The Karate Kid remake, starring Jackie Chan as Mr. Han and Jaden Smith as Dre Parker, was released in 2010. While the martial arts movie follows a similar plot to the original film, there were some minor changes. For instance, the film takes place in Beijing, instead of the San Fernando Valley, and Mr. Han specializes in kung fu, as opposed to karate. In addition, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who was the protagonist in the original film, turns 18 midway through the movie, whereas Dre is a preteen.
Ralph Macchio Had a Concern About Jaden Smith in the ‘Karate Kid’ Remake
According to Access Hollywood, Ralph Macchio had a concern about Smith — who was just 11 when the movie premiered — playing the lead role. The publication noted that while speaking to MTV News in 2009, he explained that he was unsure how the movie would handle a plot that involves romance with such a young actor. As fans of the martial arts franchise are aware, the romance between Daniel and Johnny Lawrence’s (William “Billy” Zabka) ex-girlfriend Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue) is an essential part of the original film, as it causes a long-standing rivalry between the two martial arts students.
“I don’t know where the romantic story-arc goes [with Jaden] at that age,” stated Macchio.
During the interview, he did compliment Smith’s acting abilities.
“The kid’s got chops,” asserted the actor.
While Macchio had his doubts, Dre Parker does have a love interest similar to Ali, named Meiying in the 2010 film. However, their relationship is mostly platonic.
Macchio also spoke about the Karate Kid reboot during a 2011 interview on the Covino & Rich Show. He explained that he was pleased with the film.
“I think that they did a good job of reimagining that story in contemporary times. It is very much the same exact story, very different movie. I will say this though the remake that it did well, only enhanced the legacy of the pop culture of what the original was to the point where that movie is on — the original is on — all the time. Every generation, you know, revisits it,” said the My Cousin Vinny star.
Macchio’s Co-Star William Zabka Also Shared His Opinion About the Remake
Macchio’s Karate Kid and Cobra Kai co-star William “Billy” Zabka also shared his opinion regarding the reboot. While speaking to USA Today Sports in 2014, the actor implied that he had mixed feelings about the film.
“When you find out they’re remaking a movie you were in, that’s shocking on every level. ‘I’m old enough to remake a movie I was in?’ It was fun in China and it was different. I wasn’t against it, but I certainly wasn’t for it,” said Zabka.
He also noted that he interacted with Jaden’s father, Will Smith, who co-produced the remake at the movie’s premiere.
“It was fun because I was backstage at the afterparty and Will introduced us to Jaden and he said ‘I just want you to know we weren’t doing anything disrespectful, it’s an homage to the Karate Kid.’ I said, ‘I get it, man, I’m actually doing the same thing with the Fresh Prince of [Bel-Air],’” quipped the actor.
To see more of Macchio and Zabka, be sure to watch Cobra Kai, available on Netflix.