‘Cobra Kai’ is taking the ‘Karate Kid’ saga to new heights
Prior to its release in May of 2018, all martial arts movie lovers were eagerly waiting for the release of the highly anticipated comedy-drama television series based on the original 1984 movie, The Karate Kid. The launch of Cobra Kai on YouTube Red in 2018 and then two years later, its arrival on Netflix brought high viewership from not only those who had seen the Karate Kid films, but the general population looking for their next television show to binge.
The series brings together some of the original cast members of the award-winning 1984 film with a fresh, newer, younger cast who would, in the show, become the students of the two main characters from the original film, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka).
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The first season of Cobra Kai is primarily centered around Johnny’s life, 34 years after his loss to Daniel at the Under 18 All Valley Karate Championship. It is also concerned with Daniel and Johnny’s relationship and how their rivalry is now re-ignited.
The first few episodes of the series provide viewers with an insight into what life is like for Johnny and Daniel now that they are much older than they were in the 1984 movie. Johnny is very depressed and can’t figure a way to shake the past. As a result, he re-opens the ‘Cobra Kai’ dojo. This opens up the opportunity for the next generation of “karate kids” to learn martial arts. Meanwhile, Daniel has a wife and two kids, while owning a highly successful car dealership. His daughter, Sam (Mary Mouser) becomes a major part of the cast with a lot of the storyline running through her and the relationship she has with her father.
In the first episode, Johnny meets a teenage boy named Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduena) who is his neighbour, and in the second episode, he begins to coach and train him as his first karate pupil. Meanwhile, Daniel sees that the Cobra Kai dojo has re-opened and confronts Johnny in the dojo at the end of the episode. In the next few episodes, Johnny tries to recruit new members for the Cobra Kai dojo at Miguel’s high school. After Miguel gets beaten up, Johnny becomes more depressed and defaces one of Daniel’s billboards. Daniel finds out at the end of the fourth episode.
Cobra Kai gets more and more new members as the series goes on. Robby (Tanner Buchannan) starts to train at Miyagi-Do with Daniel to hurt his father further after picking up a job at Daniel’s car dealership. In the lead up to the All Valley Tournament, Johnny continues training his students, while Daniel does the same. The day of the tournament arrives and Miguel beats Robby in the final. As the first season draws to a close, John Kreese (Martin Kove) returns to the Cobra Kai dojo to congratulate Johnny for winning and for bringing Cobra Kai back.
The first season I believe is the best of the first three seasons. The director, Jon Hurwitz has put ‘Cobra Kai’ karate as the focus of the television series, where the focus of the original Karate Kid movie was on Daniel and Miyagi’s karate. He combines the old cast with the new cast really well to re-create the Karate Kid saga. He also alters the storyline so that the story is told from Johnny’s perspective rather than Daniel’s, which makes for a nice change, and viewers are given an insight into what it’s like from Johnny’s point of view rather than Daniel’s. However, in saying this, Daniel’s perspective is still portrayed in the film but there is more of a focus on Cobra Kai and Johnny Lawrence. Hurwitz does a really good job of making the TV series a more modern version of the 1984 film so that it fits in really well with today’s day and age.
The first season of the series sets the scene for later seasons, with Johnny and Daniel’s rivalry about to heat up even more so in the coming seasons. The show is very popular and significant for people of all ages and I highly recommend watching the series. The series is all out action with tons of karate scenes, however, also brings together comedy and drama through the characters in the TV series and their interactions with one another.