I might be a bit late to hop on this band wagon, but oh well! I’m finally up to date on Cobra Kai, that YouTube exclusive series which recently turned into a Netflix Original. It’s a continuation of the beloved 80’s The Karate Kid movies and if it wasn’t for the resurgence it has been getting thanks to Netflix, I probably wouldn’t be talking about it today.
Surprisingly I saw the remake of the Karate Kid before seeing the original three movies when I was a young teenager. It’s been years since I watched the movies, but I do remember the original Karate Kid was the best as it’s the most simple and it’s a fun and easy Saturday night movie. Cobra Kai kind of recontextualises the old Karate Kid formula by having a bit of a role reversal with Daniel-Sun and the bully character from the first movie and making it so there is no clear good guy. When I heard this, I don’t know but it didn’t seem to grab me, maybe it’s because I’m so over nostalgic reboots of classic franchises or it’s because I’ve just started watching The Boys on Amazon Prime and that premise is kind of similar to Cobra Kai. Anyway in the end I did watch the first two seasons of Cobra Kai, so I can say it’s super overrated.
* Fun note some minor spoilers ahead…
I can’t tell you what my favourite season of this show is as they both kind of share the same problems, but for the season that gets the most right it would be Season 1. Johnny Lawrence, the main bully of the original Karate Kid, makes this show. We start off with Johnny and he’s a dead beat loser and has basically let one tournament defeat from his childhood completely crumple his whole adult life whilst his old rival, Daniel LaRusso, is living the high life. So from the get-go we’re on team Johnny. Johnny has the most going for him as he just works off every character he interacts with, he easily has the best character arc on the show and he’s also really funny. Johnny seems to be stuck in the 80’s macho bully mindset so he’s pretty much out of the loop when it comes to what’s modernly acceptable and what young people do, but since he doesn’t give a hoot about any of that it normally results in him insulting people, and it’s hilarious!
The plot for the season one is almost a rehash of the first movie. We meet Miguel, new kid on the block, likes the girl who is dating the bully, so he gets beaten up by him and his goons. Johnny trains him up so he can get the girl and go in the big tournament at the end of the season. I guess the big difference is the stuff in between like there are more supporting characters to keep track off, family drama and some stupid high school romances. You spend so much time learning about these characters when it comes to the big final showdown in the season finale, it can be kind of hard to decide who to root for and who will come off on top. Until that point most of the show is very predictable standard TV drama stuff, so it’s nice to have some change for the big epic showdown.
A fairly competent first season, nice and easy show to binge over a day or two. Nothing overly bad or stupid happens unless you count how it takes Miguel most of the season to master karate while the other kids on the show take two 20-30 minute episodes to completely master the art.
Season 2 is thankfully less predictable than the first as the story here is more of a ticking time bomb waiting for everything to go to hell in the finale. On the downside there was plenty of things I didn’t like this season, so maybe I’ve answered my own question when I didn’t know what my favourite season was. This season focuses way too much on the teens, I don’t care about any of them, they’re either really annoying or boring, they’re more tolerable when they’re around the older characters. Also this season needed more intersecting love triangles for some reason. You know love triangles don’t do anything for the show or characters other than to waste time and add drama for the sake of it. I never really thought much of Miguel, but a reason for that is he’s constantly being dragged down by these pointless plot devices, that the show calls love interests.
On the plus side is the adult characters and the reason why the show is good enough to keep me coming back for more. Daniel reconnecting with his past life and training some students was great. Bringing back the old Cobra Kai master, to have a mini rivalry with Johnny was a nice way to remind us how far he’s come since the now 30+ year old movie. The season finale is my favourite episode of the series with the ridiculously entertaining hallway fight with all the different karate students and it’s got a really good cliffhanger that made “stubborn, not impressed by anything” me excited enough to want to know what season 3 has to offer.
Overall I guess Cobra Kai is a well made show and I’ll keep watching, but I wouldn’t say it’s great by any means. I think people were expecting it to be just another Hollywood money grabbing reboot of a childhood favourite but then it turned out it wasn’t so it got more praise than it probably deserves. That’s just my two cents on Cobra Kai, if you like it then explain why to me in the comments. I’m open to a discussion especially for The Boys, looking forward to covering that when Season 2 is complete. This is the Blog Complainer, signing out!