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If you're going to re-do something, do it differently…

If you're going to re-do something, do it differently…

I’ve often thought that if you’re going to go to the bother of remaking a film or a song, you should at least do it a bit differently. Like the Pet Shop Boys doing Always On My Mind, or … the Pet Shop Boys doing Where The Streets Have No Name.

Anyway, we now have the new trailer for The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith.

The Karate Kid – re-done…

The Karate Kid – re-done…

So… they’re trampling over my childhood by re-making The Karate Kid. Only this time, Jackie Chan gets to mentor Will Smith’s son. Which instinctively seems a bit odd for no apparent reason.

Fortunately, Jeff Yang’s fascinating article on how martial arts was popularised in the US by black people seems to actually make sense. Although I’m not sure Jackie Chan will be anywhere near as charming as Pat Morita.

Still, maybe its’ reappearance will finally mean that when I start muttering “You, beginner luck!” under my breath, people might actually get the reference. Certainly, references to The Karate Kid were aplenty during my time in that ill-fated British-Chinese comedy sketch group

Wax on, wax off

Wax on, wax off

When I gingerly went to a start-up group of British Chinese comedians, I didn’t actually have many things in common with the urban actors/writers before me who’d spent their formative years going to their local Chinatown.

Fortunately, one thing we did all bond on was our common experience over The Karate Kid. Not so much in watching it, but in that our playground “peers” would constantly reference it or point to it in conversations/taunts with our younger selves. Even now, catchphrases from that 25-year-old film still loom large in my head. Left-a-circle, right-a-circle. Wax on, wax off. And of course, the semi-legendary crane kick.

Looking back on it, it’s actually a semi-charming if rather unoriginal film – and the less said of the sequels the better. A lot has to do, of course, with the original casting of Pat Morita, who actually somehow managed to give the cliched idea of an Eastern old wise man a soupcon of gravitas and background.

Fast-forward to today, and Empire Online and BBC News bring the news that Jackie Chan may be cast as the wise muse in a remake of the Karate Kid. Which strikes me as terrible news for the following reasons:

– Does the Karate Kid really need to be remade? It wasn’t that brilliant an idea to begin with, what’s a 21st Century spin going to give it?
– Jackie Chan. Many things he is, but a charming wise muse, he is not. There’s no actual acting ability or charisma behind Jackie Chan – and to be fair, most of the time there doesn’t have to be one. He just usually plays hapless if nimble foreigner. But a wise muse? You might as well cast the manic Jim Carrey as that.

The whole thing is a really terribly bad idea, and I for one hope it never happens. But then I bet I’ll spot it in the straight-to-DVD shelves 3 years from now.

Mr. Miyagi has died. :(

Mr. Miyagi has died. :(

The Karate Kid was the bane of my mid-80s childhood, and probably for most Chinese/Asian kids of my generation. When I was part of a British Chinese comedy sketch group, we all bonded over the childhood nightmares of hearing “left a-circle, right a-circle”, “wax on, wax off” etc. all the bloody time.

But even then, I was quite impressed that there was a Chinese-ish person acting in Hollywood, who was in the movies. (George Takei doesn’t count because he was only in the movies by dint of being in a 1960s sci-fi serial. Although he does have an amazing cultured-American accent).

So it comes to pass that Karate Kid actor Pat Morita has died. A nation isn’t quite in mourning – the obituary on BBC One tonight will be for an alcoholic ex-footballer – but it’s a shame to see someone who was briefly part of your TV-based childhood gone. I hope he had a good one. And it’s nice to know that he used his brief fame to good purpose by apparently and briefly owning a “Japanese-style restaurant called “Miyagi’s” on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood”. Apparently not.

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