Friday, September 17, 2010

The Karate Kid / The Kung Fu Kid (2010)

American woman with primary school kid elects to relocate to Beijing without much of the kind of preparation more judicious migrants might undertake, such as learning Chinese or at least making sure her little boy has a grounding in the language before setting off. Result, kid gets beaten up by local peer group.

Solution? Kid turns to Jackie Chan for lessons. Not Chinese lessons, which might have got to the root of the problem, but Kung Fu lessons, and is thus soon equipped to kick some Chinky butt, albeit in an admirably non-aggressive fashion.

Along the way said kid learns that it is bad to throw one's jacket on the floor upon entering one's house. He does also end up with a smattering of Mandarin, which enables him to win a Chinese sweetheart from under the protective arms of her parents...but anyway, she, them and almost everyone else over there, seems to speak perfect English (even janitor Jackie Chan), so this is just the icing on the cake really.

I actually really enjoyed this remake. I like anything with Jackie Chan: it's not hard to see why he still has more Facebook fans than Lionel Messi. In spite of everything I said above, the movie is pretty smart, well-observed and has a winning central performace from Will Smith's son Jaden.

The somewhat cynical synopsis above owes its origin in fact to some typically whingey ex-pat blog commentary recently showcased by Mr sludge-tinted spectacles himself.

Truth is that I still struggle to fully empathise with anyone who attempts to make a permanent home here without bothering to equip their family with conversational Spanish well in advance of all the pre-departure and post-arrival bureaucracy. Kids, in particular learn fast. In five weeks most should be capable of attending lessons in Spanish, which is surely the best way to adapt to a promising young life in Guatemala.

Colegio Boston meanwhile, belongs to a class of clip joints which are perfectly primed to take advantage of people with more money than sense, and there are many such parents amongst the indigenes without the need for the predictable influx of monoglot foreigners. It started off rather like Quesos y Vino, a small and 'exclusive' establishment which grew popular and as a result relocated to ever more spacious premises with progressive slips in quality, but no real let up on the 'exclusive' classification.

One should tend to be suspicious of schools advertising themselves as 'bilingual' here in Guatemala. All this label tends to mean is that they employ a few professional wasters from abroad who couldn't even get a gig with the Peace Corps. It pleases better-off Chapines that their little darlings are the acolytes of such worthy gringo masters, but truth is that the likes of the Colegio Colonial Bilingue in Panorama are the local equivalent of the shoddy, overpriced English schools one finds in London's Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street.

A better way to research local educational opportunities in Antigua might even be to stand and watch all the bandas circulating the Parque Central every September 15. Well organised and well-presented colegios like La Salle and el Tridentino look a safer bet superficially at least, than schools which can't even be bothered to kit their pupils out in uniforms which fit.

Grade: B+

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