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Entries in Karate Kid/The [2010] (1)

Sunday
Oct102010

The Karate Kid (2010)

Bland Recognition

I was about to post my review of the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, when a message popped up in my Junk Mail.  It was a letter from Colby Levinson, the father of an aspiring child actor living in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the subject line read, “The New Daniel”.

Mr. Levinson’s missive shed more light on The Karate Kid in 912 words than my rambling 2500 ever could—part critique, part behind-the-scenes dish, part touching biography, I felt compelled to ask if I could simply post his letter instead.

He agreed, and I’m proud to present the unedited Mr. Levinson…

The New Daniel

Colby Levinson <unlevind@ralncnet.com. >

Sent:  Sat 10/9/2010

To:  commentcard@kickseat.com

Attn:  Ian Simmons

Love the site.  I read your leaked Iron Man 2 transcript last summer and thought maybe you’d be interested in my story.  It’s kinda the same thing, but with the Karate Kid reboot.

A couple summers ago, my son and me went to an open casting call for a big Hollywood movie that no one knew what it was.  Frankie has wanted to be an actor since my wife and I took him to see Rob Zombie’s Halloween when he was 7, and the ad on the radio said they were looking for kids about his age (10 at the time).

When we got to Carson Studios, near Oxfork, we found out the movie was a new version of The Karate Kid.  The casting director got the five hundred or so of us parents and our kids worked up pretty good when she told us WILL SMITH would be helping out with the auditions cause he was co-producing on the movie.  Francisco loves I am Legend, it’s his favorite movie after the first half of Hostel Part 2.  But anyway, the audition lasted 13hrs and by the time we got up there, Will looked pretty tired and the director Harald Zwart (who did the overlooked Pink Panther 2 with Steve Martin) wouldn’t get off his blackberry.

Frankie did the scene where Daniel’s laying on the cot at the big fight at the end and Mr. Miyagi’s about to heal his leg.  He did aweseome.  He cried so realistically that the casting lady got teared-up.  My boy captured everything that made Ralph Macchio’s performance in the original so believable—the defeat, the sincere need to prove to HIMSELF that he could stand up to the bully’s.

When he was done, though, the director looked at Frankie then at Will then back at Franky.  “Um” he said in a thick Dutch accent, “We’re looking to go colder.”  “Could you try that again without so much emotion?”

Franky went again, and I could see him struggling to pull back a little but I could also tell he didn’t understand how you could play a scene like that and NOT be imotionally invested.  After the second time, Will Smith said, “All these kids we seen today just cry and blubber an’ shit.  Dre needs to have some ATTITUDE, nomsayin’?”

Franky, God bless his heart, spoke up and said “Mr. Smith, don’t you mean DANIEL needs to have some attitude?”

The director got a real nervous look in his eye and quickly stepped in. “No, little boy.  Mr. Smith has made it very clear that this is a unique take on a classic tale.  Our hero’s name is Dre Parker, and he’s very different from Daniel Larusso.”

“What about Mr. Miyagi?”

“It’s Mr. Han, li’l dude.” Said Smith.  “Harry, let’s get someone else in here.  Shit, my boy Jaden would make a better Dre than all these li’l bitches.”

Before I could say anything to Mr. Fourth of July, we were led from the stage to a holding area where we had to sign releases about not talking about the movie until it came out (and for some reason the Church of Scientology).  One of the moms in line with her son whispered to me that she didn’t want to move to China anyway, and I said “what”?  She said she’d heard that the new movie took place in China and was about globalization.

Needless to say Frankie didn’t get the part and we didn’t see the movie in theatres but I torrented it this week.  It’s terrible.  I mean, it’s almost two-and-a-half hours long and there’s maybe twenty minutes total of martial arts in it.  Also, it’s called The Karate Kid, but they CLEARLY say in the movie that they’re training in Kung Fu.

And Jaden Smith’s Dre is an obnoxious little shit who doesn’t have any common sense or empathy.  He also you can tell learned how to act by watching his dad’s movies cause all he does is mug and give these cute line deliveries that you’ve seen in Men in Black 2 and Hitch.  Jackie Chan’s okay as Mr. Han, but half his dialogue is right out of a fortune cookie, plus he does this thing where he does this ritual every year where he rebuilds the car that his family was killed in and then demolishes it on the anniversary of the car crash; he’s a damn sociopath or something.

Me and my friends watched this movie and were so bored that the only way we got through it was to play a drinking game about the inappropriateness of Han and Dre’s relationship (not to get too vulgar, but when Han says, “Jacket of!” he literally sounds like he’s saying “Jack it off!”).  We were tanked by the time of the big ending tournament, which is just a cheap imitation of the original..

I’m not gonna let Frankie watch the new one when the original Karate Kid is so much better.  It’s a knock-off of Rocky, but it’s got all the heart of the movie it was based on (not to mention “You’re the Best Around” on the soundtrack).  Everything about the remake is boring and insulting and I’m glad my family didn’t have anything to do with it (though it would’ve been a great paycheck).

Keep on doing your thing, man.  And, hey, when’s part two of your Thomas Jane story coming out?  It’s been like a month.

Yours truly,

CL

Note:  I just received a follow-up e-mail from Colby.  He said Frankie just landed a part in The Pink Panther 3, playing Inspector Clouseau’s wisecracking nephew, Dominic.  I’m not sure whether to wish him good luck or not, but I imagine the money’s pretty nice—and it’s got to be a more dignified role than Dre Parker.