All kung-fu and no karate in this fresh prince remake.
Image: Columbia Pictures
Jaden Smith, son of the infamous Fresh Prince, stars in this ‘80s remake of the same name; however, with the exception of the generic storyline, nothing in this revamp truly compares to the original – not even the matching title. Although, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Set in China, the plot sees 12-year-old Dre (Smith) relocate to Beijing with his mother (Henson), who has recently accepted a new job in the city. Being the new kid on the block, it’s not long before he’s set upon by a gang of local lads, who just so happen to be kung-fuin’ mad. Feeling defenceless, he seeks help from reclusive local caretaker Mr. Han (Chan), who, also, just so happens to know a bit of Kung-fu. What are the odds? Well, considering the film’s set in China, very high! With the help of the maintenance man, Dre must overcome his bullies, whilst trying to fit in to this new place called home.
Smith steps into his lead shoes with confidence. At times, however, it seems as though the mini-me is desperate to please not only his kung-fu master, and love interest, but audiences alike. Herein lies the main problem. In an attempt to prove he’s got the chops to be like his old man, audiences end up with ten extra side dishes when only a main meal of martial arts was ordered - N.B.: remember to ask for a doggy bag next time.
It’s evident within the first quarter of the film that Smith’s got charisma; and his natural ability confirms he has inherited some of Big Willie’s Style. But, your dad didn’t build his career in a day, Junior, so save something for later – and make no mistake folks, there will be a later, and an even later!
All in all, Smith gives a solid breakout performance. Henson, however, is redundant in her matriarchal role; choosing to portray the stereotypical black mother whilst also appearing, at times, to be his annoying sister. Chan, on the other hand, creates the balance that is needed, and is fitting as a burdened man trying to reconnect with the world around him.
With a duration just over the two hour mark, the film is far too long for you to sit comfortably in your chair throughout. But, in the end, it’s a surprisingly pleasant film. It’s not as cool as the original, but what do you expect from a movie aimed at 12-year-olds?
In spite of the film’s flaws, it’s a charming little picture that’s worth the trip to the cinema - if a couple of kids are hanging off your arm.