The Karate Kid


Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37

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Critic Reviews

  1. 91
    What's fun is how the new Karate Kid embraces and vastly improves the cliches, keeping the plot cleverly updated for a generation that never heard of Ralph Macchio.
  2. 88
    If you've seen “The Karate Kid” (1984), the memories will come back during this 2010 remake. That's a compliment.
  3. Jaden Smith is destined to be a star by the force of will (and wallets) of parents Will and Jada Smith, both producers on The Karate Kid. But he's also got the raw material.
  4. Given the dreck we’ve seen this summer, it’s nice to be reminded of the virtues of clean storytelling and cultural curiosity.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Jaden may have to carry the burden of family celebrity, even as he carries his new film. Expertly.
  6. Fun, and believable, on the most important level: It convinces us that Jaden Smith has what it takes to fight his way to the top.
  7. The kids in the movie, from musicians to marital artists, are unusually skillful, and Smith seems assured of more starring roles. By the end of The Karate Kid, we can't help cheering, even when we know we've been sucker-punched.
  8. The kung fu sequences, although enjoyable, probably would not make the Jackie Chan Top 10. However, Chan's acting is his most affecting since the 1993 policer "Crime Story."
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The one thing that should have been changed but hasn’t is the title, which makes no sense at all in a movie about kung fu.
  10. 75
    The new Karate Kid brings fresh life and perspective to the classic tale of perseverance and cross-generational friendship, thanks to Harald Zwart's sensitive direction and two exceptionally appealing stars.
  11. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Solidly entertaining.
  12. Ultimately, it's a formulaic sports movie for kids that hits the expected dramatic beats.
  13. A fine, fun remake of a movie that updates, transplants and reimagines the original without sacrificing its heart or goofy charm.
  14. The casting is perfect, and the resetting of the story to China allows for a satisfyingly cinematic retelling.
  15. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    It's a sign of that pic's dramatic durability that "Kid" manages to be as absorbing as it is, despite its nearly 2½-hour running time.
  16. 70
    If only the director had learned Mr. Han’s most important lesson: Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.
  17. The Karate Kid will probably work best for young audiences unaware of its predecessor – or of much of anything else for that matter.
  18. 67
    A winning update of a classic piece of Eighties' filmmaking, and that in itself is something of a coup.
  19. 63
    The problem with the film is that that story, hackneyed when it first made it to the screen in 1984, has grown only more tired over the past 26 years.
  20. Jackie Chan co-stars in Morita's old role of the humble maintenance man who coaches the Bullied One. The older Chan gets, the simpler and truer he becomes as a performer.
  21. Does the movie have anything new to say, anything different from John G. Avildsen's 1984 original, with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita? Not particularly.
  22. A kung fu kick of a film that hits more than it misses.
  23. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    If I had a child near Dre's age, I'd drag him or her out of "Marmaduke" and into The Karate Kid--but not before requiring an at-home screening of the still unsurpassed original.
  24. Reviewed by: James White
    Smith might be the focus, but while he’s got the charisma and the moves, it’s Chan who makes it punch above its weight. Nice scenery too.
  25. 58
    That the film works as well as it does--as an attractive, rousing time-passer for children--speaks more to the endurance of a good formula than its revitalization.
  26. It's a measure of the times that the new version of The Karate Kid manages to be longer and bigger-budgeted than the original while having lesser impact.
  27. 50
    There is the impression, deadly to the sense of fun, that the talent here actually thought they were remaking a classic.
  28. 50
    At two hours and 15 minutes, the new Karate Kid takes an absurd amount of time to get to that “big match.”
  29. This is a smart departure for Chan, who's been wasting his talent in mediocre comedies; the other actors don't fare as well. The plot takes forever to get rolling, and the movie is hamstrung by numerous tourism sequences.
  30. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Despite the local color, the movie isn't especially globalized. The major characters all speak English, and the action sequences throb to the music of Lady Gaga, the Roots and Gorillaz.
  31. You could also say it's like they're likable tourists on a quest to plunder an endearing movie that didn't need this mediocre remake.
  32. 50
    Short review of three little words: Way. Too. Long.
  33. 50
    Is this Karate Kid as good as the original? No, although it is better than the sequels. But why bother with nostalgia? It’s probably good enough.
  34. At times, the movie feels less like a coming-of-age tale and more like an extended promo for the Chinese tourism bureau.
  35. Smith’s charisma isn’t always an asset to the movie though. Unlike the unknown Macchio in the original Kid, there’s nothing vulnerable about Smith except for his diminutive size, which is its own problem.
  36. 38
    A popcorn picture that thinks it’s “The Last Emperor,” The Karate Kid is about as likely to grab your youngster’s attention as any other propaganda film made by the Chinese government.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 228 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 45 out of 78
  2. Negative: 17 out of 78
  1. Sep 28, 2011
    "The Karate Kid" is a pretty good remake of the 1980's version. Jackie Chan is always cool, but unfortunately he is the only person that"The Karate Kid" is a pretty good remake of the 1980's version. Jackie Chan is always cool, but unfortunately he is the only person that handles the movie wisely. Don't expect anything from Smith's kid. Full Review »
  2. Jun 26, 2012
    Jaden Smith's first star vehicle The Karate Kid (the movie was sold out since the 11:15am show when I saw it) I was trulyJaden Smith's first star vehicle The Karate Kid (the movie was sold out since the 11:15am show when I saw it) I was truly impressed as I only went in with modest expectations. Not only was it a very good remake, it's the best movie so far this summer, and it stands on it's own two feet and surpasses the original in a lot of ways (which one is better will probably be generational. From the standing ovation these kids at the theater I attended gave this film I'm pretty sure from 15 or so on down, it will be this one.) But first off, let me start by saying this: To anyone who doubts that Jaden Smith can act (which he ironically already proved in The Pursuit of Happyness), is a star, or deserved this movie: See The Karate Kid. I don't care how you see it. Pirated. Bootleg. Or the old fashion way (like I saw it cause I'm cool like that) by buying a frickin' ticket and sitting in an auditorium with a bunch of cheering 10 year olds (I swear I've never seen kids give a movie a damn near standing ovation like they did during this film's finale). Jaden Smith has just silenced his haters. From here on out, if you don't like Jaden Smith: fine. Whatever petty reason you've given yourself to make you not like an innocent 10 year old. Fine. But you can't say he's not talented. Cause he is. If nothing has proven it to you before, THIS will. He carries the film on his little shoulders, shows leading man qualities (has a 10 year old ever done that?!?!? And Im being serious here). Has a ten year old ever acted in a film and not only carried it but possessed the charm, charisma, quick wit, comedic timing, dramatic presence and physicality of a hero all in the same movie?!?!? I shutter to think, I couldn't think of any leaving the theater. If they have, please point them out to me so I can say bravo to them to. His performance was truly great and the fact that he did all of his own stunts and clearly learned kung fu and looks not only believable but in command of the craft is some sort of a mini-miracle. This little dude is miniature Will Smith of the highest caliber. He WILL be a star (pun, intended). Only thing can stop that is, well, him. Barring any personal issues, the kid will go far. Very far. He has it all. And as cliche as it may sound the biggest development to come out of the Karate Kid is that "A Star is Born". Don't believe me: watch it for yourself. But I digress, I only spent so much time on the Jaden issue because all the unwarranted hatred thrown his way is beyond disturbing. I have never seen such vitriolic speech directed towards a kid in my life. Not even the kid from Problem Child and he was a certified a-hole! But anyway, the movie is good. Jackie Chan was surprisingly really good (and I mean really really good like Oscar-nominee good) in a dramatic turn as Dre Parker's mentor. The action was better than the original's and the heart and soul was just as engaging and entertaining. Though lacking the iconic "wax on, wax off"-moment what they do with "jacket on, jacket off" was truly surprising and pretty good stuff when you realize what Mr. Han was really teaching him. Instead of the "Crane Kick" we do have another pose and it's pretty damn good too. To me, the original will always be special. I remember Daniel-son, and Mr. Miyagi is a fuggin' legend in every sense of the word. I'm actually utterly surprised this remake was so well made and engaging. Even though every one in the theater knew the outcome, everyone was still cheering and/or elated and moved by the movies "big moments". That in itself is pretty impressive. It's like if people were still surprised even though they knew who the killer(s) were in Scream 4 before seeing it. Could you imagine that? Yea, I couldn't either. Which is why I'm surprised at how good this remake was. Full Review »
  3. Nov 28, 2011
    This movie is a great remake of an awesome movie. It paves a decent story and has a pretty good set of characters. The film changes theThis movie is a great remake of an awesome movie. It paves a decent story and has a pretty good set of characters. The film changes the background of the original, and does it well. The choice of using kids instead of teenagers wasn't good, and makes the movie slightly takes a downside turn. This movie is great otherwise and is very underrated. Full Review »