DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! The Karate Kid And Red Dawn: Two Movie Remake-Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

June 4th, 2010 | 12 comments | Posted by Jen

NEWSFLASH: China is America’s enemy.

Okay, so this is not news exactly. But it’s a meme that’s getting some pop cultural attention this year with the release of two 80′s movie remakes that promote the idea–two of my favorite movies growing up, as it so happens–The Karate Kid, which opens in a week, and Red Dawn, which will debut in November.

The new Karate Kid is set in Beijing, where those oversized, sandy-haired thugs, aka Cobra Kai, have been updated into a gang of oversized, slanty-eyed thugs.

Say what you will about bad guys, but they always know how to rock a uniform, even when it’s dorky as hell

There are good Chinese people to balance out this “I am extremely terrified of Chinese people” paranoia, in the form of Jackie Chan, the remake’s Mr. Miyagi–redubbed Mr. Han, to be culturally appropriate, despite the now-culturally inappropriate title (karate is Japanese)–and Jaden Pinkett-Smith’s character’s love interest, Meiying. Which makes the idea that China’s the new bully on the block and America’s the new underdog somehow more palatable, right?

Cue “Glory of Love”!


The Red Dawn remake does The Karate Kid one better in the Fear of a Yellow Planet department, and by better, I mean, of course, much much worse. Last week, The Awl leaked parts of the movie’s script, which appears to be even more of a xenophobic hot mess than expected.

Kill ‘em all!

The Chinese = The New Nazis

It didn’t take long for the Chinese media to pick up on this and add the Red Dawn remake to the already long list of things “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.” [An aside: Dibs on this as the name for my future emo band.] The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos, who lives in Beijing, then responded to the Chinese reaction to the leaked script with “Red Dawn Again,” where he wrote:

Before we begin hearing about the “hurtfeelingsoftheChinesepeople,” I would point out that this film also hurts the feelings of some American people who know we can do better than this.

O-kay, but before we begin hearing about that, I would point out that this film also and ESPECIALLY hurts the feelings of Chinese American people (like me). And it confuses us.

Because how do we get behind the American hero when, for 120 minutes, people like us are cast, yet again, in the role of the foreign villains?

How are we supposed to feel about a movie in which we look like the bully, but feel like the underdog?

And who do we root for when we have the face of the enemy, but the heart of a Wolverine?

[Red Dawn Chinese enemy photo via Red Dawn 2010]

[The Awl: Real America: "Red Dawn" Remade: China is Coming for Our Children]
[The Shanghaiist: Red Dawn remake hurting the feelings of the Chinese people]

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12 Responses to “DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! The Karate Kid And Red Dawn: Two Movie Remake-Wrongs Don’t Make A Right”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by DISGRASIAN™, DISGRASIAN™, Jasmïne Davïla, Racebending.com, jasminedavila and others. jasminedavila said: RT @disgrasian DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! The Karate Kid And Red Dawn: Two Movie Remake-Wrongs Don’t Make A Right http://dlvr.it/1Rzz0 [...]

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  3. Jason A. says:

    All I have to say is thank god I have the internet and a Netflix subscription so I have access to Asian cinema. I feel like I can’t watch any American movies without at least one scene that seems specifically aimed towards making me feel like shit about myself or my heritage.

  4. quadshock says:

    I agree with this article. However I do want to point out one thing…

    They kept the “Karate Kid” name because in the movie, when Smith first fights the kids make fun of his moves as being closer to karate than kung fu. Hence the nickname “Karate Kid”. It’s a little forced, but it’s a way for them to keep the name of the franchise

  5. Jen says:

    @quadshock Well, okay, at least they tried.

  6. PoweredByRice says:

    I’ve known about this Red Dawn remake for some time now, and I’ve been dreading it. I think in one of drafts of the script they have the obligatory Chinese American cheerleader who serves as a love interest for one of the American (white) heroes.

    So not only do the white heroes get to mow down hordes of faceless Asian men, they get the Asian chick too!

    Sometimes, I just want to give Hollywood the middle finger.

  7. weissman says:

    I actually think Karate Kid is going to be pretty good, I like the actors involved and I have read some good things about it on asian media sites.

    Lers face it the first one wasn’t that good and the second Red Dawn gives me a headache just thinking about it. I hope it dies a quick death and disapears into Direct to DVD oblivion

  8. Cindy says:

    @PoweredByRice the bad just gets worse! Besides the best Chinese “invasion” would be for them to stop making the $2.99 ‘everythings’ that are our daily dependency. Much more effective.

  9. weissman says:

    It’s fuuny that anyone can make a chinese invasion movie with a straight face. Think about it. China hold a huge amount of US Treasury Bonds, they basically finance a ton of US debt and we (The US) are currently one of china’s biggest customers. IF we tank they would be right behind us.

    Why would China ever want to totally wreck their own economy and invade us (Laugh). Not to mention the whole laughable military aspect of this (Trust me I know)

  10. Terry Fischer says:

    Interesting, but inaccurate—on many counts.

    At least the original Karate Kit was very loosely about KARATE. This new version is actually about KUNG FU. Damn it, they should have called it “The Kung Fu Kid”. Another one of my childhood memories has been tarnished by Hollywood. (Sigh.)

    And, as a side note, Jaden Smith has totally screwed up every role he was ever given. He single-handedly fucked up “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Even Keenu Reeves couldn’t top that suck-ass performance.

    The original Red Dawn was one of the best action movies of the early 1980’s. Since the USSR/Russia doesn’t exist as a superpower to fear and the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan, Italy, etc.) were soundly defeated in WWII, the next nearest country to frame as an enemy of the United States in a current-day action drama would be China.

    Economically, China is both a trading partner and a competitor to the United States. When we are discussing human rights and dignity, the weird blend of totalitarian Communist/pure capitalist government in power in mainland China is every democratic country’s enemy. Witness the slave labor that China sells to the highest corporate bidder (yes, I am talking about you Apple, HP, etc.).

  11. Jen says:

    Another possible title for the new Karate Kid: “My-Parents-Bought-Me-This-Movie-Role Kid.” A mouthful, but accurate! It also applies to Red Dawn, starring Connor Cruise, son of Crazypants Couchfucker.

  12. PoweredByRice says:

    @Terry Fischer: I don’t dispute the fact that there are many labor abuses in China, but you also have to acknowledge the fact that China’s government has managed to lift over 300 MILLION people out of poverty and into the middle class in the last 20 years.

    300 Million people is about equal the size of America’s entire population.

    Tell me, how many Americans have been lifted out of poverty by our government in the last 20 years?

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