Most boys, if they’re lucky, might get a new bike or an Xbox when they turn 11. But if your parents are Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, you get a trip to China and your own movie franchise. It’s easy to understand why folks would be suspicious of Jaden Smith. Nepotism has that effect. After watching the star’s The Karate Kid (2 hrs., 20 mins., PG), though, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win over the haters with his cool cornrow charisma. He makes Ralph Macchio’s Daniel-san look squarer than a saltine. Speaking of which, if you haven’t watched the 1984 dojo ”classic” in a long time, don’t. While Macchio hasn’t aged a day in real life, the flick is proof that some memories should stay in the past. (And the less said about Hilary Swank’s 1994 crap-socky entry, The Next Karate Kid, the better.) Still, you have to admire Smith’s guts for tackling such a slab of nostalgia. Having Jackie Chan play the wise sensei to his bold grasshopper was smart — the two have cute chemistry as a pair of outcasts: Smith, the Detroit-born tween in Beijing, where his mom (Taraji P. Henson) has been transferred; Chan, the shy handyman nursing an old wound and teaching cryptic lessons about life, love, and sweeping the legs of bullies (who are harmless compared with Macchio’s SoCal Cobra Kai sadists). There’s nothing here you haven’t seen in the franchise’s four previous chapters. But if being formulaic were a crime, then half of Hollywood would be behind bars. EXTRAS include a decent making-of doc and Justin Bieber’s music video for his end-credits song ”Never Say Never.” The Blu-ray adds a silly alternate ending with Chan dishing out some martial-arts mayhem. 2010’s The Karate Kid: B
SPLITSVILLE Jaden Smith is seriously just showing off now in The Karate Kid (Jasin Boland)
Posted January 17 2015 — 2:22 PM EST
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