For everyone that is a fan of karate, they should automatically know this is a Japanese artform of self-defense. The title does no justice to the movie. I will give you several examples. Jaden Smith’s character(Dre Parker) moves from Detroit to China with his mother played by Taraji Henson. Dre is trained by maintenance man and kung fu master played by Jackie Chan. As we all know, Jackie Chan is one of the most popular action stars in the world.
In the original version, Ralph Macchio’s character(Daniel LaRusso) moves with his mother from New Jersey to California and learns karate from Mr.Miyagi(Pat Morita), a maintenance man from Japan. Even though Jackie Chan portrayed his role well, he can never fill the void left by beloved Japanese-American actor Pat Morita. He played a major role in making “The Karate Kid” series one of the most successful series in movie history starring Ralph Macchio.
For example, my favorite movie from the series is “The Karate Kid Part II” because it gets the setting right. During the scene when Mr. Miyagi receives a letter from his dying father in Okinawa, Japan it sums up where karate comes from.
Therefore, coming back to my earlier point, the title and plot does not match up with each other. The movie would be much better if the producers had changed the title to “The Kung Fu Kid” in reflecting Chinese culture. Another solution would have been to set the movie in Japan and create the plot around the theme of karate. In staying true to the art of karate, they would have cast a Japanese actor to play the role of a karate teacher to Jaden Smith.
Many people do not understand that Chinese and Japanese are two completely different cultures. Whenever Hollywood casts a movie from a cultural standpoint, they are mostly concerned about how much money it will make at the box office.
As a result, the movie going public becomes unaware of what they are watching on the screen in thinking all Asian people look alike and sound Chinese or Japanese. Whenever Hollywood does a movie that deals with a specific culture, they should educate themselves about the culture first before putting something out there.