Ok, I'm going to have to admit it, I loved this movie. I approached this with no small degree of trepidation, since the original had a special place in my memory from my younger days, and I had the horrible feeling that a remake would just be more of the same but without Pat Morita and with a predictable dose of sweetener in it. But I was wrong - the story has been sufficiently given a new dimension by setting it in China, meaning the theme of the outsider being shunned is all the more relevant. Also Kung Fu is somehow a more appropriate martial art than Karate. The biggest and best surprise is in the casting - Jaden Smith is more than ever a mini-Will Smith with all the charisma that implies, but it is Jackie Chan that is quite a revelation, genuinely acting and emoting in a believable way, without his usual tongue in cheek approach. The end result is a genuine and quite affecting story with believable characters, which nods to the original in a satisfying way, without ever treading the same ground too obviously - no `wax on, wax off' here, but a novel alternative instead. It's a little grittier than the original, in a way that helps sell the danger in a more believable way, but leavens it with just enough heart to keep it in PG realm.
Yes it is not going to hold any big surprises for you, but if you're half human you're going to find it at least a little heart warming, and if it suffers a little from being somewhat of a Tourism Board approved advert for China at times, well it's beautiful enough scenery to forgive. It's arguably better than the original in many ways, better written, better fight choreography and some better ideas - but I wonder if even with all that going for it, it struggles to match the teacher - pupil chemistry of the original . Having said that, this is a real treat, far exceeded my expectations - recommended.