Jaden Smith is the new karate kid, although really as he found himself under the tutelage of Jackie Chan it could be argued that he is in fact The Kung Fu Kid. He plays Dre Parker, a young kid that is bullied by a local gang until Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) steps in to help.
Jaden Smith was born in 1998 and is just 12 years old. However, as the son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith he certainly has the genetics for acting and success.
“He’s an amazing boy” – Jackie Chan.
Jackie Chan said how impressed he was with Jaden Smith on the final Friday Night With Jonathan Ross show. Jaden was sent off for 12 weeks of training and at first Jackie Chan was not that hopeful of him, thinking that as the young son of rich and wealthy Hollywood celebs he would be lazy and not train hard. However, Jackie was very pleasantly surprised.
3 Months Kung-fu Training
Jackie Chan sent his fight coordinator, Master Wu to train Jaden for 3 months before shooting started. When Jackie enquired about how Jaden had progressed he was told that he was “very very good”.
For this Jaden had to be very flexible to perform high kicks and acrobatic jumps with ease. One comment is that Jaden Smith’s Karate Kid is much more realistic that the one played by Ralph Macchio back in 1984.
Jackie said of Jaden;
“Jaden had a lot of respect for me as his teacher, even off the set. He is professional as many adult actors who have been in the business for years. He took the training very seriously. I was very impressed with him.”
Will Smith mentioned that since Jaden had made the film he had become a more responsible kid. For example, he now tidies up after himself whereas before he would leave everything to his parents to do. Proof that martial arts training is still a great way to improve fitness as well as self discipline.
Does The Karate Kid Show Real Kung-fu?
One question many people ask is, does the new Karate Kid movie show real kung-fu, or is it just another cinema-graphic portrayal of kung-fu?
There is obviously a lot of artistic licence in the Karate Kid, but saying that the training methods and techniques shown are more inline with real kung-fu than is found in some older films. There are certainly many references and suggestions of older cinema in the film, from both Jackie Chan films and Bruce Lee films.
The large scale open class rooms are reminiscent of scenes from Enter the Dragon and the hard and repetitive training is similar, although not done with the same comic effect, as scenes from early Jackie Chan movies such as The Drunken Master and Snake in Eagles Shadow.
We asked a teacher of traditional Chinese Martial Arts what his opinion of the film was;
“I think that the new Karate Kid film portrays kung-fu in a very positive way. It highlights the peaceful nature of the art as well as showing how it is an effective fighting system. It basically tells the story of how hard work and dedication to your training can make you a good student and a better person. This is the fundamental idea of what kung-fu is about – kung-fu is not just about fighting well, it is about living well” Sifu Tony Willis, Southern Mantis Kung-fu instructor at 5 Elements Martial Arts.