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Film / The Karate Kid (2010)

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"Life will knock us down, but we can choose whether or not to stand back up."
"Kung Fu lives in everything we do, Xiao Dre. It lives in how we put on the jacket, how we take off the jacket. It lives in how we treat people. Everything... is Kung Fu."
Mr. Han

A Continuity Reboot of The Karate Kid series that premiered in June 2010, borrowing elements of the first one but set in Beijing, China. Jaden Smith (Will Smith's son) plays the lead role of Andre "Dre" Parker and Jackie Chan is the old mentor, Mr. Han. There is almost no karate in this film; the lead character trains in kung fu instead.

Sits outside the main Canon of The Karate Kid Franchise.note 

The Karate Kid contains examples of:

  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Han gives Dre a white jacket at the end of his training.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Cheng is a sadistic little creep. The rest of the Fighting Dragons too, especially the teacher, Li who, true to the film's inspiration, is pretty much a Race Lifted John Kreese.
  • Artifact Title: Being set in China, the film uses kung fu rather than karate. The original title was "The Kung-Fu Kid" (with many of the film crew using that name during production), but producer Jerry Weintraub insisted on keeping the original title for brand recognition and marketing. due to its name recognition and nostalgia factor. To justify the title, they threw in a line about Dre knowing "a little Karate", Dre's mother mistakes Kung Fu for Karate, and the term is used as a derisive nickname a few times. There are a couple of scenes of Dre trying in earnest to use karate (albeit trying to learn from an infomercial or some such thing), although the results are less than indicative of the title.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: The kung fu tournament in the film seems to evoke the ruleset of ancient lei tai duels: it doesn't seem to have any dressing code, lacks protective gear of any kind, is full-contact, and allows throwing, submissions moves and even some striking on the ground. In real life, full-contact kung fu tournaments are usually held under sanshou/san da rules, which basically look like Kickboxing with some wrestling allowed, so they don't resemble the wild ruleset in the film at all (and needlessly to say, most legal combat sports in the world demand protective gear whenever they are geared to children).
  • The Atoner: Mr. Han tells Dre that he was distracted by an argument with his wife, and the crash killed her and his son, so he fixes up the car and smashes it up again on the anniversary of their deaths, hoping to atone for his guilt, which inspires Dre to train harder.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Han shows up and effortlessly defeats Cheng and his gang and stops them from beating up Dre.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Mandarin dialogue is left unsubtitled and untranslated, so viewers fluent in the language will pick up on plot points before Dre does. For example, viewers who knew Mandarin would have pegged Meiying's father as a potential source of conflict early on once they heard Cheng and Meiying's first conversation.
  • Bratty Half-Pint:
    • The kids who bully Dre are perfectly willing to attack an adult in their way. Unfortunately for them, it is a retired martial artist (aka Jackie Chan) who they are targeting.
    • Dre also shows a degree, especially earlier in the film.
  • Brick Joke: On Dre's first day of his new school, he's wearing the school uniform. The principal told both him and his mother that they only wear them on uniform day. Later on, it's the school field trip and it's also uniform day. Guess who's not wearing the uniform... Later he meets up with Meiying saying "Look, uniform on uniform day." This time he gets it right.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: When Dre gets beat up by Cheng's whole gang after provoking them into chasing him, we see for a moment that Dre was so scared he actually soiled himself.
  • Buffy Speak: "Fiery cup thing."
  • Calling the Old Woman Out: When Dre is pushed to a breaking point between the bullying, culture shock, and language barriers, he angrily and tearfully vents to his Mom that she's only concerned with how amazing Beijing is without taking Dre's feelings into account.
    Dre: (tearfully) You don't care what's wrong. All you care about is "how happy I am?" and "how great the ice cream is?" Well, I'm not happy. I hate it here! I wanna go home!
  • Clothing Combat: Mr Han uses one kid's jacket sleeves to tie up two other kids who are beating up Dre.
  • Clothing-Concealed Injury: Dre gets into a fight with one of the bullies at school, leaving him with a black-eye. The next day, he wears some of his mother's makeup and a hat to school to try and avoid suspicion. It fails when the teacher mentions that hats aren't allowed in school; his mother takes off the hat, seeing that he's wearing makeup and realizes that he's been in a fight. She panics over this while Dre tells her it's nothing.
  • Colour Coded Armies: The tournament. Dre is in white and Cheng and his team are in black and red. The other teams, which pretty much serve as cannon fodder, are dressed in green, purple, and blue.
  • Comforting Comforter: A rather sweet scene when Dre falls asleep onto Mr. Han's lap and a hesitating Mr. Han places a hand on his shoulder.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: The Chinese tend to stay silent out of respect after a performance of any sort. So after Meiying's recital, they were opt to remain silent. However, Dre, who came from United States, cheered and clapped. This invoked anger from his crush's father.
  • Crippling the Competition: Done twice by the Fighting Dragons, on Master Li's orders.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Cheng and his gang get effortlessly defeated by Mr. Han when he shows up and protects Dre. They're so outmatched that Mr. Han defeats them without throwing any strikes of his own.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: In their first fight, Dre manages to strike Cheng exactly once, but hard enough to briefly knock Cheng down. As with Daniel and Johnny before them, though, it's clear this hit barely hurt Cheng, and it only provokes him into beating Dre even more fiercely.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • Cheng is the one who gives Dre the winning trophy. Then, he and the other boys who had bullied and fought with Dre also pay their respects to Mr. Han. Master Li is also forced to congratulate Mr. Han's victory, much to his dismay.
    • Averted in the the alternate ending/deleted ending, in which Master Li doesn't suck it up. Mr. Han has to stop him from beating his students, to which Li starts a fight and Han humiliates him in front of an entire spectator crowd as a Mythology Gag to the original films. These scenes were taken out because the producers believed it took too much focus away from Dre's character winning.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it's still a family film and the ending is rather happy. The film overall has a way serious tone compared to the original Karate Kid. The environment and atmosphere too feels dreary, along with the occasional drama and Master Li's nature. It's still not as dark and mature compared to Cobra Kai, though.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: As part of Dre's training, Mr. Han takes him up a tall mountain to the Dragon Well, where drinking from it purportedly make one invincible. The well is a shallow fountain with a yin-yang symbol in the center.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • One of Cheng's cronies tells him to stop hurting Dre, after he has beaten him up significantly.
    • Even Cheng was genuinely shocked when his Master orders him to break Dre's leg in order to win the tournament.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Subtly done with Li in two scenes. First, when an injured Dre returns to the tournament, the tournament's spectators are impressed, but Li only mockingly applauds, suggesting that he considers Dre's slim chances of winning rather than his courage and fighting spirit. Later, when his own students show their respect to Mr. Han by bowing, he is shocked rather than angry. Which means that he fails to understand why young students would respect a successful, yet kind teacher.
  • Eye Cam: When Cheng beats Dre up for the second time, we see that Dre is so badly hurt that his vision is impaired.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: In the tournament, one of the Fighting Dragons is Ordered to Cheat and badly injures Dre's leg in an attempt to prevent him from participating in the final round. It nearly works, except Dre is too determined to give up.
  • Gamer Chick: Dre's talented at a DDR clone, but Meiying is somehow able to beat him while facing away from the screen and focusing mostly on upper body movement. This goes beyond the border of possibility, by the way; while there are people gifted and experienced enough to be able to play the game without looking at the screen, Meiying is doing it while barely moving her legs, when even the easier DDR songs still require at least a bit of footwork. The only plausible solution is that they are actually playing a game more similar to Just Dance or Dance Central, which are focused on body movement as a whole - and it still profiles Meiying as quite a gamer.
  • Genre Blind: The gang of bullies seem to think they can take on an adult man who has just exhibited an uncanny level of athleticism for a man his age and appearance. Unsurprisingly, the man is revealed to be a kung fu master and they get their asses kicked.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Justified, as Dre is horrible at Chinese and tries to learn bits and pieces. The Chinese people around him either speak English with a heavy accent or don't speak it at all.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Fighting Dragons bow to Mr. Han in respect after Dre defeats Cheng in the tournament finals, to Li's dismay.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: After Dre wins the tournament, Cheng and the other Fighting Dragon students bow to Mr. Han, accepting him as their new master.
  • Left Hanging: The subplot of Meiying practicing for an audition to be accepted to the Beijing Academy of Music. We see the audition, but never find out if she was accepted or not nor just what her instructor meant by "you know what this would mean for your family". We can only assume it was a matter of honor, like when Dre qualified for the tournament finals (even if just because his opponent was disqualified) and was told he honored his family.
  • Love Triangle: A bit of a case with Dre and Cheng who both have a crush on Meiying, who chooses Dre.
  • Magic Feather: They don't say it, but the Dragon Well that gives awesome kung-fu powers was just for a confidence boost. Possibly downplayed as the characters knew full well it was simply folklore and never actually believed that the well would grant any powers.
  • Mama Bear: In a deleted alternate ending scene, just before she departs, Sherry punches Li in the jaw for ordering his students to attack her son.
  • Martial Medic: In a Mythology Gag to the first film, Mr. Han applies the fire cup healing which enables him to continue in the tournament.
  • Moving Angst: Dre is not very happy about moving from Detroit to China because of his mother's job. That he ends up getting bullied by the local kids only adds to his unhappiness. At one point, he tearfully tells his mother he hates their new environment and calls her out for not taking his feelings into consideration.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • There's a scene where Mr. Han sees a fly and, after chasing it around with his chopsticks, whips out a flyswatter, smashes the fly against the wall, picks the fly off with his chopsticks, and continues eating with the chopsticks.
    • The trailer that featured this scene had "You're The Best Around" playing in the background.
    • Also, The Flying Dragons use a variation of "No Mercy" for their motto.
    • Mr. Han waxing his car.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Dre encourages Meiying to play hooky and skip school for a day, and she is almost late for her violin audition which was moved up a day. Meiying's parents are not pleased with this, and believe Dre to be a bad influence, forbidding her from seeing Dre. Luckily with Mr. Han's help, Dre apologizes to Meiying and her father and he allows Meiying to go to his tournament, as she made a promise to Dre and in her family, they never break their promises.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The first fight between Cheng and Dre does not go well for Dre at all. The protracted nature of Dre's beating is painful to watch, and disqualifies it from being a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Ordered to Cheat: Master Li orders two of the Fighting Dragons to break Dre's leg, telling them "I don't want him beaten; I want him broken" and "Break his leg."
  • Overprotective Dad: Meiying's father disapproved of his daughter's friendship with Dre because he saw him as a bad influence to his daughter, causing her to be late for her recital and forbade her from spending time with him. However, he turns out to be much more reasonable than the stereotypical version. When Dre respectfully approaches him and his daughter and apologizes (in phonetic Chinese) for bringing dishonor to their family, he reconsiders and is later seen actively cheering for Dre.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr Han acts like one of these and a friend to Dre. In return, Dre reminds Mr Han of his deceased son.
  • Parting-Words Regret: A very painful and realistic one for Mr. Han. During an argument with his wife while driving, they would end up in a horrific crash that would kill her and their son. Beyond the painful relatability of losing one's family so quickly, the fact that your last memories of them were arguing over something you cannot even remember just makes it feel worse.
  • Pet the Dog: A non-villainous example with Mr. Han (who acts like a bit of a jerk when he is first introduced). During the tournament, when Dre knocks one of the Dragons down, it is Mr. Han who helps him up. This little gesture is in sharp contrast with Li's behavior, who considers showing the opponent kindness a sign of weakness, and even mistreats his students.
  • Police Are Useless: The police are never involved considering six children attempted to assault an elderly man. Though if the police behaved as they're supposed to there'd be no movie.
  • Post-Game Retaliation: The alternate ending has Master Li doing this to his students after they lose to Dre. Mr. Han intervenes and trashes Li in a fight, contributing to his Humiliation Conga.
  • Puppy Love: Among Dre and Meiying, given their ages.
  • Recycled Title: Because "The Kung-Fu Kid" would have sounded silly. Ironically, in China, it's called "功夫梦" Gongfu Meng ("The Kung Fu Dream"); in Japan, and South Korea, it's called "Best Kid" (the same title that was used for the original movie in those countries), and "The Karate Kid" everywhere else.
  • The Remake: Of the 1984 film (see above).
  • Running Gag:
    • Possibly Dre's expression when he hangs up his coat for his mom. Mr. Han makes a point of making sure that "attitude" is there during Dre's "jacket-on, jacket-off" training and it has a spotlight shone on it when it shows up in the tournament.
    • People touching the Parker's hair. At one point, Dre's mother is surrounded by little kids who are happily playing with her hair. Absolutely Truth in Television, as foreigners with either important or distinctive hair in China have been mobbed by children wanting to touch it.
  • Serious Business: This is a tournament for young pre-teen kids and Master Li wants his students to break Dre's leg and defeat him completely.
  • Shout-Out: A black kid is bad at basketball and gets in trouble with a local gang of tough kids on the court? Must be genetic.
  • Stepford Smiler: Sherry is in just as much flux about moving from Detroit to Beijing as Dre, but she tries to make the best of it by putting on a sunny disposition and relentlessly trying to see the positives of their new environment for Dre's benefit. When Dre finally snaps she lets the facade drop, but she tells Dre that China is home since they don't have anything else in Detroit.
    Sherry: Dre, we can't go home, ok? There is nothing left for us in Detroit. This is what we've got. This is home. Ok?
    (Dre tearfully walks away, feeling that his mom doesn't get his point)
  • Surprisingly Good English: Some of the Chinese characters, including Mr. Han, Cheng, Meiying, and Mrs. Po, have a decent command of English. Truth in Television, as Beijing is an international city that deals heavily with the United States and other English-speaking countries, so it stands to reason that learning English is emphasized in China far more than learning Chinese would be for a United States resident like Dre.
  • Thug Dojo: It would hardly be a Karate Kid remake without one. In this case, we have the Fighting Dragon school.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Jacket on, jacket off, drop the jacket, pick up the jacket, jacket on... it also has the nice side effect of disciplining Dre for his attitude.
  • We Will Meet Again: Dre gets beaten up a few times. A truce is called, pending a tournament.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Harry disappears in the last third of the film except for a few blink and miss moments at the tournament given that Dre is able to better manage himself. Another case of Truth in Television though, as anyone who moves to a foreign land can attest that they will initially stick to people with a similar background (American nationality in the case of Dre and Harry) before integrating with the local populace.