When it comes to TV shows, I am always late to jump on the train. I prefer to watch sports, write for the blog or play video games in my spare time. I remember seeing ads drop for Cobra Kai premiering on YouTube a few years back. I was immediately interested. Of course, I was late to the party. I didn’t watch my first episode of Cobra Kai until 3 weeks ago. It took me less than two weeks to get through all three seasons. For me, that is record time.
Let me preface by saying that The Karate Kid is in my Top 10 favorite movies of all time. Part II, Part III and even the Hilary Swank reboot The Next Karate Kid complete a solid list of sequels. I enjoy all four installments.
The original movie is quintessential 80s. I am a complete mark for the 80s. I constantly think to myself that I was born in the wrong decade because of my love for the movies. 80s movies more so than any other decade captures the vibe through the music, scenes and clothing so well. I always feel like I missed out BAD.
There’s always some fucking mall with Pat Benetar playing in the background. I love every single thing about it. I will always be team John Hughes and team Brat Pack.
Although Ralph Macchio is not technically a member of the brat pack, he does fit the bill of typecasting to a certain degree. Typecasting was a cornerstone of the 80s. Instead of a specific type of character, Macchio made a household name for Daniel Larusso, spanning from 84-89. No disrespect to Macchio because he was great in The Outsiders, Beer League and My Cousin Vinny (I SHOT THE CLERK?……..WOAHHHH). But, he’s fucking Daniel Larusso.
I love the relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi (RIP Pat Morita). In terms of movie bromances, it has to be in any respectable Top 10 list. In each movie, we saw the duo overcome a slew of challenges. Obviously in the original, it was Johnny Lawrence (get to that in a minute), John Kreese and Cobra Kai. Part II, we see Miyagi’s past come back to get him as well as Daniel when they return to Okinawa. The rivalry between Miyagi and Sato transfers over to Daniel and Sato’s nephew Chozen. In Part III, Kreese gets his revenge with Bad Boy Mike Barnes and the former’s longtime friend Terry Silver.
Of course, the original is by popular opinion the GOAT of the series. The sequels are respectable though, especially Part II.
Of course, they attempted a remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. I watched it once and thought meh. That wasn’t a movie you should remake. When I first started seeing the ads for Cobra Kai on YouTube videos, I thought “this could be good.” Nostalgia alone could make this good. But, rekindling one of the 80s best rivalries, in which there is a clear divide. Fuck yes.
As we have grown into the internet age and thanks to a few references on the TV show How I Met Your Mother, there are Johnny Lawrence sympathizers like myself and Barney Stinson.
The show of course builds on those things. Daniel moving in on his girl to antagonizing them at the dance to screwing with them when they have a no retaliation order from John Kreese. Of course it all boils over in the end at the All Valley Karate Championship. Then Daniel wins with the illegal contact to the face ruining Johnny’s life goddamnit. That is water under the bridge of course. We now have to worry about John Kreese and assuming Terry Silver…yikes.
Before watching that show, I had three or four of my close friends tell me it was a must watch. I had my sisters on me to jump on the train. I finally listened. I texted them all the same thing.
“It took me seven episodes to realize this is going to be one of top 5 favorite shows ever.”
Of course I still had to get through two other seasons, but it would need to bomb in the most miserable way imaginable for my thoughts to change. It only got better. That led me to writing this. I wanted to share my takeaways on all the reasons I love this damn show.
The entire show is centered around Kreese’s creation. I own a Cobra Kai tank top that I bought maybe 5-6 years ago. If you go out on Halloween, chances are you will run into someone wearing a Cobra Kai GI. Perhaps more so than anything else from The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai has been the most iconic part of the movie in terms of sustainability. Why not capitalize on it? The show does by centering the entire show around it’s re-creation.
COBRA KAI FOR LIFE!
OR….maybe now Eagle Fang! I still can’t do anything but laugh. You tried, Johnny. You tried. I still will end up buying that shirt probably.
You can’t talk about Cobra Kai without talking about Kreese’s golden boy Johnny Lawrence. His character is beyond amazing in the series. From start to finish, he has been my favorite by far. That is no surprise considering he is easily one of my favorite 80s characters. Remember what I said about loving the 80s? He is still a walking cover boy for the 80s so huge win there. He’s also an asshole in the best imaginable. I could describe how great he is or I just can share 6 minutes of him insulting people.
Larusso keeping up with Miyagi Do karate is the most beautiful way to pay homage to Morita’s character Mr. Miyagi. Seeing him go through similar challenges wishing he had his closest friend there as a guide gives it a very real element with Miyagi and actor Pat Morita both resting in power. Quite frankly, Morita’s performance of Miyagi made one powerful larger than life character. It’s one the show constantly keeps us missing and wishing was still here. I love that.
No Lines Drawn on Hero or Villain
In the first few episodes, it seems like Johnny is going to the be the protagonist of the show with Daniel taking on more of an antagonist role.
In reality, neither of them are ever truly protagonist or antagonist in regards to their rivalry. Both teachers have flaws. Both characters have flaws. The show does a great job maintaining that balance to ensure neither sort of go too far on either side of the line with one another. I love that element to the show.
Now, they obviously will be protagonists going forward in their quest to destroy Kreese.
The Nods and Flashbacks to the Movies
In season one, I knew what was coming before it happened such as the skeleton costume and Golf and Stuff. Those were pillars of the original so seeing those back in the show obviously gave the ultimate dose of nostalgia.
I told a friend who hasn’t seen the movies in a long time that they don’t really need to be watched to understand what is going on. The show does a great job of showing the clips from the original movies to keep you up to speed if you’re unfamiliar.
The Debuts and Cameos
This show debuts characters better than any show I can think of. When you are talking about beloved characters, the debuts have to come packed with a punch no pun intended. Even though I had an idea of who was going to show up when, my jaw still hit the floor for most of the debuts.
In season 1, Johnny is sitting in his office and he hears the door thinking it’s Miguel. Think again sensei. It’s a shadowy figure admiring the giant cobra painted on the wall. We all knew who the fuck it was. He goes on a speech saying Johnny did what he knew he could always do, which was win. The figure emerges from the shadow, cigar blazing from his mouth and says the real story has just begun. That figure was John Kreese. Absolutely biblical way to debut the biggest asshole in the series. The camera cuts back to Johnny with the worst look of defeat.
Kumiko and Chozen
When Daniel returns to Okinawa to get back on track with his car dealership, the first person he finds is Kumiko looking elegant as can be dancing on stage. She is the same lovely character she was in Part II.
She eventually shares and reads a letter that Mr. Miyagi wrote regarding his best friend Danielson. For the record, I will never be able to watch that scene and not cry. Again, pure brilliance to keep the spirt of the original movies alive.
Kumiko re-introduces Daniel to Chozen, the same man who wanted to kill him. Chozen was one of the funniest parts of the series by far. We find out in the end of the episode that he was trolling Daniel the entire time, pretending to still hate him. He takes him up to the Miyago Do dojo where he teaches him a new karate technique and gives him one of the pages to take back home as a token of respect.
The last way she helped Daniel was introducing him once again to the girl he saved from the storm, who now works for the board he has to win over.
I don’t care that she is 60. Elisabeth Shue is still freaking gorgeous. Seriously, how did none of these people age? They could all still pass for 40-45.
In S3E9, it’s Christmas time and an older lady walks into a house talking about buying the kids some presents. If you knew the actress, you knew who was coming. The camera then pans to Ali sitting on her parents couch. My jaw hit the floor in excitement. She lights up the room with that beautiful smile.
She spends the day with Johnny and they clear the air on everything that happened with them. Then there is perhaps one of the most hilarious parts of the show where Ali makes fun of Johnny and Daniel’s stupid rivalry at dinner with those two and Daniel’s wife. I am not sure if Ali becomes a mainstay, but God, I hope so.
Original Cobra Kai Returns – Tommy Dies
Johnny disappears leaving things to Kreese temporarily to visit his old Cobra Kai buddies Bobby, Tommy and Jimmy. The only one missing was Dutch (fully expect an appearance in the next season), who shockingly is in prison (please know that is sarcasm). In the show, Tommy (played by Rob Garrison) is dying of cancer. So they have one last ride with the boys. They get on their bikes, hit some bars, get into a fight and camp out in the woods. After the legendary night, Tommy does not wake the next morning. The episode ends with him being zipped in a body bag. For the record, he shouted the iconic line GET HIM A BODYBAG!
What made this so sad watching was actor Rob Garrison passed away due to kidney and liver failure in 2019 at 59. After the episode, they have a memorial for Garrison and had the words Cobra Kai for Life.
RIP Rob aka Tommy #CobraKaiForLife
The New Characters
Of course the nostalgia is what brought me to Cobra Kai. It is a large part in keeping me watching. The show does have some great original characters though.
Robby is one of the most complex being the biological son of Johnny Lawrence, now standing with Kreese and Cobra Kai. I expect his character arc to end up being the best of anyone. He is easily one of my favorite characters whether I end up liking or hating him in season 4.
Miguel and Johnny are creating the similar student teacher bromance of Miyagi and Daniel. Miguel is also part two of the love triangle with Sam Larusso.
I think the show did a great job cultivating their three pillars with Sam, Miguel and Robby. Then you have the others like Hawk, Demetri (he’s hilarious), Aisha and Tory.
Cobra Kai for Life…or you’re a pussy.
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