Starring – Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Xolo Mariduena
The Plot – Set thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, the series focuses on Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) reopening the Cobra Kai dojo, which causes his rivalry with Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) to be reignited.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, some minor adult language, and scenes of drug and alcohol abuse by teens.
– I watched ‘Cobra Kai’ in two sits, totaling nearly five hours of television. This isn’t an easy thing to attain, but screenwriters Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and company easily immerse us back into the San Fernando Valley, picking up over thirty years later by answering every burning question about our favorite characters, both in-and-out, of this show along the way. Binge-worthy television at its finest.
– For one of Youtube’s first real ventures into television, the production quality here offers enough to be appreciative of without it feeling like a Funny or Die sketch. The editing is crisp for the most part, the soundtrack offers a wide range of hair metal favorites, and the bright, obstructing Cobra Kai title screen offers a whimsical surge of 80’s nostalgia that makes it impossible not to feel energetic.
– This is first-and-foremost a character piece between two characters who have taken different roads since that one fateful day. For Johnny, it’s very much a road to redemption from a life of regret, but for Daniel it’s showing the negatives to success that prove too much of a good thing can sour the experience. This and much else illustrates that shade of grey between heroes and villains that prove in the real world the majority is defined somewhere in the middle
– A complete cast ensemble that is in it for the long haul. What I mean by this is some shows will leave a character or two out for an episode, but this talented cast sticks around for all ten episodes, bringing to light two exceptional performances that steal the show. One of course is Zabka who feels like he has been waiting for another opportunity for decades. As Johnny, it’s refreshing that his personality still hasn’t changed, despite that lighter side of humanity just dying to get out. The big story here though, comes from Xolo Mariduena for his unlimited depth as Miguel, Cobra Kai’s most prestigious student. The chemistry between he and Zabka transitions smoothly from student/teacher to a kind of father/son relationship, and Xolo’s timely character arc made for the most intriguing of subplots for me in the entirety of the series.
– Surprisingly impactful fight sequences that frequent without overstaying their welcome. Because this is an action-first series, it would be easy for these moments to intrude on the story, but thankfully the action is well spread and choreographed with such believability that is far beyond the silly Karate Kid story that people expect from this offering.
– In addition to those fight scenes, the dialogue offers the best of modern day sitcom writing to instill a comic prowess that keeps consistent giggles coming. The first thing you will fall in love with in these characters is their dry-witted demeanor, and for the entirety of the ten episodes, ‘Cobra Kai’ is never too grown to ever keep itself from laughing at the true irony and ridiculousness of the situation.
– My favorite aspect of this season without question is how certain character arc’s don’t turn out the way you think they would from obvious telegraphic supplanting. For two characters in particular, this strategy pays off immensely, taking them on character transformations that feel like they come from a galaxy far away (Hint Hint) and remind you how far you’ve come with these people for five measly hours.
– This show has no choice but to come back for a second season, and a lot of that reason is in the two outstanding stingers that happen in episode ten that shake the foundation of this show to dust. It’s clear that the writers have a lot of faith in where this story can expand, saving up their biggest bombshell for the closing moments that leave you yearning for more of the Cobra Kai teachings.
– For much of the flashback sequences, we see scenes from the original film. A few times early on didn’t bother me, but the producers feel like they have zero faith in their audience, and choose to use this perk of reminder to the point that I was screaming “I GET IT!!!!”
– There’s almost a bit too much reliance upon the original films, especially the deeper you go into the second half of this season. Beyond what I mentioned above, the very structure of the set-ups are almost completely identical to what happened in the first movie. I view this as completely unnecessary because the show thrives the most when it’s creating its own thing and not catering to cringe-worthy fan service. The characters and plots are entertaining enough, and I’d like to see the second season strike rich with its own independence.