Anyone who enjoys a good film would have at least heard of the Karate Kid. No, not that weird reboot with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan that had nothing to do with karate. It’s the film that inspired an entire generation of kids and teens in the 80s. Your classic underdog story told in a relatable way about good and evil with plenty of life lessons to boot. 34 years later, and an entirely new generation are presented with a sequel to this cinema icon and what you get is sure to impress anyone. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprise their iconic roles of Danny LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence to give us a complete overhaul in how we see these characters. This series took what was basically an internet meme and a running joke from How I Met Your Mother and turned the concept into a series whilst giving it a lot more depth.
In the first film it was pretty easy to identify that LaRusso was the protagonist and Lawrence the antagonist. This series shows that these characters have more than one side to them. It really blurs the lines between who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy with different shifts in power but also character. In some episodes you would relate to LaRusso’s character and disagree with Lawrence’s and other times, both were threading a thin line between good and bad. That’s what made this show such a spectacle; the fact that it handled the element of what makes a person human and implemented it so well into the characters. The relationship between the main characters is palatable; 34 years have done nothing to the intensity of this iconic rivalry. Another charming aspect of this show is how it handles nostalgia. The writers didn’t spoon-feed the audience with pure fan service, which is where most reboots fall short like the 2011 remake of Footloose.
The series also did a great job at basically rebranding Zabka’s iconic character and showing how that his character was not as two-dimensional as most would presume back in the 80s. The show deals with real issues like alcohol abuse, destructive behaviour and family issues – all themes that make it really grounded and relatable to the audience. The show created a sense of empathy for most of the characters that are in it. This is something that many big budget film characters lack which is a feat if anything. They also did a good job at completely flipping the role of Zabka’s character to what is essentially the Miyagi of this series. It’s interesting to see how a character as old fashioned as Johnny Lawrence interacts with the younger much more PC characters who become his students. It creates a juxtaposition which constructs a profound effect in many of the characters, especially with the relationships between both of the rival’s eventual students. Seeing both characters take on more paternal roles amidst all the chaotic hilarity just makes for a show full of laughs with a lot of heart.
Cobra Kai truly was a breakout hit and I am highly anticipating the follow up to this iconic rivalry next season. It’s a show that has some great elements of comedy whilst having so much depth in character. Go see it.