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Sony’s ‘Karate Kid’ Movie Taps ‘American Born Chinese’ Star for Titular Role

Ben Wang as the 2023 SCAD TVfest

Sony has officially found the next “karate kid” for its upcoming Karate Kid movie, and the casting couldn’t be more perfect.

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It has been 14 years since the franchise received a new film installment. The series first kicked off with The Karate Kid (1984), captivating viewers with the tale of an underdog, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), becoming a karate champ through the teachings of the wise Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). Though none quite eclipsed the original film’s success, three direct sequels were produced, although Morita was the only original actor to return for the fourth film, The Next Karate Kid. By 2010, the series had received a remake starring Jackie Chan as Mr. Han, based on Mr. Miyagi.

While The Karate Kid (2010) was moderately successful, talks of a sequel slowly trailed off, and the next Karate Kid project, Cobra Kai, was wholly unrelated to the remake. However, the success of Cobra Kai did suggest that viewers were still interested in the original film series. Finally, in 2022, Sony announced that another Karate Kid film was on the way. This initially raised more questions than answers as viewers questioned whether it was a sequel to the original series or a remake. Fortunately, viewers received some answers when it was announced Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan were both returning for the new film. Sony’s Karate Kid has only gotten more exciting with the casting of its titular star.

Karate Kid (2024) has found its lead star

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Ben Wang has been cast in the titular role of the new Karate Kid movie. Wang is best known for starring as Jin Wang in Disney+’s American Born Chinese series. Out of the thousands of actors who auditioned for the role, Wang stood out to the casting directors. He fits the role quite well, as the casting call outlined the film was looking for a “Chinese or Mixed-Race Chinese” actor. Additionally, he has plenty of experience in martial arts, such as Karate, Wing Chun/Kung Fu, Gumdo, Kempo, and Taekwondo.

Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan to return for Karate Kid (2024)

In addition to Wang, Ralph Macchio, and Jackie Chan have also been officially cast in the new Karate Kid film and will be reprising their roles as LaRusso and Mr. Han, respectively. The news is quite exciting as Macchio previously revealed he knew nothing of the project and wasn’t certain he’d have anything to do with it. There were rumors of Chan’s return, though, raising suspicions that this was a sequel to The Karate Kid (2010). However, the original and remake seem to be crossing over in the new film. Macchio and Chan revealed their involvement while putting out the casting call for the next karate kid.

What to expect from Sony’s Karate Kid film

Ralph Macchio as Danny LaRusso in Cobra Kai
(Netflix)

Sony has set Karate Kid’s release date for December 13, 2024. The film was previously scheduled for June 7, 2024, but was delayed due to studios’ refusal to fairly pay writers and actors in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. However, even the December release date seems a little close, considering the film has only just found its lead star.

So far, no plot details have been revealed. Macchio’s and Chan’s casting, though, seems to confirm that this will be a sequel to both the original film series and the remake. Making the remake part of the same universe as the originals is a very interesting and surprising choice. This also means that the film should be in the same universe as Cobra Kai, though Cobra Kai’s co-creator Jon Hurwitz has stated he’s not involved in the film and it won’t be focused on the show’s characters or story.

Hence, it seems the new film will focus more on the film series. Given that the timeline is unknown, this film could happen before or after the events of Cobra Kai, which would explain why the show doesn’t figure much into it. Storywise, it seems likely that LaRusso and Mr. Han may team up to mentor Wang’s karate kid. Hopefully, it will manage to differentiate itself from previous films and also find a unique and meaningful reason for LaRusso’s and Mr. Han’s worlds to cross over.

(featured image: Paras Griffin / Getty)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.

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