At my particular screening, the audience was thoroughly engaged and rooting for its hero every step of the way (case in point: one lady sitting nearby injected a regular "Go get ‘em" during every fight scene). And that universal appeal, not to mention memorable acting turns from the leads, makes The Karate Kid one of the brighter highlights in a dull, sequel-heavy summer.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None.

  • Language/Profanity:  God's name is improperly referenced a couple of times. There's also one instance of "dam---" and a couple of uses of "as-." Mr. Hans encourages Dre not to use that latter, but Dre slips up once more.

  • Sex/Nudity:  For a movie geared at families, using Flo Rida's "Low" is an odd choice of soundtrack considering the song includes references to strippers sliding down the pole. Then later on when Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" is playing, Meiying's dancing is a little too suggestive considering she's so young.

  • Violence:  There's quite a bit of fighting throughout (not a huge surprise considering it's The Karate Kid) that involves punching and kicking. Several of the matches in the kung fu championship are particularly brutal. While en route to the final match with his arch nemesis Cheng, Dre gets beaten up pretty badly. At one point, Cheng is encouraged to break Dre's leg with no mercy.

  • Spirituality:  Unlike the original where there were passing references to Buddha, spirituality plays a more central role in Dre's kung fu training in Karate Kid. Mr. Han teaches that in order to be successful, you have to tap into the concept of "chi," which he says is the "essence of life" and eternal energy." Fleshing that out, he says that "chi" moves inside our bodies and gives us power from within—like the Force from Star Wars. To connect more fully with those energies, Dre is encouraged to "empty his mind."
     

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.