Meet the new Karate Kid: “American Born Chinese” star Ben Wang lands lead role in next movie

Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio are both reprising their roles in the upcoming installment of the long-running franchise.

It's time for a new Karate Kid to learn how to wax on… and wax off.

The next movie in Sony's long-running Karate Kid franchise will star Ben Wang, the actor known for his work on the Disney+ series American Born Chinese, EW has confirmed. After a worldwide casting search, Wang is said to have delivered a standout audition demonstrating a deep connection to the character; he's also fluent in Mandarin and skilled in numerous martial arts, including karate, wing chun kung fu, kempo, and taekwando.

Wang joins a cast that includes Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio, both of whom are reprising their roles from previous Karate Kid movies.

<p>Emma McIntyre/Getty Images</p> Ben Wang

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Ben Wang

The franchise also known as the Miyagi-verse all began with the original Karate Kid movie in 1984, starring Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, a kid from Brooklyn who moves to Southern California and learns self-defense from Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). Three big-screen sequels followed — The Karate Kid Part II, The Karate Kid Part III, and The Next Karate Kid — and in 2010 Sony produced a modern reboot starring Jaden Smith as an American kid who moves to China and is mentored by a martial arts master played by Chan. More recently, Macchio and several castmates have reprised their Karate Kid roles on the YouTube-turned-Netflix TV series Cobra Kai.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported Wang's casting, the new Karate Kid film will move the story to the East Coast, focusing on a teenager from China who finds strength and direction in martial arts.

The new movie is being directed by Jonathan Entwistle (The End of the F***ing World), written by Rob Lieber (Peter Rabbit), and produced by Karen Rosenfelt. It's scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 13.

In addition to starring opposite Michelle Yeoh on American Born Chinese, Wang can currently be seen in the Mean Girls movie musical.

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