, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Kingdom of Paradise, and Final Fantasy Tactics. And with the re-release of a bunch of PSX (or PSone for you young'uns) games on the PSN to play on the PSP, Sony's hand-held is a pretty awesome system.

I'm gonna take this baby with me to Japan, and the various games I have for it. It'll do well to help pass the time while I travel. Now the question is, will Sony reveal anything at E3 this week? Nintendo is bound to steal the show with their 3DS. Can't wait to see!

Word of the day: 功夫 「カンフー」 "kanfuu", or kung fu. Also pronounced 「くふう」 "kufuu", but that's actually a different word with the same spelling and different meaning (skill, art, labor, or effort, in Chinese).

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