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New Karate Kid movie finds its leading star

ben wang
New Karate Kid movie finds its leading starDominik Bindl

The hunt for the new Karate Kid is over, as Ben Wang has been cast in the lead role for the previously-announced movie.

Known for playing Jin Wang on Disney+ action comedy American Born Chinese, Wang will portray protagonist Li Fong in the upcoming film in the Karate Kid franchise, greenlit off the back of spinoff series Cobra Kai's worldwide success.

The actor won the coveted role, originally played by Ralph Macchio in the 1984 cult martial arts movie, in an open casting that attracted 10,000 entries in the first 24 hours of its posting.

He impressed the casting team with a "standout" audition, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

ben wang poses on the red carpet wearing a black suit with a white shirt and black tie, smiles at the cameras with his hands in his pockets
Emma McIntyre

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Following the official announcement, Wang was welcomed to the Karate Kid family in an Instagram post. He also commented on the big moment in his Instagram Stories, simply writing: "wild" alongside a screenshot of the announcement.

In November 2023, Macchio and Jackie Chan, who are both reprising their roles from previous Karate Kid movies, shared details of the global audition process in a YouTube video.

"The global search for the star of our new film starts right now, so let's wax on, wax off everybody," Macchio said in the clip.

Character information shared on the casting notice described Li Fong as "smart, scrappy and a skilled martial artist".

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Meanwhile, Cobra Kai is getting ready to bring its sixth and final season to fans, with co-creators Josh Heald, Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz sharing an update on progress with the new batch of episodes following last year's actors and writers' strikes.

"We are in the writers' room working feverishly and we have been since the WGA strike ended," Heald told Deadline in December.

"We are going back into production after the new year on the biggest, boldest season we've done yet."

Schlossberg added that presuming no unforeseen circumstances, there's "hope to get this [final season] out ASAP for the fans who have been waiting".

The as-yet-untitled new Karate Kid film is expected to be released in late 2024.

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