The Karate Kid (1984)
Director: John G. Avildsen
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Pat Mortia, Elisabeth Shue
Released: June 22, 1984
Best Supporting Actor - Pat Mortia (lost to Haing S. Ngor for The Killing Fields)
The Karate Kid (2010)
Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Released: June 11, 2010
I watched both of these films recently and thought I would do a double review since they're the same movie and all. I actually watched the remake before the original (even though I'd seen the original many, many years ago). Both movies are obviously similar, but there are a few differences.
Both films start out with the main character moving far from their home with their mother. In the '84 version, Ralph Maccio plays Danny, a high schooler who moves from New Jersey to California. In the '10 version, Jaden Smith (aka Will Smith's mini-me) plays a 12 year old named Dre who moves from the U.S. all the way to China. Both of them experience culture shock, but Dre more so!
Both of them have a hard time fitting in and want to go back home. They both encounter bullies who make their lives difficult. In the original, the bully doesn't like him because Danny begins dating his ex-girlfriend (Elisabeth Shue). In the remake, I'm not really sure why the little Chinese kid starts picking on him. It's like he sees this American kid and decides to start harassing him. Or perhaps he's jealous that Dre becomes friends with the cute little Chinese girl at their school.
Both boys get really frustrated until what they're doing is teaching them karate/kung fu in its own weird way and soon they're being taught real karate/kung fu. They both enter a karate/kung fu contest (and of course the bullies are already enrolled in karate/kung fu) and I'm probably not spoiling anything by saying that they overcome their bullies and earn their respect.
The only female characters in the film are the mother and the girlfriend. The mother is more prevalent in the remake while the girlfriend is more so in the original. (Although Danny's mother had to drive them on their dates because Danny didn't own a car. Ouch, kid, ouch.)
Also, I was really young when the original was released, so when I first saw it, it was probably on video and it doesn't really hold any nostalgic value for me while I'm sure it does for people who were old enough to see it in the theater when it was released. Also, the remake has amazing cinematography, being filmed in China and all. But you have to give the original credit, because there were some scenes in the remake that are literally framed shot by shot as the original.