A new Karate Kid movie has been confirmed by Sony Pictures, and while it hasn’t been confirmed whether or not it will be a reboot or continuation, it’s worth taking a look at how a new Karate Kid movie could be recast. A new film in the wildly successful Karate Kid franchise is set to be rebooted on June 7th 2024, nearly forty years after the original film hit cinemas. It starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso and Pat Morita as the iconic Mr Miyagi. While some of the original actors have continued their roles in Netflix’s Cobra Kai – including William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence – a new roster of actors could be well placed to come and breathe new life into the franchise.
Sony Pictures will be producing the upcoming 2024 Karate Kid film and may well choose to completely reboot the franchise, despite the fact that Cobra Kai season 5 has just been released and a sixth season could be on the way. If the studio does decide to bring in new actors to crane kick their way through a Karate Kid reboot, it would be interesting to explore who they could be. Here is a possible recast of the next Karate Kid film:
Ralph Macchio has played Daniel LaRusso through three Karate Kid films and the Cobra Kai Netflix show. To many he simply is LaRusso, but all great roles can be recast if done properly. Noah Schnapp is a young actor who is starting to build a filmography beyond Stranger Things and could be the perfect choice to take the mantle from Macchio. His memorable role as Will Byers will continue into the fifth and final season of Stranger Things and a starring role in the Karate Kid would be the perfect next step. Evolving into an actor as charismatic as his Stranger Things co-stars (Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin) Schnapp hasn’t really branched out into Hollywood in the same was as say Finn Wolfhard, who appeared in the IT movie reboots or Brown who starred in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Schnapp has the fresh, bright-eyed face of someone who has moved to a new school, but standing at 5’9’’ he also has the physicality to bring believability to someone who has just started learning karate. As Byers in Stranger Things, especially later in the seasons, Schnapp also revealed a depth to his acting, portraying fear, joy and courage when needed. All attributes a budding karate kid would need.
Mr. Miyagi is one of the most iconic characters to ever grace the screen and it would take an actor with nobility, wisdom and humor to step into the huge shoes of the late Pat Morita. While there’s no lack of Chinese actors who could tackle the part (Chow Yun-fat and Jet Li are two other strong contenders), Tony Leung Chiu-wai – who played Xu Wenwu in Shangi-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – would easily be top of the list. The 60-year-old has put decades of work into a wildly successful film career in China, and has most recently broken into Hollywood with a brilliant turn as Wenwu in Shang-Chi. He’s older than Morita was when he starred in the first Karate Kid film and Chiu-wai exuded stoicism and wisdom in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, two reasons he’d easily fill the mentor role LaRusso needs. A lead role in the next Karate Kid film would build upon the actor’s success in the eyes of a western audience and cement him as a global screen icon.
Jack Dylan Grazer may not be an obvious pick for the brash and bullish Johnny Lawrence in the Karate Kid, but his boyish, light image betrays an ability to play mean if needed. The young actor most recently voiced Superboy in Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons, and he’ll reprise his role as Freddy Freeman in Shazam! Fury of the Gods later this year. In the latter he plays Billy Batson’s sardonic and sharp-witted foster brother, illuminating an edge to his acting that could be molded into something crueler, in line with the personality of LaRusso’s antagonist Lawrence. Additionally, Grazer played goofy in the first IT adaptation, but pulled courage and aggression out of the bag when eventually pushed to the edge by Pennywise. Getting Grazer to play against type and don the black belt of the iconic Johnny Lawrence wouldn’t be a stretch and could serve to diversify the actor’s image.
Elsie Fisher was astounding in Eighth Grade (directed by standup comedian Bo Burnham), portraying intelligence, anger and humor. She’s an actress who commands the screen and demands the audience’s attention, something essential for a reboot of the Karate Kid. Ali Mills is a character in the first Karate Kid film who, if not portrayed with charisma, could be lost in the drama, action and nostalgia of seeing LaRusso, Mr. Miyagi and John Creese back on the big screen. While Mills could simply be seen as the love interest of LaRusso and a plot device to get both LaRusso and Lawrence to rub each other the wrong way, she has grit under her kindly exterior, confronting Lawrence after he beats up LaRusso in the original Karate Kid. Fisher has both the grit and the charm to accurately portray a recast Ali Mills.
There would be no Karate Kid without the karate kid’s main family; Lucille LaRusso, a quietly essential character in the Karate Kid canon. Daniel’s mother is the reason they moved to Reseda and inadvertently the reason why Daniel met Mr. Miyagi and pursued karate outside of the Cobra Kai dojo. Christina Ricci might usually play unusually dark characters, but she often does so with a comforting charm. Instead of simply casting a safe, reliable background actress to portray Daniel’s one family member, Ricci would instead provide an interesting alternative in a recast Karate Kid. Lucille and Daniel’s relationship needs to be strong and believable. Both Ricci and a recast Noah Schnapp have similar, offbeat energies that could work well together, giving their relationship an edge and believability that would make it memorable.
John Kreese is the true villain of the Karate Kid franchise. The brutal, unhinged, and calculating Creese abhorred weakness and taught his students at the original Cobra Kai to show no mercy to their opponents. Taylor Lautner not only has the furrowed brow and aggressive energy needed to play Creese, he also is a black belt in real life. The actor famed for playing Jacob Black in the Twilight series took his first karate lesson at the age of six and earned his black belt by the age of eight. Not only would it be intriguing to see Lautner play a true antagonist and villain, but he could also do it with all the believability of someone who actually knows karate.