SPOILER ALERT! There might be a few spoilers in this brief review for those who haven’t seen the new series Cobra Kai, based on the original 1984 Karate Kid movie now showing on YouTube Red. If you haven’t seen episodes one or two, then I wouldn’t read this article, until you do.
Cobra Kai (2018) Thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. (Show Description from Rotten Tomatoes)
All ten episodes of season one are on YouTube Red.
Let me just cut to the chase, “ Cobra Kai was awesome!”
Yes, between the trailers and the first free premiere episodes, there was a bit of apprehension on my part. The thoughts in the distant portions of my mind were that maybe I’ve seen all the best parts in the teasers and trailers, and that there would be a boring back story while forcing nostalgia with clips of the original movie and a new, younger generation of characters introduced, just to build up to an ultimate fight sequence in the season finale. The demise of many reboots.
I am happy to say that the fleeting pre-assessment in the back of my mind was totally wrong.
I’m serious, the same vibes that I had when I saw the original movie in 1984, was there in 2018 when I watched Cobra Kai.
I watched episodes one and two on Saturday, May 5, 2018.
(It’s not a reboot, but a continuing story of what took place in the original film.)
Episode one focuses on Johnny Lawrence and his life over thirty years after the events of the Valley Karate Tournament. A down and out handyman, things didn’t turn out so rosy for him. The turning point for Johnny was outside a nearby convenience store, when he meets Miguel, who is being harassed by a group of bullies from his high school right next to his car. Johnny intervenes pushing him down a new path in his life.. Redemption?
There are a few other circumstances that inadvertently brings both Lawrence and LaRusso’s worlds closer together. This feels like a negative to Johnny, rekindling the rivalry between them. This pushes Johnny to make a life decision, re-open Cobra Kai.
In episode two we see Daniel LaRusso, who now leading a successful life with a family of his own and is almost care free, until his world is shaken after seeing that a Cobra Kai dojo has been resurrected in the same 1984 location. Johnny continues to train Miguel. He runs into a few obstacles as launches the dojo, including a verbal confrontation with Daniel.
Well, watching the first two episodes, I had to finish the series. I signed up for the YouTube Red for that very reason. At first, I was going to savor the episodes and watch a few at a time, but I found myself binge watching the entire season with a bowl of popcorn in my office.
My thoughts… Season one has a fun, smartly nostalgic, powerful story while introducing a new generation of characters in a meaningful and natural progression. Nothing seems forced upon the audience to convince you that this is the continuing story of the original movie. Cobra Kai’s pacing is well done.
Is it perfect? No… But neither was the original movie.
Episodes one and two premiered May 2, for free on YouTube, and they are offering one month free trail on Red, you can binge watch the entire season or savor each episode over the next four weeks or so for free.