The first time I saw a trailer for this follow up to Karate Kid I thought it was a joke. They couldn’t seriously be making a show about these characters now 34 years in the future. It seemed like such a strange idea and my interest was minimal. I figured I would watch an episode and see if it was any good but I was sure it would be stupid and no good as many of these nostalgia projects are. I find myself in a place I never thought I would be now. Karate Kid is a movie I grew up on and loved. I wouldn’t call myself a massive fan of the franchise but I enjoyed it and watched it more than a handful of times. Enough that I know the main characters and remember the iconic moments but not enough to be aware of every detail. I was surprised at how much I remembered from the old film and realize now just how iconic it is.
I admit that I am beyond blown away by how this show turned out. I started it yesterday with the first two free episodes and quickly grabbed a YouTube premium trial so that I could finish it. At 10 episodes of roughly 30 minutes each it is not a long show making it even more worth the watch. It never relies on fancy special effects nor does it require a large budget other than enough to get the main characters to return for it. The story takes the audience on a journey that paints the original film in a much different light; one that is reminiscent of this video from YouTuber J. Matthew Turner.
It is clear from this first season that Johnny is an unstable immature adult who is trying to figure life out. Down on his luck and unsure how to proceed he helps a young man (Miguel) who is being bullied. Miguel then convinces Johnny to open a Karate Dojo and train him there. Thus begins the reawakening of Cobra Kai Karate. I won’t delve into spoilers here but the story causes Daniel and Johnny’s paths to intersect and start their rivalry all over again. Daniel, a now successful businessman, still sees Johnny as a bully and is clearly traumatized by the shares experiences between he and Johnny from back in high school. It is sad how much these memories still play in Daniel’s mind. I found this a tad unrealistic but I was lucky and didn’t experience bullying in my days so I can’t relate.
The characters in Cobra Kai are fantastic and demonstrate how to bring flawed individuals and make them love-able and hate able at the same time. Johnny is still a big jerk but ultimately he does care. The journey he goes through in this season shows a lot of growth as a man and brings him to a desire to improve his life. His tattered relationship with his teenage son Robby, lack of any friends or family that care for him or he for them paint a picture of a tortured man. Miguel played by Xolo Mariduena is the first to truly care for Johnny is what is clearly a long time and is the catalyst for change in the man. His outer shell is still extremely hard and unlikely to change but his patience and care for others greatly progress throughout the 10 episodes of the show.
If you listen to many who talk about this show they say that Daniel is the villain this time around. While I somewhat agree, Daniel isn’t all bad. He does a few things that are pretty messed up to Johnny but ultimately both of them are being jerks to each other and both need to grow up. The antics they take with one another are hilarious and demonstrate what holding a grudge can do to otherwise good people. Danny is a well respected businessman in the community. He came from a poor upbringing to now living in a large house and being a member of the country club. He is very wealthy as seen in several instances on the show. The intent of the creators was to show the characters in swapped roles. Johnny grew up with money and Daniel with nothing. Now, Johnny lives in a run down apartment and Daniel in a mansion. The dichotomy is massive and allows us to see the characters in a different light.
In about 5 hours, the entire first season can be watched and enjoyed. I cannot rave enough about this show and truly cannot think of anything wrong with it other than the immaturity of these grown men being a bit unbelievable. Then again, adults are stupid just like kids and tempers get the better of adults frequently. The acting is beautiful, music a wonderful mix of 80’s and modern and the story compelling beyond belief. Johnny is a gruff, rude jerk who you can’t help but root for and steals the show. If you are looking for something to watch, Cobra Kai should be high on the list. It’s fast and easy and it doesn’t hurt that it is TV-14 making it a decent show to watch with the family. There is language and some off color jokes but generally something I could easily recommend for a teenage and older audience. There are a slew of other great characters that I didn’t mention such as Sam and Robby but the true show stealers are Danny, Johnny and Miguel. The three of them are entertaining as can be to watch and worth every minute. Crunchers, do yourselves a favor and watch Cobra Kai immediately!
5 out of 5 Couch Cushions!!!