Friday, October 31, 2014

"But first you accomplish paint fence."

Watched 1984’s “The Karate Kid” with my children last weekend.  They were hesitant because they’ve seen the remake and didn’t think it was very good.  I haven’t seen it but they so didn’t like it that I doubt we’ll be able to do another comparison like “Red Dawn.”

TKK aged well.  The styles are out, naturally, and the fit and finish of the film is rough in a couple of places but if we are honest, they were rough in 1984 too.  The biggest thing for me was how young Ralph Macchio was.

I haven’t seen the movie in a very long time.  He was always older than I was.  They all were.  This time around they were kids.  And as an adult, I understand a bit more about what was going on.  Like why mom moved to California, why Ali’s acceptance of the poor kid from Reseda was so unlikely, and just how funny the dialogue actually was – sure, I caught a few of the jokes, but it is really clever.

The family conversation focused on pacing.  #3 complained that we were a half an hour into the movie and nothing had happened yet.  My daughter was incredulous.  “What are you talking about?  He’s moved across the country, gotten beat up by a gang, found a girlfriend, and we just saw the old guy kick butt.”  #3 said, “O.K., but he hasn’t done any training yet or anything.”

That’s a great point.  I don’t think you could sell the TKK script today because it takes so long to get to the meat of the plot.  There’s this idea that you have to rush into the action because the modern audience is savvier.  Forget the insult for a minute and focus on the result of that belief.  A remake that has lots of fighting you don’t care about.  If Daniel got beat up once, what are the stakes?  Why does he have to fight?  If we don’t meat Ali’s parents and her friends, why do we care that she dates Daniel?”  There’s no pay off.  And then what about Mr. Miyagi?  He is destiny and patience and wisdom rolled into one – if you rush him, you lose him.

And that would be a tradgedy.  All weekend I heard Mr. Miyagi quoted and my daughter is still chuckling about the scene in the boat when he falls off the seat laughing because Daniel fell into the pond.

My boys wanted to know if it was really possible to catch a fly with chopsticks.  I told them it was.  So is writing a movie that speaks to your children the same way it spoke to you.

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