“Cobra Kai”: the model for ​kickstarting a dead franchise


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It was interesting to transition from watching ​The Karate Kid​ to ​Cobra Kai​. The former has many serene training sequences placed in front of a very tranquil background — like a beautiful sunset. 

Then there is Cobra Kai, a hard cut to reality where our first shot is of Danny LaRusso’s long defeated enemy, Johnny Lawrence, lazily slapping his alarm clock. 

The extreme shift in tone is a large reason why I enjoyed Cobra Kai. It’s fairy tailtale versus reality—a complete shift in perspective from The Karate Kid, which is an all-time classic. Unlike with many remakes or overdue sequels we see today, the people who made Cobra Kai have something that their contemporaries lack: an actual idea.

The extreme shift in tone is a large reason why I enjoyed Cobra Kai. It’s fairy tailtale versus reality — a complete shift in perspective of The Karate Kid, which is an all-time classic. 

Unlike with many remakes or overdue sequels we see today, the people who made Cobra Kai have something that their contemporaries lack: an actual idea. 

Not just a rehash of a story we’ve already heard, not just a remake of the same property with a different cast and not just a project that wants people to pay for their nostalgia. It is for this reason why the show enjoys the critical acclaim that other sequels and remakes don’t receive.

For those who are not aware, Cobra Kai takes place thirty years after the events of the original Karate Kid. Johnny — the main antagonist in The Karate Kid — never made much of himself after the events of the first film. 

His dojo — called Cobra Kai — died and he went on to be lonely, with a job he hates and a multitude of family issues. Danny on the other hand — who defeated Johnny all those years ago — went on to become accomplished, wealthy and be the father of a loving family. 

Johnny has grown jealous of Danny over the years and it all comes to a head when Johnny decides that he’s had enough. With the motivation of his first student Miguel, Johnny reopens Cobra Kai, reigniting the thirty-year-old rivalry between him and Danny.

Both of the actors from The Karate Kid — William Zabka as ​Johnny​ and Ralph Macchio as ​Danny​ — reprise their roles playing the same characters.

Initially, I had trouble adjusting to their performances but eventually, I realized that both actors were still very fit for their roles. I found the development of both characters to be very interesting. 

Johnny is well suited to be an anti-hero—I constantly found myself cheering him on. I found Danny generally less engaging although he still had plenty of great moments. 

On the subject of performances, it’s important to bring up all of the younger actors. I thought Xolo ​Maridueña as Miguel was great at adapting his character based on whatever changes the script called for. 

Some of the other performances by the young actors ranged from good to bad — some of the bad I can’t blame entirely on the actor, but rather, on the dialogue. 

A theme of the show is its hit-and-miss dialogue — some lines and interactions being entertaining to witness while others were cringeworthy. 

One real gripe I have with the show is the constant insertion of pop-culture references — this problem most encapsulated by the character of Demetri.

Honestly, that character is probably my single least favorite part of the show. They give the character an arc where he essentially overcomes his fears, but his character is so annoying that when watching I’m usually rooting for him to fail.

Aside from that, I found the story to be relatively simple but still well done. Many of the outcomes were predictable but that didn’t really take away from my engagement. 

I preferred the story of the first season but the second season was still pretty good, especially with the finale. I don’t think I really understood how much I cared about the characters until that episode.

The show is often really funny, has some effective poignant moments and is all shot very competently. There were some props and costumes I really liked as well — the Cobra Kai custom car as a special mention. 

As it is a show about karate, there are plenty of fight scenes — the majority of which are exciting and fun to watch. 

The show also asks many questions about morality and ethics and the way it impacts the characters is really entertaining. 

After finishing an episode I was always left wanting more. The episodes have a short enough run time so that you can take a break from watching and then pick it back up very easily.

Overall, Cobra Kai isn’t some deep philosophical masterpiece but it isn’t meant to be. It’s a fun show about family, nostalgia and kicking ass. Honestly, I could do with a show like this every once in a while. With something as well made as Cobra Kai, watching it should be a no brainer.

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