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n delhi India
Occident orient
Jun 25, 2010 08:48 PM 1703 Views
(Updated Jun 25, 2010 08:54 PM)





‘West is West and East is East and e’er shall the twain meet’

If you thought this remake of the 1984 underdog movie was all about Karate and about a kid, you would only be partially right.

Briefly, the plot is of an American family(single mom and 12 year old kid, Dre), who must move to China on a job transfer. The kid is disoriented and dejected on leaving his beloved country and home, and gets a culture shock in the new place. Things begin on an ominous note; among other events - a non working shower, and Dre playing afoul of the local bully, Cheng over his sweetheart, Mei . The boy then proceeds to acquire karate skills from a dubious and equally morose karate instructor, Jackie Chan, to exorcise his personal fears, as well as to vanquish the brawler. The story transcends a simple school kid’s struggle to rid himself of ragging tormentors, and puppy love- and becomes a tale of human endeavor surmounting all odds.

I watched the movie with my kids who thoroughly enjoyed it, and left me wondering how adults would find it. I hope at the end of this review you would find the answer.

There is an underlying theme of people trying to make the best out of whatever life has to offer them. The movie has unending optimism, and the situational adversity of its characters is essayed without any pity or melodrama.There is a single middle class mother bravely raising her child, and making the bold move of opting for a change in residence with the hope of a better life, after the death of her husband. She juggles between her career and motherhood, struggling to discipline her wayward child, firmly, yet empathizing with his pain at the move. The little boy is helpless at having to leave his home and friends, and being unable to control his life in an adult’s world, for adult considerations he can little appreciate. His dejection is further aggravated by getting brutally bashed up at every opportunity by Cheng, who is in love with Mei, the only shining light in the bleak life of Dre . Then there is the maintenance man, struggling with his personal tragedy, pining away for the loss of his loved ones. He must also reign in his excessive sorrow and start living his life again. There is little Mei, with her musical ambitions, who completes the fragile support system that surrounds the vulnerable Dre.

This movie is not set in the American milieu with American values, unlike the older prequels, but has American players in the oriental value system. The journey marks the remarkable transformation of a whining, cribbing, attitudinal lad into a responsible, respectful and poised young man. The karate thing is just a part of that journey. It also celebrates in a positive manner the triumph of human spirit over adverse circumstances, represented by the successful career move by the single mother, the rediscovery of life by a devastated father and husband who has lost his family, and the culmination of musical ambitions of a small girl, who at the bidding of her parents, does not think twice before forsaking her friendship with Dre; a typical oriental value system which the American boy can’t understand at first, but later grows into a clear appreciation of her choice. The movie clearly celebrates life, oriental value system, the joys of family, loyalty and friendship, and honor above all else. In the end poetic justice is delivered, by the victory of good over evil. The instructor rightly points out, Karate can be used to vanquish people, or preferably, to earn and retain peace, which is more important.

Therefore I think every parent must take their kids to this movie, for all the positive lessons that all of us; adults and kids alike can imbibe from this inspiring underdog story .

The kid, Dre has done a remarkable job, as the genes( he is Will Smith’s son) clearly show. Jackie Chan is happier in comic and action roles where he can be uninhibited. Here, as a restrained, sorrowful and middle aged plumber; when called upon to emote- finds it rather painful to bring on any expression on his inscrutable face, which creases into endless furrows, that could swing either way. The brooding villain, Cheng is wonderfully cast, and Mei is as pert and pretty as Chinese can be.

The best part of the movie is that it helps you to recover from last weekend’s hangover of ‘Raavan’!

A must watch movie.

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