New ‘Karate Kid’ movie will star Ben Wang in title role

Ben Wang

Ben Wang, the star of the Disney+ series “American Born Chinese,” has landed the lead role in the next installment of “The Karate Kid” franchise.

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Wang got the role after a worldwide search by Sony Pictures that included 10,000 entries on the first day submissions were accepted, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Quoting “studio insiders,” the publication said that Wang, 24, delivered a “standout audition” that “demonstrated his deep connection” to the lead character.

Sony has scheduled the film’s release for Dec. 13, 2024.

The new film also reunites Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio, who will reprise their roles, Variety reported. Macchio will again play Daniel LaRusso from the original “Karate Kid” film trilogy and the “Cobra Kai” series, Variety reported. Chan will return as Mr. Han, a kung fu master from the 2010 “Karate Kid” movie that also starred Jaden Smith.

Wang was aided by his fluency in Mandarin and his prowess across several forms of martial arts, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They include karate, wing chun/kung fu, gumdo, kempo and taekwondo.

Wang had already showcased some of those skills in “American Born Chinese,” when he starred in the adaptation of the novel by Gene Luen Yang that also starred Michelle Yeoh, the news entertainment website reported.

Few details about the upcoming installment in “The Karate Kid” have been released other than it being set on the East Coast, Deadline reported. It will focus on a teen from China who finds strength and direction from a mentor through martial arts.

The film will be directed by Jonathan Entwistle, who created and directed Netflix’s “I Am Not Okay With This,” according to Variety. Rob Lieber will write the screenplay, and Karen Rosenfelt was tapped as the producer.

The original “Karate Kid” movie, released in 1984, starred Macchio, Pat Morita and Elizabeth Shue.

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