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The Karate Kid – Exclusive Harald Zwart interview

by Andy Gibbons

During the recent UK premiere for The Karate Kid, I managed to grab the movie’s director Harald Zwart for a brief chat during which we discussed his leading men, the work ethic on set and honour of filming in China.


I grew up with the original Karate Kid back in 1984 so how does this bring things into the 21st century?

I think the moral of the story is the same. It’s almost spoken directly by Jackie’s character; he says ‘Life will knock you down but we chose whether or not to get back up’. That is an eternal message and an eternal story. What we’ve done is just update it a bit by making it even more of a fish out of water story by moving [the main character] to China where he’s got the language barrier and he’s being bullied at school so those are the updates we’ve done. And obviously we’re proud of the fighting in the movie.

How important was it to film in China?

I’ve always had three wishes; I’ve wanted to film with Jackie Chan, I’ve wanted to work with Will Smith and I’ve wanted to shoot in China so it was really important to me. I loved filming there, it was just too good to be true.

Jaden steals the show as Dre Parker. How did you find working him?

He was the hardest working person on the whole crew. First he had to train for months and months before we started shooting and then while we were shooting he was still training. And he had to learn Chinese and all his lines; he was working every single day.


Finally, with Jackie teaching Jaden all his movies, did you pick anything up from the Kung Fu master?

I’ve been trying to spar with him, he’s just much too fast.

The Karate Kid opens in the UK on Wednesday July 28th.


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