The Karate Kid

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I once suggested a new Oscar category: "Best Performance for Doing That Kind of Thing That Jackie Chan Does". Unfortunately, that suggestion has not yet been implemented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so once again this year, Mr. Chan was denied his chance.

Will Smith's son, Jaden, plays "Dre", uprooted from his Detroit home and whisked off to Beijing when his mom gets a job there. He's very much a fish out of water, and (worse) gets on the wrong side of a bunch of Chinese bullies, who seem to enjoy beating up on him in increasingly humiliating fashion.

Coming to the rescue is Mr. Han, the reclusive handyman at the apartment where Dre lives. Since he's Jackie Chan, it's not particularly surprising when he turns out to be a Kung Fu master, and reluctantly agrees to train Dre.

It's fun to note the similarities and differences between this movie and its 1984 version, which starred the late Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio. (Jackie Chan waxes his own car, but demands Dre perform a different mystifyingly repetitious, mind-numbing task.) It runs 140 minutes, because in addition to the fish-out-of-water story and the standing-up-to-bullies story, there's also an innocent-but-forbidden-love story, and a gorgeous Chinese mini-travelogue.

And seriously: Jackie Chan is very, very good here. Jaden Smith is pretty good too, cute, charismatic, and funny.

Last Modified 2012-09-25 11:55 AM EDT