Cobra Kai (Season 1) 2018

“If I'm extra hard on you, it's because you have the ability to be better than me”“If I'm extra hard on you, it's because you have the ability to be better than me”

“If I’m extra hard on you, it’s because you have the ability to be better than me”

Cobra Kai never dies! In a world where reboots, reimagining’s and refreshers, it was only a matter of time before one of the most popular franchises from the 80’s would make its return. We are a society that thrives on nostalgic feelings while being reintroduced to universes that we love. The Karate Kid is not exempt from this list. This time the point of view is from the other side, giving us a different perspective from the quote unquote bad guys that haunted Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) his entire adolescence.

Cobra Kai is a hidden gem that not too many people knew about. The reason being it lived on YouTube Red which no one subscribed to, me included. Taking place 34 years after the fateful crane kick that won LaRusso the All Valley tourney, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is near if not at rock bottom in his life. Working a dead-end job as a contractor, rarely sober, and going nowhere in life when a bunch of high schoolers pick on a kid at the wrong place and time. Getting his car hit and having the driver run doesn’t help either. Add on the fact that wherever Johnny goes, he sees billboards or commercials of his arch nemesis around town promoting his auto group. 

The kid Johnny stands up for Miguel (Xolo Mariduena) begs to be taught karate, but Johnny is reluctant to help what he sees as a nerd and loser who can’t defend himself. And thus, Cobra Kai rises from the ashes from the former disgrace it suffered. Is Cobra Kai a nostalgia ride from the start of episode one to the season finale? Yes! Is it an issue or does it take away from the rebranding of the franchise? Not in the slightest. 

“When negative feelings overwhelm you, look for the good within yourself”

The theme of bullying is prominant throughout the franchise as a whole and how Cobra Kai tackles this issue is handled well by using it as a tool to teach. Johnny uses bullying to fuel his students by tapping into their anger while Daniel preaches the defensive strategy. by any means bullying is not ok regardless if it’s cyber or in person. Cobra Kai’s strength is in its lessons that karate can teach its characters.

Diving back into these characters lives three decades later is an interesting spin on the universe. Instead of focusing on LaRusso, the focus is on Johnny’s redemption story. He attempts to get back to his former glory, but he has no self-control or will power whatsoever. Every time he looks to make a positive change in his life, he manages to screw it all up. Take his alcoholism as an example, several times Johnny throws away all his beer only to buy a case hours later. The show does a fantastic job of spinning this disease with flashbacks to his childhood to see how and why Johnny is the way he is. 

We are finally able to sympathize with him – he’s portrayed with at least some humanity and humility. Flashing back to the past give us more insight to these characters that we weren’t able to get in a feature length film. That’s the beauty of streaming and bring shows to a service. The universe is explored more in depth that gives a better understanding to how we get to this point in time. But now, it’s time for a new generation to appreciate this universe while the original generation who grew up with this universe gets reintroduced to the characters they love. 

“There’s nothing dirty about winning, Sensei. You taught me that. Don’t worry; I got this. No mercy.”

Even though this is a new generation of Karate, the ideologies haven’t changed. Neither has Johnny nor Daniel. Both play a similar role like they did in the films but in some cases, Daniel is portrayed as the antagonist in this first season. Johnny is the one teaching the ones that can’t defend themselves but at the same time his methods are a bit extreme. Johnny is a parallel image of his sensei. Nobody questions these methods either believing that this is how you become a badass; you fight dirty and always on the offensive, strike first. 

At some point, we’ve all seen ourselves as Miguel. He’s incredibly relatable and the true embodiment of an underdog. But his attitude shifts as his lessons move forward. His arc is strange. You root for him but he’s just a sponge of the out of date tactics of the real Cobra Kai dojo. The real protagonist is Johnny’s son – Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan). Talk about an underdog story. All he ever wanted was a father but it’s a vicious cycle as Johnny went through a similar plight when he was younger. 

Robby reminds me of Sean Hunter from Boy Meets World. He has a bad boy mentality but with a little adult and fatherly guidance from LaRusso, he becomes the lovable hero you can’t help but to root for and cheer on. He embodies the same phoenix spirit from Daniel as he defies everything his father stands for. 

Where Cobra Kai is at its strongest is when it doesn’t rely on nostalgia. Instead, the character development and relationships is what gives this franchise a breath of fresh air. Each character is handled with care and they’re nurtured to have the strength to handle most of the shows weight instead of constantly relying on Johnny or Daniel to carry the load.

Overall, Cobra Kai season one is a great reintroduction to a franchise we all know so well whether we’ve seen the movies or not. It’s a nostalgia filled ride, but the new characters give the franchise a facelift with brand new rivalries. The acting is decent but it’s the different perspectives and points of view that make this series worth the watch. If I were to rate the first season of Cobra Kai, I’d rate it a 5 out of 5.

Cobra Kai season one premiered in 2018 and can be streamed on Netflix. The Mandalorian season one has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. Cobra Kai was created for TV by Josh Heald, John Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg and stars William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Tanner Buchanan, Xolo Mariduena, Mary Mouser & Jacob Bertrand.

So, tell me guys, have you seen Cobra Kai season one and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

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*I do not own these photos used in this article; all rights reserved to the copyright holder*

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