Australian Council on Children and the Media

Karate Kid (2010), The

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Not suitable under 8, not recommended 8-12, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Karate Kid (2010), The
  • a review of Karate Kid (2010), The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 July 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 8-12 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 12-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and themes

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Karate Kid (2010), The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Action violence, bullying violence and themes
Length 140 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Twelve year old Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) and his mother Sherry (Taraji P Henson) move from Detroit to Beijing. There they live in a new apartment building called 'Beverly Hills' and Dre attends the local school. While visiting a nearby park, Dre strikes up a friendship with Meiying (Han Wenwen), a young girl who plays the violin. However, Dre’s encounter with Meiying attracts the attention of the school head bully Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) and his gang who target Dre for attack.

It is soon apparent that Cheng is intent on doing serious injury to Dre, but Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), the maintenance man for Dre’s apartment building steps in. Mr. Han is a Kung Fu master and makes short work of the bullies.

Mr. Han then encourages Dre to go to the Kung Fu academy where Cheng is a student, in the hope that they can reason with Cheng through his instructor Master Li (Rongguang Yu). Unfortunately Master Li is just as big a bully as Cheng, and Mr. Han decides that the only way he can assist Dre is to enter him in a Kung Fu tournament where he will fight Cheng one to one.

From this point on the film focuses on Mr. Han teaching Dre Kung Fu and Dre’s blossoming relationship with Meiying, as the day for the Kung Fu tournament draws near.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying; martial arts, tweenage romance; grief and guilt over the death of family members

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The Karate Kid (2010) contains intense segments of graphic martial arts violence enacted by young boys against other boys, and also frequent bullying. Much of the violence shown could be imitated by children who might see Dre and other characters as role models. Other than some bruising, the film depicts no real life consequences that would result from injuries caused by the acts of violence; no blood or real injury are depicted. Examples of violence include:     

  • While in a park we see Cheng push and shove Dre, causing him to fall face first on the ground. In retaliation, Dre charges at Cheng and we see Cheng flipping Dre over his shoulders resulting in Dre lying upset on the ground. Dre gets up and punches Cheng in the face, knocking Cheng onto his back. Cheng retaliates by punching and kicking Dre hard in the chest knocking Dre off his feet. Cheng then punches Dre hard in the eye leaving Dre lying on the ground holding his eye in pain. Later we see Dre with a large ugly bruise covering much of one side of his face, applying makeup to hide the bruise from his mother.  
  • In an act of deliberate bullying, Cheng knocks a food tray out of Dre’s hands covering Dre in food. Later we see Cheng and his gang rip Dre’s school bag out of his hands and tip the contents over the floor
  • Mr. Han flicks a tooth paste top at Dre hitting him in the face.
  • During a training session Master Li tells his young students to show “no weakness, no pain and no mercy”.
  • In retaliation to being bullied by Cheng and his gang, Dre throws a bucket of filthy water over Cheng and his gang. Dre is eventually restrained by the bullies while Cheng powerfully punches Dre twice in the stomach. We see Dre lying on the ground in pain and very upset.
  • There is a stylised fight between Cheng’s gang and Mr. Han who manages to make the boys punch and kick each other rather than making contact with him By the end of the fight all the bullies are left lying injured on the ground. .
  • Cheng fighting another boy at Master Li’s Kung Fu academy, punching and kicking his opponent until his opponent is left lying on the ground. Master Li tells Cheng to finish off his opponent and Cheng powerfully punches his opponent in the head, knocking him unconscious. Master Li then slaps Cheng hard across the face, saying “No mercy in life - your enemy deserves pain”. 
  • During training, Mr. Han and Dre exchange numerous punches, blocks and kicks, none of which appeared to cause Dre harm. One of the training exercises involves Mr. Han punching Dre through a curtain with a boxing glove attached to a pole.
  • During the Kung Fu tournament we see stylised martial arts fighting between pre-teen boys involving punches and kicks to the head, face and body, some of which were powerful enough to knock the opponent out of the ring. At one point the referee has to restrain Cheng to stop him from beating his opponent senseless.
  • On Master Li’s instruction a boy repeatedly punches Dre in the knee joint in a deliberate attempt to cripple him. When we next see Dre he is lying on a bed with a badly bruised leg wrapped in ice, and we hear a doctor telling Dre that his injury is too severe for him to continue in the tournament.
  • During the final fight, Dre punches Cheng in the face, wraps his legs around Cheng’s neck in a scissor hold, and flips Cheng over his shoulders. Master Li tells Cheng to break Dre’s leg and Cheng punches Dre in his injured leg.  Dre lies on the ground in severe pain with tears in his eyes. Dre, standing on his one good leg performs a back flip and kicks Cheng in the face, knocking Cheng to the ground.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In an attempt to heal injuries to Dre’s chest, Mr. Han places heated glass cups on Dre’s chest, set some liquid on fire and rub the fire over Dre’s chest. The flames do not burn Dre, but appear to relieve his pain.
  • A woman practising Kung Fu stands on a stone wall facing a very large cobra which imitates her movements.
  • Mr. Han, in an intoxicated state, smashes a car with a sledge hammer. Mr. Han tells Dre that he was responsible for the death of his wife and ten-year-old son in a car accident; Mr. Han was driving the car. He breaks down crying and we hear that each year he fixes the car and then smashes it on the anniversary of the death of his wife and son.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the violent and disturbing scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the violent and disturbing scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • The cartoon Sponge Bob Square Pants (in Chinese) is depicted a couple of times 

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Dre and Meiying go on a date to a Chinese festival that celebrates love. They watch a shadow puppet play and lean in and kiss each other on the lips
  • Dre’s mother wears a dress that reveals cleavage
  • In one scene twelve year old Meiying is seen wearing a short dress that exposes her thighs. She dances in a sensual manner complete with hip movements and seductive facial expressions. The music accompanying Meiying’s dance contains sexual lyrics relating to pole dancing, and gambling metaphors with sexual innuendo. When Meiying finishes her dance we hear Dre tell her “You’re hot.”

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In one scene we see Mr. Han acting in an intoxicated manner an see a half empty bottle of alcohol sitting on a table.

Coarse language

The Karate Kid contains a couple of low-level swear words and mild put-downs. Examples include:

  • Mr. Li refers to Dre as “The little thing.”
  • Kick their arse, damn it, stupid.

In a nutshell

The Karate Kid (2010) is a martial arts action drama that is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name. It targets a preteen/early teen male audience, but the film’s level of violence, which is far more intense than that in the original film, makes it more suited to an older audience.

The film includes several overt positive messages. However, at times the positive messages conflict with what the film actually portrays. 

  • The best fights you have are the ones you avoid.
  • There are no bad students just bad teachers.
  • Kung Fu is not about fighting, it is about making peace with your enemy.
  • The only person you need to control is yourself.
  • Life will knock us down, but we can choose to get back up.
  • A true friend is one who makes our life better.
  • Confronting bullies will allow you to loose your fear of them.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Confronting fears: Dre lives in fear of bullies but, by confronting those bullies in a Kung Fu tournament, he both loses his fear of them and gains their respect.
  • Keeping promises: Dre and Meiying make a promise to each other which they go to some length to keep.
  • Empathy: Dre displays high levels of empathy to both Meiying and Mr. Han

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the real life consequences of engaging in violent acts such as those depicted in this film. In the film we see children/pre-teens severely beating each other to the point of unconsciousness, but other than some very occasional bruising the film does not depict any blood or realistic injury. Adults may wish to discuss how in real life violence such as that depicted in the film would result in severe injury, if not death.
  • the harmful effects of bullying, non-violent methods of dealing bullies and how children can access support to assist with bullying.

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