Cobra Kai is a ten episode tv series which touches back on the lives of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) over 30 years after we got to see them in ‘The Karate Kid’. It can be considered a comedy drama and has scored 9/10 on IMDB and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes which is quite an achievement.
The idea of focusing again on these characters years later is genius. Truth be told, as a child, the karate kid was one of my favorite movies growing up. This is not a sequel nor a reboot of the movie. It’s a continuation of a story that is worth telling and involves familiar characters who have changed over the years. It’s refreshing and smartly written and I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a slew of writers jumping on the band wagon and following suit with other franchises from the past.
The story focuses mainly on Johnny (The villain from the first film). His life hasn’t turned out the way he’d have liked and he seems down on his luck which makes the viewer feel sympathy for him. In stark contrast to that, Daniel (Hero from the first film) is a successful businessman and still famous is his hometown. With some clever writing, we instantly dislike our original hero and route for the villainous underdog. A great premise for any show.
A great premise can lead to a good sketch or short movie but can’t sustain a tv series. Luckily, again praise to the writers, nothing is black and white in Cobra Kai. We get to see lots of character growth from both Johnny & Danny but also from all supporting characters too. Good guys do bad things and bad guys do good things painting a more realistic picture for the viewers and more importantly, keeps you coming back for more. One or two character arcs felt a bit rushed (I won’t go in to spoilers) but mainly each character got enough love, care and attention. Watching Johnny in particular starting to believe in something is genuinely moving.
It’s very clear from the start that this series is a passion project for both Johnny & Daniel as they take their roles very seriously. Having not seen either of them on screen since the eighties it’s admirable to see them give moving performances in their roles. This is not a big budget, special effects driven series. This is built on a shoe-string budget and relies heavily on it’s characters to carry each scene. It works wonderfully. It feels small and intimate but never cheap.
End on a High
Again, I’m going to avoid spoilers so I can’t say much about the end unless I stay extremely vague. It was satisfying and bitter-sweet. Again, with clever writing (have I mentioned that before) it brought some characters to uncomfortable realizations and it’s unclear where they’ll go from there but it will definitely be exciting to see.
My only gripe with this series isn’t a gripe against it at all. Simply put, this needs to get seen by as many people as possible. YouTube Red just isn’t a popular enough platform for something this good. It has been green lit for a Season 2 which is brilliant as I’m dying to see what they do next. I only wish a bigger broadcaster had picked them up for season 2. This is as good as anything you’ll see on Netflix or Amazon and deserves as many eyes on it as possible