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Jackie Chan Mentors Jaden Smith in THE KARATE KID

 

Asian superstar and global legend Jackie Chan stars as Mr. Han, a Beijing maintenance man who is secretly a master of kung fu, in Columbia Pictures’ new action adventure “The Karate Kid.” As Han teaches transplanted American kid Dre (Jaden Smith) that kung fu is not about punches and parries — but maturity and calm — Dre learns that facing down the bullies in his school will be the fight of his life.

Perhaps the film’s biggest challenge was casting the role of the kung fun mentor. The filmmakers would need an icon—and they found one, in Jackie Chan. “Really, who else could do it?” says producer Ken Stovitz. “Jackie is the only man who fits the bill. When I would say to myself, ‘We’re making `Karate Kid’ with Jackie Chan in the Mr. Miyagi role,’ well, frankly, that was a movie I wanted to see.”

Chan felt a particular affinity for the story, as he admits he can actually relate to the young American character. “I understand the fish out of water story,” he says. “About 30 years ago, I went to America for the first time by myself. When you’re in a completely different culture, it’s very frightening.”

The story tells the tale not only of a master and student but of the bond that’s formed between a lonely, childless man and a fatherless boy. Says Chan: “At first Mr. Han thinks he is only helping this bullied boy, but in the end, his life is also transformed.”

“Dre is like boys everywhere – they want to kick something, a way to get revenge,” says Chan. “But kung fu is not about hurting people. It’s about helping people.”

Chan observes of his young co-star: “I’ve never seen a child that’s as clever as Jaden is. He learns whatever I teach him. I mean, I’d show him something and, boom, he got it right away. He’s amazing!”

Director Harald Zwart recalls one poignant moment from the shoot: “I saw Jackie and Jaden relaxing between set-ups sitting on a little beach, you know, skipping stones in the water, and I was thinking if I was 11 years old and just hanging out with Jackie Chan, that would be a dream come true.”

Of course, in addition to the invaluable training he already got, Smith had another way of learning kung fu. “I watched a lot of Jackie’s movies and even copied some of his moves,” laughs Smith. In fact, an entire sequence – in which Mr. Han and Dre train and spar with sticks – is a reference of sorts to one of Chan’s earliest and most famous fights.

Smith’s relationship with Chan really did mirror their characters’ in the film. “He is amazing. He was always teaching me things,” says Smith. “How to stretch correctly, how to be in a scene, how to focus. He was right there with me the whole time.”

For Chan, “The Karate Kid” was both a homecoming and a dream-come-true. “I am so thankful to the production company for filming in China . We may have a five thousand year old history but our government is only sixty years young, a new government. This movie will give audiences a chance to learn about Chinese culture as well as Chinese martial arts. Such a wonderful promotion,” he exclaims.

Opening across the Philippines on Friday, June 11, “The Karate Kid” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit www.sonypictures.com.ph to see the latest trailers, get free downloads and play free movie games.

 

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