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New Karate Kid movie taps lead from cancelled Disney+ series

He seems like a perfect choice.

Ben Wang in American Born Chinese
Image credit: Disney+

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The new Karate Kid movie has found its star in American Born Chinese's Ben Wang, who'll be joining Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio.

The Hollywood Reporter dropped the exclusive yesterday, February 12, putting an end to the global search the studio started in late 2023. Studio insiders claim "Wang delivered a standout audition that demonstrated his deep connection to the character" which won him the role when coupled with his martial arts experience.

Those who watched the now-cancelled Disney+ series American Born Chinese, a strong adaptation of the coming-of-age fantasy graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, know Wang is more than up to the task, so this is inspired casting on Sony's part.

We know the story is supposed to join together the 2010 Karate Kid movie, in which Chan and Jaden Smith tried to lead a reboot of the franchise, and the much more successful Cobra Kai series by YouTube and Netflix. So yeah, it looks like Karate Kid is essentially becoming a shared universe of sorts.

Plot details are otherwise being kept under wraps, but we do know the story is moving to the East Coast of the United States and will focus on "a teen from China who finds strength and direction via martial arts and a tough but wise mentor (or maybe even two)." We're not expecting things to play out very differently from past installments of the surprisingly long-lived franchise, but its fandom is probably more than okay with that.

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