New Karate Kid Movie Casts American Born Chinese’s Ben Wang as Lead

There’s a new Karate Kid in town.

The newest installment in the martial-arts franchise has found its new star: American Born Chinese‘s Ben Wang, who will play the lead character opposite Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan.

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Per THR, Wang was cast partly because he’s fluent in Mandarin and skilled in several forms of martial arts. In addition to American Born Chinese, his resume includes Search Party, The Last O.G., MacGyver and the musical Mean Girls movie.

Macchio and Chan will both reprise their roles from the previous movies. The new film is targeting a December 13, 2024 release, with Jonathan Entwistle (The End of the F***ing World) directing from a script written by Rob Lieber (Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween).

According to Sony Pictures, the studio behind the franchise, the movie will both fuse and continue the movies’ mythology. The new story will bring the characters to the East Coast and focus on “a teen from China who finds strength and direction via martial arts and a tough but wise mentor.”

Wang was cast after a global search for a Chinese actor to play the new “Karate Kid.” (Watch the video below.)

The original Karate Kid hit screens in 1984 and followed Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso, a Brooklyn teen who finds himself an unlikely karate champion after being trained by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), his apartment handyman and former karate master. It spawned two sequels, plus a spinoff movie (The Next Karate Kid, which also starred Morita) before it was remade in 2010 starring Jaden Smith and Chan.

A sequel series, Cobra Kai, hit YouTube Premium (fka YouTube Red) eight years later. After two seasons on that platform, the series eventually moved to Netflix, where it now awaits its sixth and final season. Set decades after the original films, the series stars William Zabka, reprising his role as former bully Johnny Lawrence, who reopens his old dojo in a bid to get his life back on track. Eventually, he teams up with LaRusso, now a rich and successful car dealer, to stop his old mentor John Kreese (Martin Kove) from destroying the minds of the Valley’s youth.

Are you excited to see LaRusso’s story continue on the big screen? Let us know in the comments below.

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