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Jackie Chan stars in 'The Karate Kid' (except it should be called 'The Kung Fu Kid'')

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith star in 'The Karate Kid.'

Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, right, and Jaden Smith are shown in 'The Karate Kid.'

Jasin Boland/Columbia Pictures - Sony/AP

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The new “Karate Kid,” starring the frisky Jaden Smith and the charming Jackie Chan, is closely modeled, sometimes right down to camera angles and dialogue, on the 1984 hit starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.

That film came out of the rah-rah “Rocky” era, when underdogs always won (even if they didn’t). This may sound like our era, too, except that, in the movies, this particular formula is in semi-hiatus. The latest “The Karate Kid” will probably work best for young audiences unaware of its predecessor – or of much of anything else for that matter.

In this version, the 12-year-old boy, Smith’s Dre Parker, moves with his widowed, job-relocated mother (Taraji P. Henson) from Detroit to China, where he immediately warms to a cute violinist schoolmate (Han Wenwen) and is pounded by the local bully (Wang Zhenwei).


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