Why "Karate" kid? Why not "Kung Fu" kid? Or Will Smith's kid?
Well, I was in Jr.High back in the 80's when Pat and Ralph first "waxed-on, waxed-off" and I've been a fan ever since...so please understand that I went to this film with the attitude of, "They'd better make this good, or someone's gonna get some Crane Technique all over themselves!!!"
Also, after what I felt was a lack-luster performance from Jaden Smith in "The Day the Earth Stood Still", again I was ready to be disappointed.
That said, I was actually refreshingly surprised. I thought this Karate Kid had an honest, believable story. Characters that and made the audience interested and made us care. All of this and a beautiful backdrop of seldom seen China to top it off.
Now for the question of the hour. "Karate!!! It was Kung-Fu. What gives?"
Ok, well fundamentally, this is the same story that we all fell in love with back in the 80's. Teen angst, immeasurable odds to confront, a huge move to a foreign country (and yes, Jersey to California should require a passport). So it's a remake, it gets the same name.
Ok, now...to get a little Kung-Fu-y on you:
A common theme of Jackie Chan movies is the whole "can't fill a filled cup" idea. This is actually bulwark of Kung-Fu teachings where you must let go of what you know (or think you know) to gain new knowledge.
At one point in this remake, (and here's the "spoiler") Tre (Smith, "The Kid") is trying to get some fighting skills by watching a weak Karate "how to" on television. He had taken some Karate back in the states before his big move to China and he thought that would hold water to the Kung-Fu being used to kick his butt. When Jackie Chan agreed to take on the role of Smith's teacher, he let him know that he would have to unlearn whatever he had learned...which at that point had only been Karate, hense, "Karate Kid."
A stretch, but go with the "remake" explanation. Easier to stomach. All in all, my wife, a couple of friends we went with, and I all give the film (from 1 to 10) a 9.