“The Karate Kid” is the movie series that keeps on giving.
Earlier this month, original franchise star Ralph Macchio and Jackie Chan, who starred in the 2010 “Karate Kid” remake, announced they will play their characters in a new “Karate Kid” movie, news that stunned fans like a crane kick to the face.
Originally released in 1984, “The Karate Kid” became a monster hit and has endured with a timeless appeal. The movie spawned two sequels, in 1986 and 1989, as well as the Netflix spinoff series "Cobra Kai," which revisits the rivalry of Macchio's Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka's Johnny Lawrence, his antagonist in the first film.
Hilary Swank also starred in 1994’s “The Next Karate Kid,” which did not feature Macchio, but did see Pat Morita reprise his role from the first three movies as wise, soft-spoken karate master Mr. Miyagi.
Originating as a movie, becoming a TV show and then returning as a movie is about as rare as catching a fly with chopsticks, but it’s a move that speaks to the staying power of “The Karate Kid.”
The announcement of the new big-screen endeavor was heavy on hype, light on details. There was no plot revealed and Macchio and Chan directed people to a website if they’d like to be considered for the role of the new “Karate Kid.” Right now, fans are ready to wax on wax off the deep end as they question what’s in store.
And we do indeed have questions. Here’s a look at what we’re wondering about the new movie.
Will the movie take place in the 'Cobra Kai' universe?
Perhaps the most glaring issue is the most difficult to answer right now. “Cobra Kai” has been an Emmy-nominated success and there’s still one more season of the show scheduled to come out.
We have no idea what will happen in that final season and whether it will set the stage for the upcoming movie. And given that we know Chan will be involved in the film, is it a stretch to think he may take part in the final season of “Cobra Kai,” since showcasing key players from the movies has been a staple of the show? (More on that later.)
What is the movie’s plot?
“Cobra Kai” has masterfully turned the idea of heroes and villains on its head, with many people thinking Johnny is the good guy while Daniel is the bad one. It’s an idea that had gained traction in the decades since “The Karate Kid” came out.
Does that provide any clues into the movie’s plot? Will the next generation of kids who star in “Cobra Kai” be involved? And where does Chan fit into all of this? Right now, we simply don’t know.
Will the movie feature stars from the previous films?
“Cobra Kai” has made sure to bring back several key supporting characters from the original film franchise. It's part of the show's charm and DNA.
From Martin Kove’s villainous Kreese and Thomas Ian Griffith’s sadistic Terry Silver to Yuji Okumoto’s Chozen and Sean Kanan’s Mike Barnes, as well as love interests Tamlyn Tomita (Kumiko) and Robyn Lively (Jessica), the show has not skimped on revisiting characters fans love — and love to hate.
Even Elisabeth Shue came back in an emotional return during the third season that tied up loose ends. Could there be more juice squeezed from her appearance?
Will Pat Morita have a presence in it?
Morita, who earned a best supporting actor Academy Award nomination for the first “Karate Kid,” appeared in the two sequels, as well as “The Next Karate Kid,” before he died in 2005. He remains a vital part of the series’ universe and has been mentioned in “Cobra Kai.” While he can't star in the new movie, is it outlandish to think some of his wisdom will return in some capacity?
Will we see Hilary Swank or Jaden Smith?
Speaking of returning in some capacity, the notion that Swank could pop up may sound ridiculous, but odds are you hadn't thought about the idea of Macchio and Chan coming together as their “Karate Kid” characters in the same movie, but that's happening, so who knows anymore? Ditto for Jaden Smith, who played the title character in the 2010 remake.
“Spider-Man” made waves by bringing in three different Spider-Men in 2021's “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” so it’s not like there isn’t precedent. A new “Karate Kid” movie featuring multiple karate kids may seem far-fetched on the surface, but it really doesn’t sound too outrageous when you stop to think about it.
Will this be the end of 'The Karate Kid' universe?
Take a ride in a time machine with us: It's 1989 and you're peeling Jujubes out of your teeth while leaving your local cineplex after seeing “The Karate Kid Part III.” You feel pretty confident that the poorly received film (but not by everybody) will mark the final installment in the series and you'll be satisfied spending the rest of your days watching the first two "Karate Kid" movies on your VCR after you've taped them on cable. Boy, were you wrong.
You could've had the same sentiment after the 2010 remake. Or perhaps you thought it again when hearing “Cobra Kai” would be wrapping up. “The Karate Kid”? It's more like the karate cat because this property has many lives, so don't be surprised if there are more stories to be told.