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MOVIE REVIEWS: The A-Team / The Karate Kid

Our critic didn't want to waste four hours actually seeing these remakes

The A-Team: Rates a D.
Courtesy photo

I had a debate with local film critic Scott Marks recently. I thought it was lame that Roger Ebert reviewed a movie he had only watched the first eight minutes of. As Marks pointed out, Ebert tells you this in his review, and doesn’t try to deceive the reader.

I just think when you’re job is to review movies, often times that means sitting through two hours of crap to do your job.

Restaurant critics might occasionally have a meal they hate, or one that has them in the bathroom all night. It doesn’t mean in future reviews they try an appetizer and walk out if they aren’t happy.

But I remembered a few times I was on KOGO 600 and we did a bit where we’d review movies before they came out, based merely on the trailers. I’d usually see the movies the following week, and was pretty accurate.

I thought I would employ that technique with two films that are out right now, but they made huge money at the box office their opening weekend. And this will save me from wasting four hours of my life (and really, did Karate Kid need to be 2 ½ hours?).

The film studios made it I Love the 80s week with the release of The Karate Kid and The A-Team.

Let’s start with Murdock and the boys.

I’ve seen all the movies of the '80s and loved the music (can’t blame me…they were my high school years). I didn’t watch many '80s TV shows, though. I can count the '80s TV shows I liked on one hand: Cheers, Doogie Howser, Moonlighting, and Family Ties.

I remember my stepdad would occasionally come home drunk, and laugh hysterically at Alf. I had watched Robin Williams play an alien in Mork, and couldn’t understand why a muppet looking creature would pass for an alien life form.

I had a neighbor that saw a four episodes of The A-Team and he told me all about it. That’s the extent of my knowledge, which I think, more than qualifies me to write about the show and movie.

I don’t think it makes any difference, just as it doesn’t when a person has read the book the movie is based on.

I know the Mohawk dude was played by Mr. T, and now by Rampage Jackson, an ultimate fighter. Bradley Cooper, who often takes crap movies, is on board. And Liam Neeson, who must’ve enjoyed shooting bad guys in Taken so much, that he became the cigar chompin’ Hannibal in this (can anyone hear the name Hannibal and not think of Anthony Hopkins?).

I think it’s funny that Jessica Biel made such a big deal about saying how bad the writing was on her TV show, and she has no problem with the script for A-Team.

At least the A-Team was a TV show, and they could create an original movie based on that. They updated it (instead of Vietnam Vets, now Iraq war soldiers), and show how these renegades all met.

But in the commercials, I saw a scene that had a tank attached to parachutes, gently floating down as someone was shooting machine guns from it and taking down planes. The effects looked like bad CGI. I’m guessing the logistics of how a tank could even do this, doesn’t bother the people there to see it. I think it’s easier to give a pass to a spaceship in District 9 that defies gravity, because those creatures had advanced technology. That doesn’t mean any action picture can just do this stuff.

I remember being a teenager at the movies watching a Chuck Norris film, and realizing the acting was awful. There was a trailer for a new movie with an action star named Steven Segal, and I figured I’d just outgrown Norris; but after seeing how awful that was, I just realized I was getting to the age where I demanded movies have interesting plot lines, character development, and action pictures couldn’t just have an explosion every five seconds.

Does anyone really remember the goofy car chase scenes in a movie like Gone in 60 Seconds, or do you remember the chase scenes in The French Connection and Bullitt?

During the trailer for the A-Team, my friend said, “Are people actually going to go see this?” I said in my Kevin Costner/Field of Dreams voice: If you remake it, they will come.

I followed that with my Mr. T voice – I pity the fool who spends $11 to see this garbage!

I talked to two friends that have seen it. One liked it and the other hated it, saying there was “too much action, and not enough of a story.”

I’m guessing if you’re going to see this movie, you know what you’re in store for and probably won’t be disappointed. Those that think it looks stupid are probably right.

The A Team doesn’t get an A. It gets a D.

Now, The Karate Kid, well…that’s a remake that falls into that category of remakes that don’t need to be remade. Not sure why they did Willy Wonka again, as the original still holds up and is quoted by newer generations.

To quote Roger Ebert (who writes great pieces on film, but has horrible taste in movies): “Why remake good movies? They should remake bad movies, and fix all the problems that made them bad.”

Usually with these Rocky type of sports films, you know who is going to win the big fight, but you still get sucked in. I have a hard time figuring out how someone could get sucked in, when Will Smith’s kid Jaden looks 7-years-old. He was the perfect age in The Pursuit of Happyness, but he’s just too young to pull this off. Not the action sequences which, from what I’ve seen, this boy has the chops. Karate chops. Or, kung fu chops, since they changed it to that martial arts form (no word on why the movie title didn’t change to something like Kung Fu Fighting).

I remember Ralph Machio, who as a kid I first saw in Eight is Enough (when it jumped the shark and had to bring in a cute new sibling to liven things up). He played the naïve boy being bullied by older kids, perfectly. Jaden Smith looks like some young rapper who I can see myself wishing would get his face kicked in.

Jackie Chan is getting raved reviews for his understated performance, but…when Pat Morita played the wise karate instructor -- the cool thing about that is we all recognized him as Arnold from Happy Days. Now,

The Karate Kid: Rates a C-.
Courtesy photo

instead of giving Richie advice on how to kiss LoriBeth, he was teaching Macchio how to be macho (well, as macho as you can be standing there like a crane on one leg waiting to throw a kick).

I heard there’s a scene where Chan beats up a bunch of 12-year-olds. It’s one thing when Morita beats up 18 to 22-year-olds thugs that look like James Spader on steroids…another when it’s kids that aren’t even in high school.

These movies have fun cameos: Mr. T doesn’t make it in A-Team, but Dirk Benedict has a small role. I didn’t hear about Karate Kid having any, but I saw in the commercial a take-off on the scene where a fly is buzzing around Chan. He has chop sticks in his hand. Instead of catching it the way Morita did, he uses a fly swatter that’s in the other hand. That’s cute.

It’s weird how most Hollywood actors go on the late night shows and talk about how they try talking their kids out of getting into the movies. Will Smith, who seems like an intelligent guy, continues to push his kid in the industry. He developed this project specifically for his son (damn, my dad made me get a paper route when I wanted more allowance). And from his appearance on Letterman last week, I’m guessing this little guy is on the path to becoming one of the child actors that doesn’t turn out well.

If you have children and like the idea of taking them to this rare kids movie that you might enjoy, go for it. I’d say rent the original Karate Kid (and hey…it might inspire your kid to wax your car for strength, instead of just for the allowance money).

And for adults that are thinking they might get a kick out of Karate Kid (sorry, I couldn’t resist)…watch this instead:

It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on YouTube in some time.

Another problem with this movie is bullying. We’ve heard so many stories the last few years about the Internet and kids killing themselves due to bullying. In 1984 when the original Karate Kid came out, it was a different world we lived in. Although in the Hollywood world, we get Kick-Ass, and a remake that wasn’t necessary, that still let us imagine how much fun it is when the nerds turn the tables on the bullies.

I’m giving The Karate Kid, which I didn’t see, a C-.