Did William Zabka Have an Issue With the Karate Kid Remake?

William Zabka

Getty William Zabka talks on a panel during the 2019 San Diego Comic Con.

The Karate Kid reboot premiered in 2010. The martial arts film, which took place in Beijing, has a similar plotline to the original movie. One of the main differences is that Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) instructs Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) to learn kung fu, whereas, in the 1984 film, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is taught karate by his sensei Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita). 


William Zabka Commented on the Remake in a 2014 Interview

William Zabka

Getty William Zabka strikes a pose at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

In a 2014 interview with USA Today Sports, William “Billy” Zabka, who portrays Johnny Lawrence in the original Karate Kid film franchise and the series Cobra Kai, commented on the reboot. He suggested that he was surprised when he learned about the 2010 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,” explained the actor. 

Zabka then revealed he attended the film’s premiere, where he had a humorous interaction with Will Smith, who was one of the film’s co-producers. He told the publication: 

I went to the premiere of that, which I went because Sony called and all the guys were there. 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].’

While Zabka appeared to be joking about making a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot, he does share a connection to Smith. Currently, both actors are two of Cobra Kai‘s executive producers.


Ralph Macchio Has Also Talked About the Remake

Ralph Macchio Gray Blazer

Getty Ralph Macchio is photographed at ‘The IMDb Show’ in 2019.

Zabka is not the only Cobra Kai cast member who has given his opinion on The Karate Kid remake. In 2011 the “Karate Kid” himself, Ralph Macchio discussed the film during an interview on the Covino & Rich Show. He commented on the fact that the movie focused on kung fu, but still had the original film’s title. 

“It is a better business move calling it the brand name,” said the actor. 

Macchio then proceeded to compliment the film. 

“I think they did a good job of reimagining that story in contemporary times. It was very much — it was 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,” explained the father-of-two. 

He confided, however, that he felt the original film was timeless. 

“It still stands up. I mean the wardrobe and the hair its the ’80s and ’80s is retro and popular now but that’s part of the charm of the movie. The movie had a great deal of heart and soul and magic and that you can’t just recreate,” said Macchio.

While speaking to The Guardian in 2020, the 59-year-old shared similar sentiments and brought up the reboot’s title.

“It enhanced the legacy of the original. Also, there’s no such thing as karate in China, so it should have been called The Kung Fu Kid.”

READ NEXT: Why Hawk Has a Scar on His Face in Cobra Kai


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