By Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian
Spoiler Alert + Any use of inappropriate cultural terms or conflation with the original movie is entirely intentional.
The Karate Kid (Jaden Smith) and his Mom (Taraji Henson) are leaving Detroit. Lest you think this is a single black mom/deadbeat dad scenario, we’re told upfront that the Karate Kid’s Dad is dead…period. Detroit is portrayed as a gray, dismal city full of shuttered storefronts. This is America in our continued state of joblessness, America in the 21st century, America on the decline. But China, where they’re headed for Mom’s work, is the land of opportunity, the land of now, the land on the up-and-up, or, as the Karate Kid’s Mom puts it, “a magical new land,” like unicorns live there or something.
The Karate Kid tries out his Mandarin on the Asian dude sitting across the aisle from him on the plane. “Dude, I’m from Detroit,” the Asian dude says. Light laughs from the audience, which is mostly made up of families with tween children and some creepy older loners who probably wanted to be Daniel-san back in the day. My Hardass Asian Mom (HAM) approves of this joke: “Not all Chinese or Asian looking guy speaks Chinese, this is true.”
Meanwhile: Where is my Bananarama remix???
When the Karate Kid and his Mom arrive at the airport, their lady driver is holding a sign for “Mrs. Packer.” Mom corrects the lady driver, telling her the name’s “Parker.” Ah, Engrish!
After settling into their new flat and discovering that they don’t have hot water, the Karate Kid goes looking for their super, who turns out to be Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan ignores the Kid and, instead, picks up a dead fly with his chopsticks, chucks it on the ground, and keeps eating his cup o’ noodles with the same chopsticks. (Which my HAM says would totally happen in China although she told me not to write about it, so, of course, I had to write about it.) The Karate Kid leaves to check out the local park, where we meet his love interest, Meiying. Meiying, aka Mini-Tamlyn Tomita, has the jankiest hybrid haircut–a bob with pigtails–which is sorta cute if you’re into mullets.
And what is Mini-Tamlyn doing in the park? Tuning her violin! And listening to Bach! NATURALLY.
AWKWARD MOMENT ALERT: Speaking of hair, Mini-Tamlyn asks to touch the Karate Kid’s cornrows. Eep.
That’s when the Chinese Billy Zabka comes over, all jealous, and tells Mini-Tamlyn that she should be…practicing the violin. OMG NERD!!! Then Chinese Billy Zabka beats the Kid’s ass, upping his badass quotient considerably. At which point, my HAM takes off her glasses and covers her eyes.
The next day, the Karate Kid covers up his bruises with his mom’s makeup. He looks like he knows what he’s doing. Something tells me his real-life mama Jada’s taught him a trick or two in this department and he may be a few years away from “guyliner,” which means he may be a few years away from being a total Hollywood douche-nozzle. But for now, as much as I hate to admit it, he’s kinda adorbs.