The movie critics don’t seem to think that highly of the new Karate Kid film, but I had a great time watching it with my 7-year-old son. It’s one of the few kid movies that I sat through without falling asleep in the middle, which unfortunately was the case with the fantastic Toy Story 3!
Here are my reasons for liking it:
Most importantly, I just loved the scenery shots. The kid practices his kicks at the Great Wall, visits the Forbidden City, and travels by train to Guilin to climb to the top of Wudang Mountain. All of these shots are simply beautiful!
Wudangshan is the Daoist Mountain where Mr. Han (the Kungfu Shifu) takes him to reach the sacred water source. The scenes of Daoists practicing meditation or Kungfu are Hollywood stage setups, but they are beautiful and at times, when traveling in China, you can find truly spiritual moments as such when visiting these sacred mountains.
One of my favorite Daoist Mountains to visit is called Weishan in Dali, Yunnan. It’s much smaller in scale, and is very little visited as Daoism isn’t gaining many followers these days. But, the Daoist temples scattered on the mountain offer a peaceful respite from the noise of Chinese towns. One of my favorite things to do is to hike to the highest temple and drink tea with the only resident Daoist, who grows all his own fresh produce at the temple. The tea costs RMB 1 (equivalent of 15 cents), and tastes pure and sweet after hiking there.
Now when it comes to logistics, however, I would never recommend anyone to travel from Beijing by train to Guilin to climb Wudang Mountain. So, please don’t follow Mr. Han on this route. Wudang Mountain is 800 miles south of Beijing, and Guilin (where the lovely Karst hills rise out of Li River) is another 800 miles further to the south. It would be a ridiculous detour – but it works in a movie.
So, walk in knowing it’s Hollywood, and enjoy the stunning scenery.
Another reason for liking it is the reality of China that’s portrayed in the film. Mei Ying (the Karate Kid’s love interest) and her family provide a small window into the life of an upper middle class family in China. Usually, it’s a small family of 3 people, mom, dad and the only child. The well-off Chinese families are buying up luxury cars like Audi or BMW, the successful mom and dad are very well dressed. The pressure on the only child is intense, with piano lessons and violin practice sessions everyday. The movie hasn’t quite shown the intense pressure for testing into colleges, but that would have distracted from the spotlight on the Karate Kid.
All in all, I find it entertaining, and absolutely worth watching for those considering visiting China. WildChina offers a classic family trip to China that incorporates Kungfu and some of the classic sites that viewers will find in the Karate Kid, like the Great Wall and Forbidden City.