Friday, June 18, 2010

KarateKid 2010: "Life can knock you down, but you choose whether to get up or not."

Karate Kid had a very simple and predictable plot. The dialogues are also simple, yet in their simplicity one can catch profound virtues that teach about life.

Kung Fu is life, it is not about fighting for the kill, it is not also about winning. Kung Fu is about making the best of life. Kung Fu is about peace. These are some of the thoughts that I could recall from watching Karate Kid.

I knew I watched the originals decades ago, not from the cinema but from its reruns on TV. It has the same plot, ending in the same way. A kid is beaten up in life by other kids who have physical strength. Then he finds a silent skillful kung fu master, he trains, he competes and then he wins the tournament. Except for a change of setting, this one is not so different.

The movie made me cry several times, not on those mushy moments when Mister Han cried, but on moments where Drei would rise up from being knocked down. True, there are things that the eyes can not see, and when we think of things only with our eyes, we do not really get the most sense of what we see.

My eyes had a feast on the scenic spots of Beijing, the old and the new Beijing from this movie. My eyes enjoyed the cute face of Jaden Smith, but my eyes also saw things that I think should not be there in the movie -- some sort of misrepresentation of culture, which could also mean something else.

I got shocked, like how the viewers of that shadow puppet show were, when Drei and Mei Li kissed. Childish that may be, but it worried me as to what message this could send the viewers. Drei, in the movie was just 12 and so was MeiLi. What would kids think about this? What could they understand and learn about such image? The kissing took a few seconds, but what does torrid lip-kissing mean? A little China girl kissing a black American kid or a black American kid kissing a little China, doesn't really seem so oriental to me. Does it suggest post-modern perspectives of broken cross-cultural boundaries, or a merging of powerful supracultures?

Is it sending a signal that times have changed? Is it saying that in this postmodern life, kids can just lock their lips, in hiding without really understanding of what why they are doing it. It reflects, how the pleasure-driven id makes people childish.Then what's next? There was remission though, about friendship and being best friends. But I understand this with an adult perspective. Kids learn what they see, and they do as what they see, without even thinking about it.

That's what KungKu training is about, thinking beyond what the eyes can see and changing one's attitudes to be better. That's discipline. In the movie, the Chinese kids were the villains, they beat up Drei, a new kid on the block who have not so adjusted well in his new home, for some irrational reasons. But Drei as an underdog has found strenght in the end. Strentht not to fight or win, but the strength face his enemy and never to be knocked down again. Relating this to cross-cultural and political economic situations, a critical thinker can wonder about how America, under Obama's regime could rise up from being knocked down by China's economic strenght.

KungFu strength is drawn out from the i-ching, - the energy from within. This energy is the balance between one's weaknesses and strength. The mastery of one's good and bad sides, which requires discipline. Sourcing this energy is one's choice, not any one elses. Not everyone is able to master himself, and draw the energy from his environment.

The thing I like the most is the theme of the movie, getting up by one's self and having concern for another's life. That is KungFu. Whether the movie was titled wrongly because it's not about karate, it hits critical viewers to think about people and care for life.