REVIEW: The Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai is exactly how you make a successful revival show
The show and all the characters in it have kept the sensei-student combination alive and have even revived the story to it's fullest potential with new faces
Cobra Kai is the name of a fictitious dojo that is synonymous with the antagonists of the 1984 classic karate film, The Karate Kid. If you haven't watched the film then please do because the 10-part series that is now on YouTube Red is more or less a sequel to the film. Now that the disclaimer is done, let's get started!
The show begins with Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka who reprised the role from the 80s film, as a dead beat handy man who can't seem to get a break in life. His home is a mess and he seems to have no motivation to change his ways and try to live a better life. On the other hand, there's Daniel LaRusso, aka The Karate Kid, who has found a series of success in life after his win at the All Valley Under-18 Karate Championship in 1984 against Lawrence. His car dealership business is doing well and he has a beautiful home and family to boot. Both of these men still have a big connection to what happened in the Karate Kid films that came before and they seem to have drifted down pre-determined paths based on how their lives were changed by the contest in 1984.
Lawrence starts trying to get his act together after he meets a high school boy who lives in the same apartment complex as him, Miguel Diaz. The boy introduces himself to Lawrence one morning but he is swiftly brushed off. We learn from pilot episode of the series that Diaz is being severely bullied in school by four other high school boys and needs help trying to face them or live with it his entire life. It is here that the opportunity is presented to Lawrence to gain a student in Diaz after he fights off the bullies one night in a supermarket parking lot.
The plot thickens when we find out that Diaz, LaRusso's daughter, Samantha, and the three bullies with their leader Kyler, all study in the same school. Samantha and Kyler hit it off in school and Diaz learns that he needs to be more confident to be able to win her affections.
The entire plot of the series is driven by the two old rivals and the kids that they take into their care to train and be the future karate champions. Lawrence learns later on in the series that his purpose with the newly-opened Cobra Kai dojo is to train defenceless children how to stand up to their bullies even though he was one of those bullies himself when he was their age. The lessons he learned from his sensei, John Kreese played by Martin Kove, is something that will not work in the present day which is more than 30 years after he was a student himself.
The character development in this show is outstanding with the final episode giving one of the biggest cliffhangers to be expected of a series that follows the cult karate film. The children in the series have put their all into their roles and the amount of nostalgia that the show generates, especially for all the people who have watched the older Karate Kid films (sorry Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith), is just a breath of fresh air in today's world.
The whole series is filmed with shots that remind you of the 80s and it's got the music to match. Keeping in mind the time this series is set in, the show has been very subtle with when and where in the episodes they show this style of camera work, particularly in the scenes that have LaRusso and Lawrence.
All in all, this show has equal parts comedy and action with a generous amount of drama from both the kids and adults thrown in there. It's a great watch and the 20-odd minute long episodes make it easy to binge in a few hours. When it comes to reviving the 80s, this show definitely hit the mark without it feeling like they were trying too hard to bring back something from the past.
My final verdict: Season 2 just can't come fast enough.