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June 27th, 2010

Movie Review - Karate Kid

Karate Kid

Starring: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P Henson, Zhenwei Wang

Premise: Dre Parker is dragged off to China when his mom gets transferred. When he shows interest in a girl there, he becomes the target of a bully and his passe. Getting beat up and embarrassed several times in public, Dre tries to get revenge on his own rather than go to anyone for help. While successful, this ploy still backfires, and as the bully takes things too far he is saved by Mr Han. Yet in trying to get the bullies to quit by visiting their kung fu teacher, Dre instead finds himself being signed up for a Kung Fu tournament.

Review: When doing some quick research to prep this review, I came across something so basic that I missed it made me have a "I could have had a V8" moment. The original Karate Kid and this new remake neither have to do with the actual art of Karate. Both use disciplines from Kung Fu. Yet in all this time after all the hundreds of Kung Fu movies and other martial arts films I've watched, it never registered. Doh!

Anyway, lol, major kudos in the movie for Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, and Zhenwei Wang and his passe. Truly lots of good acting was to be had here. Loved to see Jackie Chan pushed to ooze out his talent in more than just martial arts. He had a lot of very subtle touches for expressing the inner things he was dealing with way long before we found out what had wounded his spirit. But the subtlest thing he did was a total homage to Pat Morita and his role of Mr Miyagi in the original Karate Kid. And how did he do that? Watch the way he walks. It's not Jackie's usual way but that of Mr Miyagi's played by Pat Morita. For super fans, a very squeeable moment. lol.

For Zhenwei Wang, who plays Cheng, you can tell how good he is when you see him as himself during the credits. Night and Day folks! Cheng is full of hatred and it so radiated from this kid, it was eerie. Eek! Some great emotional bits from some of his friends too. Stuff that totally transcended the language barrier.

Jaden Smith also did a great job. You can see a lot of his father in this film. He's going places. Even better, I loved how you could see his body change as he progressed in the training. And not just from what was scripted.

The film itself is a little slow at the beginning, but nothing terrible. You do see China as it is, the old and the new. Not a spruced up version for a movie. So the realism was very nice and appreciated. Plus they take us several places which were fun to see like the Forbidden City (I wanted MORE!), the Wall of China, even a cool remote monastery. Some very visually stunning shots.

Because they took longer, they were also able to make this story version quite complex. The amount of sub stories were amazing to me. Yet if you weren't paying attention, they were also easy to miss. The film was quite deep. They handled things like being new to a foreign country, fighting fear, obsessions (many facets of this were explored), the influence of teachers on students and how it truly can shape their students, focusing on a goal, sometimes to the person's detriment, familial expectations and how they can crush our own desires. Also the nuances of what kung fu stands for and how it can be warped. Respect both earned and forced. People's capacity for self destruction. This sucker was chocked full of stuff.

The fights during the tournament and elsewhere were kick-ass. And of course it would not be a true kung fu movie without some Chinese mysticism thrown in, which we got a bit of through some ancient medicine practices and also the cool monastery. We even get some culture thrown in and one of China's more famous legends.

My biggest disappointment was they never tell us if Meiying made getting into the school or not! Argh! I wanna know! (You get a feeling she did from the judges faces, even as the disapproval glared from her teacher, but still. I wanted confirmation darn it!)

The movie won't slap you with awesomeness, but will still nicely satisfy. If you notice some of the hidden gems along the way, even more so.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



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The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


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It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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