Principal photography took place in Beijing, China, and filming began in July 2009 and ended on October 16, 2009. The Karate Kid was released theatrically worldwide on June 11, 2010 by Sony Pictures. The Karate Kid received mixed reviews and it earned $359.1 million on a $40 million budget. The plot concerns 12-year-old Dre (Smith) from Detroit, Michigan who moves to Beijing, China with his mother (Taraji P. Henson) and runs afoul of the neighborhood bully (Zhenwei Wang). He makes an unlikely ally in the form of an aging maintenance man, Mr. Han (Chan), a kung fu master who teaches him the secrets of self-defense.
Dre Parker and his mother Sherry Parker move from Detroit to Beijing after Sherry gets a job transfer at her car factory. After a day in a park, Dre develops a crush on a young violinist, Meiying, who reciprocates his attention, but another boy Cheng, a rebellious kung fu prodigy whose family is close to Meiying's, attempts to keep them apart by violently attacking Dre, and later bullies him at school. During an attack, the maintenance man, Mr. Han comes to Dre's aid, and when Cheng and his friends try to interfere, Han defeats each of them in close combat, revealing himself as a kung fu master.
After Han mends Dre's injuries using fire cupping, Dre asks if Mr. Han could teach him kung fu . Han refuses, but meets Cheng's teacher, Master Li, to make peace. Li, who teaches his students to show no mercy to their enemies, challenges Dre to a fight with Cheng. Han instead proposes that Dre compete against Li's students at an open martial arts tournament, and also requests the students leave Dre alone to train in time for the tournament. Li accepts the offer, but tells Han that if Dre does not show up during the tournament, he will personally bring pain to Han and Dre.
Han promises to teach Dre kung fu and begins to train Dre by emphasizing movements that apply to life in general, and that serenity and maturity, not punches and power, are the true keys to mastering the martial art. He teaches this by having Dre go through various actions with his jacket, which teaches Dre muscle memory moves. Han then takes Dre to a temple in the Wudang Mountains where he trained with his father, and Dre witnesses a woman making a cobra reflect her movements and drinks the water from an ancient Chinese well.
As Dre's friendship with Meiying continues, Dre persuades Meiying to cut school for a day of fun, but when she is nearly late for her violin audition which was brought forward a day without their knowledge, her parents deem him a bad influence and forbid her from spending more time with him.
During the course of their training, Han gives Dre a day off. Dre goes to Han that night and finds Han, apparently drunk, smashing a car he was working on. Han tells Dre that he crashed the same car years ago, and that his wife and ten-year-old son were with him and died in the car crash. Han fixes the car every year but smashes it to remind himself of what happened, which makes Dre work much harder in his training in order to help Han forget about the incident. Han assists Dre in writing a note of apology to Meiying's father in Chinese; he accepts and promises that Meiying will attend the tournament to support Dre.
At the tournament, the under-confident Dre is slow to achieve parity with his opponents, but soon begins beating them and advances to the semifinals, as does Cheng, who violently finishes off his opponents. Dre comes up against Liang, one of Li's more sympathetic students, who (under Li's goading) severely hurts Dre's leg and Liang is disqualified as a result, while Dre is taken to the infirmary.
Despite Han's insistence that he has earned respect for his performance, Dre convinces Han to mend his leg by using fire cupping in order to continue. Dre returns to the arena, facing Cheng in the final. Dre delivers impressive blows, but Li orders Liang to break Dre's leg. Cheng, horrified at the order, but obeys under Li's intimidation. As the match continues, Cheng seizes Dre's leg and delivers a vicious blow, doing further damage. Dre struggles to get up, and attempts the reflection technique to manipulate Cheng into changing his attack stance. Cheng begins reflecting Dre's movements and it goads him into charging Dre, but Dre flips and catches Cheng with a kick to his head, winning the tournament along with the respect of Cheng and his classmates. Cheng, instead of the presenter, awards Dre the trophy, and the Fighting Dragon students bow to Mr. Han in respect.
Li attempts to strike Cheng out of anger for Cheng's failure in the ring, but Han appears and prevents Li from doing so, resulting in a vicious battle with Li. While Li momentarily bests Han, Han pins Li down with a leg to head lock, and angrily reminds him his own rule; no mercy. Before Han attacks his nemesis, Dre appears, and discourages Han from his intentions, the Fighting Dragons students bow to Mr. Han, and the two leave. As a defeated and humiliated Li rises, as she and Meiying leave, Sherry stops to turn around briefly and punches Li in the jaw, presumably from finding out that he instructed his students to attack her son.Jaden Smith as Dre Parker (德瑞∙帕克 Déruì Pàkè)
A young boy from Detroit, Michigan who is bullied by another student, and learns to stand up to him in a kung-fu tournament.
Jackie Chan as Mr. Han (S: 韩先生, T: 韓先生, P: Hán-xiānsheng)
The maintenance man who teaches Dre kung-fu.
Taraji P. Henson as Sherry Parker (雪莉∙帕克 Xuělì Pàkè)
Dre's mother, who is very protective of him.
Wenwen Han (韩雯雯) as Meiying (美莹 Měiyíng)
Dre's crush who quickly befriends him, and eventually becomes his girlfriend.
Zhenwei Wang as Cheng (陆伟程 Lù Wěichéng)
The primary antagonist and student of Master Li.
Yu Rongguang as Master Li (李师傅 Lǐ-shīfu)
A kung-fu teacher who instructs his students to be merciless towards their enemies.
Luke Carberry as Harry (哈里 Hālǐ)
A boy who also befriends Dre.
Shijia Lü (吕世佳) as Liang (梁子浩 Liáng Zǐhào)
A classmate of Cheng's who is instructed by Master Li to cripple Dre during the tournament.
Ji Wang (王 姬) as Mrs. Po (博太太 Bó-tàitai)
The principal of Dre's new school.
Zhensu Wu (武振素) as Meiying's father
Zhiheng Wang (王志恒) as Meiying's mother
Yi Zhao (赵 毅) as Zhuang (秦壮壮 Qín Zhuàngzhuàng)
Cameron Hillman as Mark (马克)
Ghye Samuel Brown as Oz (奥兹)
Bo Zhang (张 博) as Song (宋)
On November 10, 2008, Variety reported that work on a Karate Kid remake had begun. Variety stated that the new film, to be produced by Will Smith, "has been refashioned as a star vehicle for Jaden Smith" and that it would "borrow elements from the original plot, wherein a bullied youth learns to stand up for himself with the help of an eccentric mentor." On June 22, 2009, Jackie Chan told a Los Angeles Chinatown concert crowd that he was leaving for Beijing to film the remake as Jaden Smith's teacher.
Despite maintaining the original title, the 2010 remake does not feature karate, which is from Okinawa, but focuses on the main character learning kung fu in China. Chan told interviewers that film cast members generally referred to the film as The Kung Fu Kid, and he believed the film would only be called The Karate Kid in America, and The Kung Fu Kid in China. This theory held true in the People's Republic of China, where the film is titled The Kung Fu Dream (Chinese: 功夫梦), and in Japan and South Korea, where the film is titled Best Kid (Japanese: ベスト・キッド; Korean: 베스트 키드) after the local title of the 1984 film in both countries.
Sony had considered changing title of the film, but Jerry Weintraub, one of the producers, rejected the idea. Weintraub was also the producer of the original Karate Kid.
The Chinese government granted the filmmakers access to the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, and the Wudang Mountains. On some occasions, the filmmakers had to negotiate with residents who were not accustomed to filming activity.
Icelandic composer Atli Örvarsson was originally hired to score the film, but he was replaced by American composer James Horner. The Karate Kid marked Horner's return to scoring after his work on the 2009 film Avatar. The score was released on June 15, 2010.
The official theme song to the film is "Never Say Never", a song written by Adam Messinger, Justin Bieber, Travis Garland, Omarr Rambert, and others, and produced by The Messengers (Adam Messinger and Nasri Atweh). It is performed by Bieber and Jaden Smith. The music video was released on May 31, 2010.
The film started with "Do You Remember" by Jay Sean. "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor was used in the trailer to promote the movie. Parts of the song, "Back in Black" by AC/DC and "Higher Ground" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, were also used in the movie. The song "Hip Song" by Rain is used for promotion in the Asian countries and it appeared in the trailer. The music video was released on May 22, 2010. "Bang Bang" by K'naan featuring Adam Levine and "Say" by John Mayer are also featured in the movie. It also features Lady Gaga's "Poker Face", Flo Rida's "Low" and Gorillaz' "Dirty Harry" (being performed in Chinese). An abbreviated form of Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne No. 20 is featured, arranged for strings, in Meiying's violin audition scene, along with Sergei Rachmaninoff's piano transcription of "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov.
The film premiered May 26 in Chicago, with appearances by Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, and a brief surprise appearance from Will Smith.
The United Kingdom premiere was held July 15. It was attended by Chan and Smith, as well as producers Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
In the Mainland China version of the film, scenes of bullying were shortened by the censors, and a kissing scene is removed. John Horn said that the editing ultimately resulted in "two slightly different movies".
The Karate Kid was released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 5, 2010 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and it was released on Mastered in 4K Blu-ray on May 14, 2013.
The Karate Kid received mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 66% based on 203 reviews, and the average rating is 6.2/10. The site's consensus reads: "It may not be as powerful as the 1984 edition, but the 2010 Karate Kid delivers a surprisingly satisfying update on the original." Metacritic, another review aggregator, rated the film 61/100 based on 37 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Ann Hornaday described Jaden Smith as a revelation, and that he "proves that he's no mere beneficiary of dynastic largesse. Somber, self-contained and somehow believable as a kid for whom things don't come easily, he never conveys the sense that he's desperate to be liked. 'The Karate Kid' winds up being so likable itself." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it a positive review, rating the film three and a half out of four stars, and calling it "a lovely and well-made film that stands on its own feet". Claudia Puig of USA Today and Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly each rated the film a 'B', stating "the chemistry between Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan grounds the movie, imbuing it with sincerity and poignance" and that the film is "fun and believable".
Simon Abrams of Slant Magazine gave the film one and a half stars and noted "The characters just aren't old enough to be convincing in their hormone-driven need to prove themselves" and "This age gap is also a huge problem when it comes to the range that these kids bring to the project" and noted the portrayal of the child antagonist Cheng includes an "overblown and overused grimace, which looks like it might have originally belonged to Dolph Lundgren, looks especially silly on a kid that hasn't learned how to shave yet." Finally, Abrams noted "What's most upsetting is Dre's budding romance with Meiying. These kids have yet to hit puberty and already they're swooning for each other."
The film was released on June 11, 2010 by Columbia Pictures to 3,663 theaters across the United States. The Karate Kid topped the box office on its opening day, grossing $18.8 million, and in its opening weekend, grossing $56 million in North America, beating The A-Team, which grossed an estimated $9.6 million on the same opening day, and $26 million in its opening weekend. It closed on September 18, 2010, after 101 days of release, grossing $176.7 million in the US and Canada along with an additional $182 million overseas for a worldwide total of $358 million, on a moderate budget of $40 million.
People's Choice Awards 2011Favorite Family Movie (Nominated)
Favorite On-Screen Team – Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan (Nominated)
Favorite Action Star – Jackie Chan (Won)
2011 Kids' Choice AwardsFavorite Movie (Won)
Favorite Buttkicker (Jackie Chan) (Won)
Favorite Movie Actor (Jaden Smith) (Nominated)
2011 MTV Video Music Aid JapanBest Song from a Movie ("Never Say Never" by Justin Bieber featuring Jaden Smith) (Nominated)
2011 MTV Movie AwardsBiggest Badass Star (Jaden Smith) (Nominated)
32nd Young Artist AwardsBest Leading Young Actor in a Feature Film (Jaden Smith) (Won)
2010 Teen Choice AwardsChoice Summer: Movie (Nominated)
It was announced in June 2010 that Sony's Columbia Pictures would be developing a sequel with Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, and Taraji P. Henson reprising their roles as Dre, Mr. Han, and Dre's mother, Sherry, respectively.
It was announced in April 2014, that Breck Eisner will direct the sequel as director with Chan and Smith confirmed to return.
On June 25, 2014, Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer were named as the writers to pen the film's script.