For so many reasons, I never felt that I was going to ever watch this series, let alone feel the need to review it, but did I ever eat my words when watching the first season of Cobra Kai. After the success of the original Karate Kid film, three lukewarm sequels were formed as a result of its success, and while they weren't ever known as abominations, I never needed anything more from this franchise. When the original film was reimagined and cast Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan in the lead roles, I really had no thoughts about ever seeing the original cast members again, but once again I've been proven wrong. Here's why this first season of Cobra Kai is better than anything that has come out since the original film that had any relevance to The Karate Kid.
Decades later, Daniel LaRusso now owns a car company and lives a very wealthy and happy life with his wife and two children. Since his life has become that of a fairytale ending, the show is focussing far more on that of Johnny Lawrence. Fired from countless jobs and barely getting by, Lawrence finds himself reopening his old dojo in order to face his past demons. Gaining a new trainee in Miguel, this character fits the persona of Larusso from the original film pretty well, but there are definitely differences. Everyone has their share of arcs to go through from the time this show starts, until the very last shot of this season, but the most interesting character for myself was Robby Keene, played by Tanner Buchanan.
This is a character that you start off hating, but then realize you may have to rethink your thoughts on the entire show after just a couple episodes. Yes, Ralph Macchio gives his all here and William Zabka impressed the hell out of me every time a comedic or dramatic moment would arise for his character, but I found myself emotionally invested in Robby the most. There are many subplots and callbacks that relate to past events, but they never feel forced. They are either done in a playful way or used as a tool to further this new story. I never once found myself annoyed when portions of the classic story were referenced.
This brings me to my experience of this show in general. From the music choices to the call back with the very recognizable score, this is a show with a lot of energy when it needs to be exciting, while also being a show that displays no fear in slowing down for emotional or tender moments between characters. There were multiple occasions when it felt clear that the writers had kept a close eye on character details when weaving classic storylines into this television series. What also surprised me was the fact that footage is used from the original film every now and then in order to fill in the gaps for those who may not have seen the original movie from the 80s.
In the end, Cobra Kai is a worthy successor to The Karate Kid legacy and I can't wait to see where they go next. I hope this show is renewed because many possibilities are left wide open at the end of this season. To put it bluntly, I never expected to love a show that I thought looked absolutely atrocious from its trailers, but I honestly can't recommend checking this out enough. Great nostalgia for people who grew up watching the original movies and also features great life lessons for young viewers who wish to start fresh with this show instead of catching up with previous installments. For everything this show sets out to accomplish, it does so in spades and always keeps you guessing. Yes, there are some very cheesy moments, but that's also what make the original movies such a joy to watch. Aside from cringing at a few lines of dialogue, I absolutely loved watching Cobra Kai. I can't wait for more.
Now streaming on YouTube Red, this show is worth a subscription to their service alone. Definitely check this one out.
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