In the most bizarre news I’ve heard in a while, Netflix has released a trailer for Neo Yokio, a cartoon created by Vampire Weekend’s lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig and starring Jaden Smith.
When I first heard that this film was being made, I literally asked ‘Why?’ to the universe. Yet another unnecessary remake of a classic! Then it was revealed that Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) had been cast and suddenly the film had some potential to not be completely horrible.
The best decision made by the writer as well as the producers (Will and Jada Smith) was to set the story in China. This allowed us to look at the story in a different context; one where young boys can beat you up in ways that you didn’t think was possible to recover from.
Also, changing the main character to a black tweenager was another good move. It just did enough to make the storyline feel fresh and new to those who were fans of the original and also made it relatable to the new audience they have tried to attract.
The story follows 12 year old Dre Parker who has to move to china because his mother (the hilarious Taraji P. Henson) gets a job transfer. Not long after he arrives he finds himself making enemies with some of his fellow schoolmates. Enemies who have no problem with beating the crap out of him to make sure he stays away from his crush, Mei Ying
I’ll say it now; some of the fight scenes are really hard to watch. I now understand why Australia wanted to change the rating to something higher than a PG but if we are being honest, most children have seen worse!
But have no fear, in comes Jackie Chan to save the day, add some humour and produce some very impressive kung fu skills. You know the story and they’ve stuck to the original plot like you would expect them to.
Of course, they changed the classic ‘wax on, wax off’ scene a little bit and added in some amazing scenes in Chinese temples which I thought worked really well. The film was funny with cute little jokes such as ‘airplane lag’ and the ping-pong scene. Perfect for kids and not too childish for the parents who have to watch it with them.
Jaden Smith proves that he has inherited the acting genes from his mother and father with an impressive performance. He can be funny, cute and show genuine emotion needed in deep scenes. He has more than enough potential to take over from his father and escape from his shadow.
Jackie Chan shines in a role that asks him to produce a very emotional scene and while I admit I get emotional very easily when watching films, a quick glance around the cinema revealed that many other women where touched by the car scene.
If we took the original out of our minds, this is an amazing film in its own right. I didn’t have a problem with the length or the changes made.
Even if people don’t enjoy the film, everyone has to admit the scenes involving the Kung Fu tournament livened things up and evoked all the emotions that you felt when you watch the original
I would prefer to call this a remix rather than a remake. They’ve taken the original, switched it up, adding in something new but the heart of the original is clearly there for everyone to see. People got so into this movie that when Jaden delivers to all important kick, cheers and claps filled the cinema. As the credits rolled up and the soundtrack began to play, the big smiles on everyone’s faces said it all. As the woman next to me said, ‘Wow, just wow’.
4.5 Out Of 5