Catch da Flava - Karate Kid

For our May 3rd edition of Health Talks Youth Radio, host Travis introduced our show by discussing the movie we would explore, which is the new 2010 Karate Kid starring Jayden Smith, son of the famous Will Smith, and the famous martial artist Jacky Chan. Set in China, the movie explores how a young boy who recently lost his father travels with his mother to China after the economic downturn in Detroit makes it too difficult to live in their homeland. Upon arriving to China, young Dre (played by Jayden Smith) finds himself a target of a group of young bullies, facing racism and discrimination. Discovering a love of martial arts, he finds that his bullies practice is and soon employs the assistance of the maintenance worker in his building who has hidden talents in martial arts (played by Jackie Chan). In discovering his inner strength, Dre overcomes his inner demons and outer demons and wins the respect and regard of his adversaries and finds a new home in China. Discussing this interesting topic, Travis hosted a panel of girls and asked them what it would have been like if The Karate Kid was a girl. The panelists agreed that it would’ve changed the tone and effect of the storyline. For one, the impetus for adversity from this movie was because of the bully’s sense of jealousy toward Dre because he was receiving attention from a female classmate. As a female karate kid, the tension would have to stem from something beyond competitive romantic interest and so would alter the root of conflict in the storyline. The panel agreed that it would be quite powerful to have a female karate kid because she would likely be very much like a Mulan-type character, eliminating the barriers between gender in a similar way that Dre was able to eliminate racial barriers.

Another interesting topic to discuss was acknowledging that this version of The Karate Kid is actually a remake of the original, which was set entirely in America. In this new version, it is set in China and shows a different landscape and culture to the predominantly North American audience. It shows the impressive mastering of martial arts in the country as it showed a scene of a huge field full of young children standing to practice martial arts like an army, exhibiting the high level of seriousness and discipline this culture holds toward martial arts, whose origins are in China. In another scene, Dre and his mentor visits The Great Wall of China and some impressive sanctuaries for high masters of martial arts. One scene shows a woman standing precariously on a thin stoop that overlooks the greenery and lush forest area, where if she were to lose her focus she would surely fall to her demise. While perched on one foot on this thin stoop, she manages the movement of a cobra snake that mimics her actions. The different landscape is so impressive, it makes it quite humbling to see the impressively of other countries.

Overall, the panel believes the movie was quite impressive. Despite how young the kids were and how it seems inappropriate for them to have crushes on each other, the panel believes though Jayden Smith likely achieved his role for being the son of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he really does live up to his father’s impressive reputation as he shows a great deal of skill, strength, and discipline in his fight scene. He is taught to repeatedly drop his jacket on the floor, put it on, take it off, and swing it back on the coat rack. After some frustration, Dre realizes that the movements utilized to do this are similar to pivotal moves in martial arts, and realizes that everything incorporates martial arts, and that it is essentially a way of life. It really exhibits a fantastic way of showing the way martial arts is not used as a weapon, but used as a way to live and uphold one’s highest moral standards. Dre learns to master himself and to fight in a manner that doesn’t destroy his opponents, but wins him the favour of others. In the end, his biggest bully and rival is defeated and insists on giving the trophy from the martial arts tournament that Dre wins to him directly. The direct show of respect exhibits that it is a strict practice of discipline and respect for others fundamentally, even if some martial arts teachers teach students to cause harm to opponents.

We’d like to thank our panelists Beverly, Gisela, and Judy for being on air to discuss The Karate Kid.

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