Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

The Karate Kid

The Karate KidA fan of the original Ralph Macchio/Pat Morita version, I wasn’t sure whether this remake would measure up, but I was pleasantly surprised! First, the star, Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), is adorable in every way and is sure to have a solid career in the industry. He won my heart in The Pursuit of Happiness, playing alongside his dad. For one so young, he was funny, sassy, animated, romantic, and showed tremendous strength and flexibility in the Kung Fu segments. Obviously, he endured quite a bit of rigorous training before filming began.

The movie started out very similar to the original, with Dre (played by Smith) and his mom relocating to Beijing, China, due to a job promotion. With no friends, no understanding of the language, and being an anomaly because of his race and hairstyle, Dre quickly becomes the target of a gang of Kung Fu bullies who live by the “show no mercy” mantra. When a lovely Chinese girl pays Dre some attention, the bullies move in for the kill and use him to display their superb martial arts skills. The fight scenes are quite dramatic, and as a mother of three, I found them painful to watch, especially when afflicted on someone as adorable as Jaden Smith. The main bully, Cheng (played by Zhenwei Wang), was especially ferocious looking and was a formidable antagonist who kept the story’s conflict at an edge-of-the-seat level.

But the best part of the movie was the relationship between Dre and Mr. Han (played very convincingly by Jackie Chan). Han is the apartment building maintenance man who swoops in at the eleventh hour and protects Dre from another serious after-school Kung Fu beating. The rescue is dramatic, yet comedic, and had the whole audience laughing. Think martial arts, ballet, and the Three Stooges and you get the idea. When Han and Dre confront the bullies at their Kung Fu school, Han agrees to enter Dre into an upcoming open fighting competition to finalize the conflict with Cheng. This sets the story on a different track, where Han uses his unorthodox training methods to get Dre ready for the match, including taking his jacket on and off and hanging it on a peg (as opposed to the Macchio/Morita “wax on, wax off” and “paint the fence,” etc.).

There were some other funny moments between the brash American kid and the stoic, reclusive Chinese maintenance man, but I especially liked the tender moments between the two. The most memorable and touching was when Dre comforts Han over the lingering guilt and sadness from the loss of his wife and son to a tragic car accident.

There are also some breath-taking cinematic scenes at the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, where Han teaches Dre about the discipline and spiritual strength behind Kung Fu. This is when many conservative Christians get a little squirmy, especially when teachings about the “power within” and the equal struggle between good and evil and light and dark are espoused. There was even a bothersome scene where Dre was told an ancient legend about a bowl of supposed “magic water” at the top of the mountain that would provide strength and protection from enemies. While it was cute and funny to see Dre shove his whole face into the water, it is a sober reminder that these forms of spiritualism are a direct counterfeit of what Jesus Christ offers the world. Living water of the Holy Spirit is where the real power is, and there is no other.

** Spoiler Alert**

The worst scene (that almost made me not recommend the film) involved a woman performing slow and deliberate martial arts moves before a giant cobra—while standing on a very narrow mountain ledge! I hid my eyes, since I detest snakes, but as the movie progressed, I began to realize that this scene portrayed a very important Christian truth. Originally, Dre thought the snake was controlling the woman’s moves, but he learns from Han that it was the woman’s calm, silent confidence that controlled the snake. This foreshadows the ending of the movie and is a good example of how the Chrisitian who understands his or her authority in Jesus Christ has all power over the Enemy, Satan. In Luke 10:19 Jesus says, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

I was reminded of this truth as the movie progressed to the climactic moment where Dre fights his enemy, Cheng, and prevails, despite the odds against him. If you are able to see the movie from this light, then perhaps the non-Christian spiritual elements and the snake charming will be more tolerable.

While there are spiritual elements in the movie that do not line up with the Bible, I recommend it as an enjoyable family film for most ages. There is plenty of opportunity for the discerning Christian parent to explain biblical truth and correct false teachings, while at the same time be entertained by a sweet and tender story filled with action and excitement. If you haven’t gotten to the theater, then make sure you see The Karate Kid at the dollar theater or on DVD and enjoy!