I enjoyed Harald Zwart’s remake of The Karate Kid far more than I expected to, and now it comes to Blu-ray and DVD I had to satisfy my curiosity as to my reaction: was it really as good as I thought, and if so was the set of extras good enough to make this worth a purchase?
The answer to both questions is yes, and I’m surprised how much fun this update is. I re-read my review of the film when it hit the cinemas and I stand by it all, suffice to say that Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan make an engaging duo, hitting each emotional and physical beat with great style and there’s fantastic movement and momentum to the film.
The production has a sense of scale which dwarfs the original, particularly in the physical landscape where Zwart uses the astonishing beauty of the Wudang mountains, the imposing presence of The Forbidden City and, of course, The Great Wall to great effect.
The extras on the disc surprised me and the ‘tour of China’, where you can select an area of China and a series of Behind the Scenes featurettes play out, are informative, economic and add much to the sense of history, the internal mythology of the place and the story, and also there are a few really nice anecdotes about shooing in some very unusual situations; it’s never boring, which sets it apart from the thousand other discs out there whose extras are EPK or vanity based nonsense.
It works incredibly well and it hooked me, something that these extras rarely do, add to this the fact that they are mostly in HD you get bonus features which enhance the appreciation of the film. For Jackie Chan fans there’s something fun: a excised fight scene between Chan’s Mr Han and the leader of the rival group, which is great fun to watch and really worth checking out. It provides a satisfying conclusion to the character of Mr Han, but at the same time is one climax too many, and it was a smart move of Zwart’s to remove it as the emotional beat of Dre’s win and the connection between him and Mr Han is served perfectly in the original version.
There’s a decent making of which begins with a look back at the 1984 version and is interspersed with some nice moments including the origin of the ‘Jacket On, Jacket Off’ device, and in complete contrast to the Nightmare on Elm Street making of I reviewed recently there’s a tangible desire to make the new film as big and and, more importantly, as good, as it can be rather than cash in on reheating an icon.
It’s a great film, one which I enjoyed even more the second time around and the Blu-ray package has been put together with care, with the twin objectives of going in depth to all stages of the production and also seeking to offer something worthwhile. They’ve done a great job.
And hey, there’s a music video of Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith doing ‘Never say Never’, so with this melange of treats they are spoiling you.
The Karate Kid is out on Blu-ray and DVD today.