The ’80s are back and I’m not just talking about hipsters who can be seen trolling around coffee shops sporting shoulder pads and tight jeans. Movie studios have started remaking cherished Reagan-era classics with a vengeance. This year already saw the release of “Fame” and “The Stepfather” while next year promises a “Tron” reboot, along with remakes of “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Clash of the Titans,” and “Red Dawn.” There’s even talk of a new “Footloose” movie in the works.

It’s easy to point at this trend and curse Hollywood for being unable to think of original ideas, but the remake is a time-honored Hollywood tradition. And not every remake is a craven attempt at cashing in. “The Maltese Falcon” and “Ocean’s Eleven” were remakes, after all. The key to creating a good remake is a new take on the original movie.

One ’80s flick getting an unusual angle is “The Karate Kid”: as you can see from the trailer below, the movie is set in China. In this updated version, Daniel has been redubbed as Dre (Jaden Smith), a ten-year old kid who finds himself in Beijing when his mother gets a job transfer. Just as in the 1984 original, he finds himself targeted by a bunch of bullies until a kindly handyman, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), teaches him how to fight. Tournament glory invariably ensues.

Setting the film in China opens up a world of possibilities and complications not present in the original. The Valley — with its palm trees, taco trucks, and 70 degree December days — might seem exotic to a kid from Jersey, but it doesn’t hold a candle to China. While this allows the filmmakers to have sweeping shots of the Forbidden City and a workout sequence on the Great Wall of China, it also raises some questions. Will any of the movie be in Chinese? How much are the filmmakers going to deal with the cultural and historical issues that separate the US and the Middle Kingdom? Ralph Macchio was no brute, but will 10 year-old Jaden be able to deliver a convincing beat down? And will Mr. Han’s training refrain “Jacket on, jacket off” be as memorable as Mr. Miagi’s “Wax on, wax off?” All of these questions will be answered next summer on June 11th.

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