The box office kung-fu of “The Karate Kid” proves strong; “The A-Team” does B-grade business

It’s probably not a completely original thought of mine and it’s obviously a vast oversimplification, but it’s always seemed to me that what audiences really seem to want is more of the same, but different. If something is too unfamiliar, only a limited portion of viewers will be adventurous enough to try out a brand new movie flavor. If it’s too familiar, on the other hand, it’s kind of a bore, at best.

That formula has apparently been in full effect this weekend as a film which put a few gentle twists on a very familiar property prospered at the box office. A second movie — in terms of marketing, at any rate — was an apparent carbon copy of its source material, notwithstanding a new cast, more violence, and a bigger budget (too much bigger, probably). That film will prove vastly less profitable, at best.

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in

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Eighties redos to battle at the box office

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I’m severely limited for time — and more than a bit tired after a busy and reasonably productive day — so this may be one of my shortest box office preview posts.

This week’s two major new releases are reboots of properties remembered fondly by many children of the 1980s, “The A-Team” and “The Karate Kid.” Both movies have been supplied with some well known names, Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan for the former and Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and Jessica Biel for the latter.

Jolly Carl DiOrio doesn’t go so far as to predict which film will emerge on top, with both having some fairly obvious broad appeal. I’ll say that my personal hunch is that Sony’s “Kid” will take the lead because, with a PG rating, it’s definitely more of a family film than the more violent and adult-oriented PG-13 “A-Team” from Fox. The martial arts flick also would seem to have more appeal for female audience members for similar reasons. It certainly seems extremely likely, in any case, that “Kid” will be the more profitable film by far, as we’re led to believe it cost $40 million, while the Joe Carnahan directed “Team” cost something more like $95 million. Both movies got mixed-to-meh reviews at “Rotten Tomatoes.”

Will these action flicks rescue Hollywood from the box office blahs? All I know is that I have no strong desire to see either of them and I’m not sure Hollywood deserves any better than its getting. In fact, without having seen these new movies, I feel safe in assuring anyone reading this that, if you’re at all open to them, you’ll be vastly more entertained by renting almost any of Jackie Chan’s amazing eighties and nineties Hong Kong films. I know I’d really like to see “Project A, Part II” — an ingenious slapstick comedy adventure — or any of the “Supercop” movies again soon. Like, right now.

  

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Of course, it’s really “The Kung Fu Kid”

But I still like this second trailer for the China-set remake/update of 1984’s “The Karate Kid,” featuring tiny-but-tough 12 year-old Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, that’s making the rounds today at places like Screencrave and Cinemablend. Aside from a gruffer Chan, director Harald Zwart shows some visual chops I wouldn’t necessarily expect from a guy with his resume.

Though I loved Pat Morita, I never got around to seeing the original film. I make no promises on this one, but it’s got my attention.

Fun fact: Jaden Smith is eleven years younger than Ralph Macchio was in 1984. This “kid” is actually a kid.

You can see the earlier trailer (and some rather similar comments, I must admit) here.

  

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Shouldn’t it be “The Kung Fu Kid”?

She doesn’t put it quite that way, but so wonders Devindra Hardawar for /Film, where I snagged this trailer for the new remake/reboot/re-something of “The Karate Kid” with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. I have to say, I agree with her that, the whole Japanese/Chinese martial arts issue aside, this looks like it might be a nice little movie. Or, maybe, it’s just a nice little trailer. See for yourself.

Confession time: I’ve never seen the original film, I never really had an interest. I’ve always liked Pat Morita, but movies about martial arts where no one is likely to get killed…I dunno. Sort of feels like low stakes. I might make an exception for Mr. Chan, however. The action looks convincing and Jaden Smith seems a lot funnier than Ralph Macchio.
  

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