Nepotism Does Not Exist in this Dojo..

Posted 6/8/10 by D-Mac

Earlier this week, I was sitting there watching television with my sons when the commercial for the new “Karate Kid” came on. As I rolled my eyes, my older son, Max exclaimed, “Dad, can we go see the Karate Kid?”. My response to him was.. “Sure, next time we’re at Blockbuster, we’ll rent it..”. This obviously confused him as I mentally saw the gears turning in his head, wondering how we can go rent a movie that hasn’t even hit the theaters yet.. as I just sat there mentally going, “Lalalalala…” with my fingers stuck in my ears.

Now, I’ve sat through some extremely shitty kids movies and television shows over the past eight years..  Talking animals.. shitty cgi movies voiced by celebs.. dogs playing sports..  Hell, I’ve sat there and let my kids completely control the tv after dinner  over their lifetimes and I’ve seen every episode of Drake and Josh, iCarly, Spongebob and whatever else Nickelodeon has thrown our way.. but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Now first off, this new Karate Kid movie is pretty much a Will Smith muscle-flex, trying to jumpstart his son’s career and showing just how much clout he has in Tinseltown, that he can take a beloved 80’s movie and on a whim, find producers to bankroll it and insert his offspring into it. I had a birthday party for Max at the local bowling alley a few weeks ago.. and this is the Hollywood-elite equivalent of that..  “Hey, whaddya want for your birthday? Oh, you want to remake the Karate Kid? Sure.. let me make some calls.”

So, now let’s look at the trailer..

Alright, now in the original, it was enough of a stretch in the 80’s  that a single Italian mother from New Jersey would get a job offer from a computer firm in California and they would relocate her and her son across country.. but you’re telling me that the plot of this one, is that a single urban mother  (and just going by what the trailer shows and what Hollywood has taught me.. her child has cornrows and is named ‘Dre.. so I know they’re not from Bel Air but from the streets) gets a job offer in China? Seriously.. read that again. A single urban mother gets a job offer in China. =/ If Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that it’s damn near impossible for a single urban mother to find a man.. but now you want me to believe that one is getting an overseas job offer, from a company in a communist country no less?

Seriously, a single mother telling her young son, “Good news.. I got the job in China. We’re leaving next week.” sounds like something that barely made the cut for the Bad Idea Jeans commercial. At least in the original, when Daniel was whining that he wanted to leave sunny California to move back to Newark, NJ, you realized that he was just being whiny because he was getting his ass handed to him every other day.. In this case, “I wanna go home..” seems like a legitimate grievance for any kid that was forced to move to China.. ass kickings or not.

Now, not to toot my own horn.. but back in the day, I wrote an article about William Zabka, who played Johnny Lawrence in the original Karate Kid (and well,, toot toot.. but I kind of was the first person in the history of the internet that recognized  the “William Zabka – Complete 80’s Asshole Trilogy – and received a thank you e-mail from Zabka himself who told me that I completely nailed the  underlying message of the Karate Kid.

So, taking that at face value.. if the underlying message was that the original Karate Kid was a fish out of water story where the protagonist, Daniel Larusso came up against a bunch of kids who were under the spell of a Vietnam vet, who picked up karate while he was overseas.. and he mistaught these kids with a violent, Americanized version of karate that missed the point that it’s an artform which was to be used for self-defense.. and it took someone from the homeland of Okinawa (Mr. Miyagi) to teach Daniel the true values of karate to ultimately overcome his adversaries and redeem all of the kids in the process.. what does that say about the plot of this remake? That you can take a little black kid, send him over to China and after a few weeks of training, he can beat kids who grew up with “karate” as a way of life that had been handed down for generations? It’s a pretty ugly, imperialistic view of things; not to mention that Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was basically fired from CBS 20 years ago because he spoke the underlying racism that appears to be the  plot of this movie.

Karate Kid 2 was weak enough because it was a little unbelievable that Daniel could go over to Okinawa and even give Chozen a fight, nevermind beat him.. but now you’re going to use that kind of basis as the plot for the original in a reboot??  It’s insulting.. not only to Asian people but just to intelligence. Nevermind the fact that it’s not even karate that’s being taught here.. but Jackie Chan himself even refers to what he’s teaching.. kung fu. Even calling this movie the “Karate Kid” and having it take place in China would be like having a remake of the movie “Major League” be about a group of ragtag ballplayers come together for the Cleveland Indians to ultimately win the big game against the New England Patriots at the end.

I realize that it’s just a kids movie and probably nothing to get worked up over.. but you know what, looking down the pipeline and seeing that the “Red Dawn” remake is set to come out later this year.. with, once again.. the Chinese as the villains, I just have an irrational fear that soon enough, with the way things are going, we’ll be seeing a reboot of Rocky starring Nick Cannon, that has a montage that includes him running with a piece of wood behind his head that has two huge bowls of rice on each side as he trains for his big fight against Aporro Creed… and with a generation of Italian American kids now that have grown up with The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of NJ, etc.. the whole concept of the Italian underdog who overcomes adversity through hard work and perseverence ,which was Hollywood’s only saving grace when it came to portraying Italian Americans in a lovable yet determined light back in the day..  is being hijacked and we’re left with nothing but negative stereotypes which have actually gotten worse over the past ten years.

But I digress.. Now, sure there will be those out there that say that rebooting 80’s movies is no big deal and the originals will always still be there.  That’s the thing though.. coming from a generation of guys that grew up on 80’s movies and have a greater portion of our vocabularies dedicated to movie quotes than is probably considered psychologically healthy..  as a father of two young boys, there are some movies that I can’t wait for them to get a little older so that we can watch and enjoy them together. The problem is though, if you reboot them and then advertise the shit out of them on every kids channel; having Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan show up on every damn kids award show doing karate demonstrations over the past year.. the kids are going to want to see these remakes when they hit the theater and you’re effectively putting the parent in the conundrum of whether or not to take your kids to see these inferior products,;thus risking the kids not wanting to see the originals because now that they’ve seen the shiny new product and the originals are too old looking.. That in turn, will cause them to miss out on truly classic quotables like  “Get him a bodybag. Yeahhh!! “Sweep the leg.” “Points or no points, you’re dead meat.” “I hate this bike..” “I really like your car, Mrs. LaRusso..” etc, etc..  and it kinda sucks because as someone who has seen a lot of kids movies over the past decade, none of them are quotable like 80’s movies were in the least. Seriously, John Hughes probably had more quotable lines in one of his movies than all kid/teen oriented fare over the past decade. It’s not just rose tinted 80’s glasses talking here either..

Perfect example of this is a few months ago, I rented “The Goonies”. Not only did the kids absolutely love it and watch it about five times during the rental period.. but even now, a few months later, Max will randomly blurt out, “Rocky Road..huh huh..”. Now, if they remade it and deemed it politcally incorrect to have a deformed,  mentally handicapped guy chained to a chair and watching tv.. and they advertised the crap of that remake and Max begged me to see the remake in the theater and never got a chance to see the original first.. chances are for the rest of his life, he’d be walking down the freezer aisle and if he saw rocky road ice cream, no pop culture reference would even register with him.. and that my friends, is bullshit. 😉

So, while I would’ve liked to have waited until he was ten or so to watch the Karate Kid together.. Hollywood leaves me with no choice but to make a preemptive strike (Strike first? Strike hard? Show no mercy? You betcha..) and rent the original on Friday night.. and if he wants to see the remake afterwards, that’ll be fine too. I’m pretty confident that once you go Cobra Kai, you never go back..


2 Responses to “Nepotism Does Not Exist in this Dojo..”

  1. Antoine Romera Says:

    Appreciate you sharing, great article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  2. Adam Says:

    Hit the nail on the head mate. I’m disgusted theyd massacre a perfectly good movie liek the karate kid. It was one of my favorites growing up and still watch it every so often. I’ve seen the new one try hard not to judge it till id seen it all – but it doesnt have a thing on the original and feels so badly put together. Dunno how jackie chan could agree to such a bad movie.