Ever since the project was announced, movie fans have been clamoring for information about Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s remake of an Eighties classic. Now, we’ve seen the first trailer and only five months remain until release, but even the film’s new Mr. Miyagi isn’t quite sure what to call it.
“We just finished the movie, ‘Karate Kid,’” Jackie Chan told me Wednesday at the People’s Choice Awards. “Um, the ‘Kung Fu Kid.’”
Say what? Over the course of the film’s shooting, rumors had leaked that since the film is set in China, the title would reference Kung Fu (a Chinese discipline) instead of karate (a Japanese form of martial arts). But the recent first trailer for the movie ended with a title card that read “The Karate Kid.” Which seems odd, since technically Jaden Smith won’t be doing any karate in the movie.
“I don’t know [what it’s going to be called],” Chan admitted of the film, which is due to hit theaters in June. “Probably ‘Kung Fu Kid’ in China and ‘Karate Kid’ in America. Maybe a different title? I don’t know. But mostly we’ve called it ‘The Kung Fu Kid.’”
To some, the difference may seem minor. But to those who treat 1984’s “Karate Kid” as a classic –- including star Ralph Macchio himself -– a name like “Kung Fu Kid” might signal a welcomed desire by the film to stand on its own merits.
“It’s a totally different story; a totally different story,” Chan insisted, arguing that the movie is not a strict remake. “I was in China, Jaden [Smith] was all the way from America. [The family moves] to China, then they see me, then it’s [about] how I teach him martial arts.”
Of course, one of the many reasons why the movie is interesting is because it’s produced by Hollywood super-couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and it stars their 11-year-old son Jaden (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) in the Macchio role. But according to Chan, he felt no pressure stepping into the mentor role that earned late actor Pat Morita an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi.
“No [I felt no pressure], not at all,” Chan insisted. “Really, we put a tribute [to Pat Morita] in the movie; I just do whatever I can.”
As for the key hallmarks of the original movie, Chan revealed two to us. “It’s different. We do have ‘wax on/wax off,’ but in a funny way. We’re not teaching him these kind of things,” he insisted.
And, when we asked him about the presence of Macchio’s signature crane kick move, Chan said that whatever the movie is called, the final battle scene will not involve it. “No, we don’t have those [scenes]. We show you… I don’t want to give it away. See you in June!”
What do you think? Should the movie stay close to the “Karate Kid” hallmarks, or stay as far away as possible?