My children reached a major milestone in their life recently, when I screened the new film “Chinese Zodiac” for them on Blu-ray. The film isn't one of Jackie Chan's best, but it has several fun set pieces, and the closing credits are like a giant overview of Jackie's whole career, along with footage of his stunts going wrong, a long-time tradition for his movies.
They have now both declared Jackie Chan The Coolest Person Alive and they're desperate to see more of his movies. I get it, because I know so many movie fans who have had that same lightning bolt moment with Jackie Chan movies over the years. You see him do something that defies logic and safety and the rules of physics, and next thing you know, you're in Chinatown trying to find an import Blu-ray of the uncut “Drunken Master 2.”
What really blew their minds, though, was when I told them that “Chinese Zodiac” was not the first film they've seen him in. Toshi told me I was crazy and refused to believe me until I brought out the Blu-ray for the remake of “The Karate Kid,” a movie that they both watched four or five times after it arrived at the house. They really enjoyed the film, but for some reason, they never connected the Jackie Chan who plays Mr. Miyagi in that film with the Jackie Chan from “Chinese Zodiac.” Once Toshi finally got his head around it, he was even more impressed.
As a result, I can't wait to tell them that “The Karate Kid 2” is going to happen, and that Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan are both returning to their roles. I'm curious to see where they go with this one narratively. When I was a projectionist in Florida, one of the films that we played for the longest consecutive run at our theater was 1986's “The Karate Kid Part II.” It played for 55 weeks. Yes, you read that right. It opened in the summer, and it played on at least one screen in our theater for over a year. And even at the end, even with our print threatening to fall to pieces every time it ran through the projector, people were still paying to see “The Karate Kid Part II” every single day. Whether I like it or not, I have that film basically memorized.
Because the remake took a very different approach to telling its story and was set in China, I wonder if they'll invert the way the original sequel worked by having Mr. Miyagi join Jaden's character in America. Whatever they do with it, I'm actually glad to see Breck Eisner signed to direct it. I think Eisner's done some very solid and enjoyable work so far. His remake of “The Crazies” was way better than it had any right being, and that was four years ago. I feel like he should have worked more than that. “Sahara” isn't great, but there's a lightness of touch that Eisner brought to it that was a definitely benefit to the movie.
I'm not surprised they announced a sequel. I am surprised it took this long, though. The earliest this can be released would be next year, so that makes five years between films. That seems like an eternity in modern Hollywood, where they're so franchise crazy at this point that they're often writing the next film before the first one opens.
We'll see when and how this one comes together.