Having already crafted a rather awesome (if I do say so myself) idea of how to do a new Karate Kid movie with my nephew one night a few years back on our way home from seeing Ip Man 3, I came into Cobra Kai with some preconceived notions. Couple this with a lifelong love of the original trilogy, and I was invested in this new series from the moment it was announced.
This is the kind of content YouTube will need to continue to make if they want to elevate the Red service into something that rivals Netflix and Hulu. This is the type of show I would continue to pay $9.99 a month to see.
Cobra Kai revisits the lives of Johnny Lawrence and Danny LaRusso 30 years after the events in the original movie. As the series starts we see Johnny stuck in the rut he was in in the 80’s after losing the All Valley Karate Tournament, whereas Danny has made a decent life for himself. A series of events bring these two back into each other’s lives, and the series explores and evolves their relationship and back stories.
Johnny is one of those guys who peaked in high school. He is stuck in that era as the world has moved on well past him. Everything from the music he listens to, the movies he watches (dude loves him some Iron Eagle), his fashion and most noticeably his vocabulary. Johnny is NOT a PC character, yet, you still root for him as you see his unorthadox ways transform his new students when he reopens a Cobra Kai dojo.
Daniel on the other hand has led a good life, is happily married with two kids and runs a successful car dealership. He instilled the lessons he learned from his friendship with Mr. Miyagi into his life and his family. His daughter is growing up right, however, his young tween son is a self-entitled little jerk. Thankfully he is not in the series much. Daniel himself is not without fault either, as there are moments he lets his hang-ups prevent him from doing the right thing.
Both Johnny and Daniel have some severe PTSD when anything comes up that triggers their once rivalry. This could easily be hokey, but it actually works as a nice plot device that gives insight into the events of the original movie for those watching Cobra Kai without having seen those films (or have not seen them in awhile).
Cobra Kai shows the importance and effects of having a strong role model in your life. Where the original series showed the dichotomy between having the wrong and right mentors, the new series blurs the lines a bit and goes a bit deeper. The tables are flipped at the outset when Johnny ends up in the Miyagi role thanks to when he steps in as a kid is getting beat up by thugs from his school. There is a great little moment when introducing Johnny and Miguel where Miguel starts telling Johnny about the things wrong in his apartment setting it up like Johnny was the superintendent at the apartments (a la’ Mr. Miyagi). He immediately blows the kid off as he is not the super. Cobra Kai is filled with great little and big moments like this that play off of the expectations of the original series.
This series is everything it needs to be and more, exceeding my expectations. I am truly hyped for a second season and recommend everyone checks it out. There is so much more I want to say about Cobra Kai, but I like to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible. There’s a reason every 70’s, 80’s and 90’s property under the sun are getting new leases on life in reboots and sequels. Nostalgia is a strong motivator. When done right like Cobra Kai these new takes on old IPs rekindle the fires we had for them growing up and spark all new interest in the current generation.
Speaking of the power of nostalgia, check out the total geeks as we wax on and wax off about our love of the original Karate Kid movies in our 19XX series.