[Editor's Note: since the Chinese government exercised editorial control over the new Sony remake of The Karate Kid, LFM has decided to invite an officially sanctioned Chinese film critic, People's Film Commissar Wo Fat, to do a guest review of the film. This review has been translated from the original Mandarin by Jason Apuzzo, a long-time friend and golfing-partner of Wo Fat's.]
By People’s Film Commissar Wo Fat. Greetings, dear readers of Libertas. It is my pleasure to accept Comrade Apuzzo’s kind invitation to review the new American-Chinese co-production of The Karate Kid. I feel that by reviewing this most extraordinary and historic cinema co-production on the arch-imperialist website Libertas, that we are opening up a new era of cooperation and understanding!
With special assistance from the Sony corporation, we have made several changes to your original Karate Kid, a warmongering, Reagan-era film that was pock-marked – like the blemished faces of your pimply American teenagers – with the backward, revanchist rhetoric of that era. In our new Karate Kid, we no longer have young New Jersey teenager Daniel and his economically disenfranchised mother seek a new life in the state of California. Instead, we have young ‘Dre’ – played with scrappy insouciance by Jaden Smith (son of your American movie star, Comrade Will Smith!) – seek his fortune in a more suitable land of opportunity: mainland China. In the new Karate Kid, a heartless American automotive company in Detroit shifts the job held by Dre’s mother to Beijing. Since America offers no other possible job opportunities for her, she is forced to make the only economically rational decision: move herself and her son 10,000 kilometers to the (Far) East, even though they don’t speak Chinese!
Once in Beijing, young Dre begins to learn salient facts about our glorious People’s Republic! For example, in his first encounter with Wise Mentor Jackie Chan, young Dre learns that unreliable electricity in Beijing has the side benefit of ’saving the planet’ – unlike in America, where a consistent power supply in suburban homes causes excess fuel consumption. True! [Jason Apuzzo asks: didn't this scene omit the fact that China is actually the world's largest polluter, and that millions of Chinese citizens have been forcefully moved from their homes to make way for the enormous, electricity-generating Three Gorges Dam? [Comments edited by Wo Fat.]
Young Comrade Dre also develops a schoolboy crush on a cute Chinese girl named Meiying (played by Wenwen Han). Meiying is an aspiring violinist, trying to rise in China’s glorious and edifying music world. Dre’s vitality and rough American charm (son of Will Smith!) warms her heart, and brings added zest to her music playing … and isn’t this a marvelous metaphor for Chinese-American cooperation? Young Dre even lets Meiying listen to hip-hop music off his Sony music player, a product that neatly matches the Sony computer screens and Sony TV monitors placed conspicuously throughout the film. The Karate Kid is part of the Sony product line, after all!
Anyway, young Dre’s growing affection for Meiying gets him in trouble with some local bullies who are friends of her family’s. And here I want to point out: the bullies depicted in this film are not normal figures in the New China. They are counter-revolutionaries, and enemies of the people! The People’s Republic has graciously consented to allow this depiction of anti-social behavior in order to further the plotline of Sony’s film, but the actors depicting these bullies have since been reprimanded and are currently serving 70 years’ hard labor in a coal mine in Shanxi.
Back to the story. These bullies are being trained at a local kung-fu academy run by a deranged megalomaniac who does an excellent job mimicking the behavior and body-language of your ‘tough-guy’ American film star from the original Karate Kid, Martin Kove. But again, this character is totally abnormal in the New China, and we are generally uncomfortable with the depiction of his kung-fu academy as a proto-military training ground for a new breed of Chinese aggressor. What was the American movie star (and Karate Kid co-producer) Will Smith thinking? Is this a prequel to Red Dawn?
As a means of resolving Dre’s burgeoning conflict with these counter-revolutionary, running-dog bullies, Wise Mentor Jackie Chan volunteers to train Dre for a kung-fu tournament at which the bullies will compete – and all scores will be permanently settled! And this is a good point at which to mention that The Karate Kid is not actually a movie about karate. It’s a movie about kung-fu, which is another thing we’ve changed from your original American film. ’Karate’ is a degraded martial art form that was picked-up by many American servicemen and their children (such as your fascist American film star Chuck Norris) during the Korean War and thereafter while they were stationed in the imperialist nation of South Korea, or in the despicable nation of Japan where ‘karate’ supposedly has its origins – although surely this is a hateful lie. We have corrected matters by returning the Karate Kid storyline to its natural origins in the bosom of mother China and her glorious kung-fu. I know that your LFM editor Jason Apuzzo, a former practitioner of the Tang Soo Do fighting style, appreciated this touch.
Back to the storyline (it’s hard to stay focused when there are so many lies to confront!). Once Dre is being trained by Wise Mentor Jackie Chan, the movie really picks up. Although Jaden Smith lacks the gawky authenticity of Ralph Macchio from the original film, he has a natural athleticism – and a 6-pack of abs – that make him convincing as a budding martial artist. As for his Wise Mentor Jackie Chan, he is an ongoing miracle to the cinema … an Eternal Flag-carrier of our Proletarian Culture!
His one fight scene in the film – in which he defends young American hot-head Dre from a gang of bullies – is a perfect example of the comic inventiveness and physical dexterity Chan has been bringing to the martial arts genre for the past thirty years. And all for the glory of the National People’s Congress!
Wise Mentor Jackie Chan and love interest Meiying take Dre on a picture-postcard tour of China, from the Forbidden City, to the Great Wall, to a picturesque mountain monastery where Dre has his pseudo-mystical initiation into the deeper ways of kung-fu. More or less. But Dre’s chaste romance with Meiying continues to cause trouble. Meiying’s strict, disciplinarian parents want her focused on her classic music training … not on hanging with Dre at a local karaoke, dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”! Dre and Meiying even kiss, in a scene we were forced to cut here in China so that our people would not be shocked by Western displays of carnality and licentiousness!
Fates collide in the last act of the film, when Dre takes on the bullies at the kung-fu tournament. Here Dre finally shows his mettle … but I wish to strongly object to the ending of this film! In fact, the People’s Republic of China will be lodging a formal protest with your wise leader, President Obama (who recently exhibited his wisdom by bowing to our Chinese President Hu Jintao). There is quite simply no way imaginable that our brave Chinese youth – even when they’re abnormal, anti-social bullies – could ever be overcome by such a scrawny, undisciplined, decadent American pipsqueak! A product of hip-hop, basketball and cheeseburgers! Such an outcome is impossible – and, indeed, suggests that America is still attached to certain pernicious and self-serving myths about the actual, real-world value of individual bravery and heroism. We will be contacting the World Trade Organization to determine whether this portion of the film – Dre’s final victory over the sneering, duplicitous Chinese youth – can somehow be excised from foreign film prints. Especially in Japan! Next time maybe this American child’s mother can just work for Ford instead of GM, and then we won’t have to put up with her over here … [Editor's note: Wo Fat's language becomes garbled and a bit hysterical here.]
In any event, Sony’s new Karate Kid is a historic film that should unite the peace-loving people of both China and the United States. It is very important that America’s youth see this film before the American film company MGM releases its counter-revolutionary remake of Red Dawn later this year. That film has the potential of reversing American-Chinese relations back decades, and undoing all the extraordinary work The Karate Kid is already doing to unite our peoples! All power to the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China!
[Editor's note: we are committed to promoting a diversity of ideas here at LFM, and so we wish to thank People's Film Commissar Wo Fat for his guest review today of The Karate Kid. Wo Fat is not only an old friend and golfing buddy of LFM Editor Jason Apuzzo, but is an officially sanctioned Chinese film critic. He is also the author of "Busby Berkeley: The Early Years."]