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Cobra Kai

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Cobra Kai
Cobra Kai (TV Show).jpg
Cobra Kai never dies... and neither did this franchise!
Genre: Comedy-drama
Martial arts
Action comedy
Running Time: 22-40 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: May 2, 2018 – present
Network(s): YouTube Red (season 1-2)
Netflix (season 3 - Present )
Created by: Josh Heald
Jon Hurtwitz
Hayden Schlossberg
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Television
Starring: William Zabka
Ralph Macchio
Seasons: 5
Episodes: 50


Cobra Kai is a 2018 martial arts comedy-drama television series currently broadcast by Netflix. It's based on the original The Karate Kid films and continues the story after the events of the original trilogy. It was released on May 2, 2018 on YouTube Red. It was renewed for a second season, which premired on April 24, 2019. While the first two seasons were formerly available on YouTube Red, Netflix acquired the further production rights of the show. The first two seasons premired on Netflix on August 28, 2020 and the third season of the show premired on January 1, 2021. Prior to the Season 4 premire, which premired on December 31, 2021, the show was renewed for a fifth season. Since it's premire, the show has a high viewership on both YouTube Red and Netflix and has gained critical acclaim. According to market research company Parrot Analytics, the first season of Cobra Kai was the world's most in-demand streaming television show during May 2018. Parrot Analytics later reported that the second season of Cobra Kai was the world's most in-demand digital television show during April 2019 through May 2019. As of September 2020, the season 1 premiere has over 90 million views, and the season 2 premiere has over 86 million views. The first episode was No. 8 on YouTube's list of ten top-trending videos of 2018. It was also the most watched show on Netflix around late September 2020, attracting 50 million member households in its first four weeks.

Summary

Thirthy-four years after the events of The Karate Kid, Johnny Lawrence decides to revive his karate days by reopening the Cobra Kai dojo to train his young neighbour Miguel Diaz and his friends so they can learn to stand up for themselves and not let others bully them. However, this rekindles his old rivalry with Daniel LaRusso, who starts the Miyagi-Do dojo to counterattack the ruthless philosophies of Cobra Kai. However, when the teens start using karate to rise to power at school and Johnny's old sensei John Kreese returns, things will get complicated.

Why It Never Dies

  1. Great acting, especially from William Zabka and Ralph Macchio, who reprise their iconic roles as Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso.
  2. Many new and promising characters like Miguel Diaz, Samantha LaRusso, Tory Nichols, Amanda LaRusso, Aisha Robinson, Robby Keene, Chris, etc.
  3. It serves as an interesting and intriguing continuation of the original films by featuring Johnny Lawrence resurrecting the Cobra Kai karate dojo to teach the young Miguel Diaz and his friends to stand up against their bullies and improve their self-esteem, leading his old rival Daniel LaRusso to start the Miyagi-Do dojo to fight against Cobra Kai's philosophies. In the process, this switches Johnny's and Daniel's roles from the original film.
  4. Outstanding character development coming various characters and these examples include:
    • Miguel Diaz, one of the main characters who started out as weak and paranoid sooner and later became more of a confident person and fighter
    • Eli Moskowitz, aka Hawk, went from a normal, quiet kid who would let his emotions get to him and later turned to be aggressive but passionate
    • Demitri, who was originally sarcastic and egotistical, turned more into giving confidence and pushing harder into standing up and speaking for himself and others
  5. Many funny scenes.
  6. Well-written storylines.
  7. The fighting sequences are amazing.
  8. Many actors of the show are ex-Disney Channel and Nickelodeon child stars. Seeing them here perfectly showcases how they have transitioned into more adult roles.
    • To name a few, Peyton List and Jacob Bertrand do a very good job playing Tory Nichols and Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz.
  9. It expands upon the franchise's mythology and unravels previously unknown aspects from some characters which may change how you saw them. For example:
    • Johnny Lawrence used to be abused by his wealthy stepfather Sid Weinberg, whom his mother Laura married so he could have a better life. This, coupled with bullying from his classmates, prompted Johnny to join Cobra Kai and see John Kreese as a father figure. This in turn canonizes the backstory William Zabka himself conceived for Johnny while playing him in the first film.
    • John Kreese was once a weakling like Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence who used to be abused by other guys until he learned to stand up for himself. However, the loss of his girlfriend while he was fighting on Vietnam, coupled with the ruthlessness of his captain, led him to lose any sense of morality and mercy to become the ruthless and deranged man he is today.
    • The Cobra Kai dojo's name was conceived by Kreese because he fought for survival above a pit full of cobras during the Vietnam War.
  10. It has nice call-backs to the original films and provides a well-handed sense of nostalgia instead of doing it for the sake of fan service, like Johnny giving Miguel a skeleton custome for the Halloween party.
  11. It pays homage in a beautiful way to the late Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, often featuring him in flashback sequences and photographs, remarking the influence he had on the life of Daniel and his family.
  12. Some heartwarming and poignant moments, like when Kumiko and Daniel read Mr. Miyagi's last letter to Yukie before his passing, mentioning how much he liked feeling part of the LaRussos.
  13. Great plot twists, like how John Kreese reveals himself as still been alive at the end of season one.
  14. The return of many beloved characters in season 3-4, like Kumiko and Chozen Toguchi from the second film and Terry Silver from the third film. Chozen even gets a redemptive arc which showcases how much he changed following the second film.
    • Special mention goes to Ali Mills. After not appearing in season one and two, Ali finally makes a return in the last episodes of season three and the exact nature of her break-up with Daniel is fully explored.
    • Speaking of Terry Silver, after the events of The Karate Kid Part III, has since seeked therapy and had a good life, putting his evil karate ways to the side after his plan to get revenge on Daniel failed. When Kreese asks him to come back to Cobra Kai, he initially declines but upon having a PTSD trigger, he decides to come back. His personality from then on is similar to that in third film but this time, he grows to be even crazier and more corrupt than Kreese, going so far as to rigging the All Valley Tournament finals in favor of Cobra Kai (something even John Kreese would never do and is most likely unaware of). And the most shocking part of it all, he betrays Kreese and frames him for assault of ex-student Stingray.
      • If anything, Terry Silver is even crazier and more evil than the third film in one of the best ways possible.
  15. It pokes fun at some fan theories, especially the one which alleges that Daniel LaRusso was the real villain of the original film.
  16. It sends the very good moral that bullying should not be tolerated.

Bad Qualities

  1. Some of the show's storylines can feel like a rehash of some plot points of the original trilogy.
  2. While not terrible, Molé may be considered to be the weakest episode in the series.
  3. Some characters like Sid Weinberg, Kyler (Miguel Diaz's bully), David (John Kreese's bully), Samantha LaRusso (seasons 2-4), Tom Cole, Tory Nichols (season 3-4A), Robby Keene (season 3), Mitch, and Kenny Payne (season 5) are mean-spirited and/or unlikeable.
    • Special mention goes to Daniel's son Anthony. He's a useless and generic character who just appears to tease his parents or his sister Sam and never does anything productive. You could take him off the show, make Sam an only daughter and the show would still be the same.
      • Unfortunately, Anthony briefly got worse in Season 4 when he became an atrocious, manipulative bully who tortures Kenny and lies about it. Though he does get his comeuppance this time when Daniel finally breaks his tablet and scolds him in a matter Johnny would. He has since redeemed himself and became semi-likable in Season 5.
    • Kyler comes across as a spoiled rich brat but one-dimensional who bullies and taunts Miguel for being a weakling and a loser who hides his behavior a secret from Samantha. He does things like spilling a drink on Miguel, taunting and laughing at him at the school library, beating him up on Halloween night, and embarrassing Samantha in front of the school. After Miguel beats him in "Cobra Kai Never Dies" he comes across as a coward, making him a generic mean popular boy to some extent.
    • Speaking of which, Samantha was badly flanderized in Season 2 into an unlikable, manipulative jerk who rarely takes responsibility for her actions, often likes to play the victim, and can never let go of a grudge. Notable examples of this include accusing Tory of stealing wallets even though Tory never did and cheating on both Miguel and Robby (Miguel once and Robby twice) to remain a victim of the rivalries. It can even be implied that she is responsible for sparking her rivalry with Tory in the first place.
      • Samantha is at her absolute worst in Season 4 as her flanderization was sped up. She treats Tory like a punching bag, takes advantage of her anger issues, and becomes a controlling girlfriend towards Miguel.
      • While slightly improving in Season 4B, she fully redeems herself in Season 5.
    • Robby in the first 2 seasons had some character development where his actions changed from a delinquent to a responsible, hard-working kid with sympathy but in Season 3, he was flanderized as his old traits start to appear again and becomes more unlikable due to his past actions against Miguel and still refusing to talk to his father, who he wants to remain on good terms with him and instead decides to side with John Kreese, who will only worsen up Robby's influences (alongside Tory Nichols). Though this can arguably be considered good (or intentional) flanderization as Robby had largely been abandoned or mistreated by almost everyone he knows and as a result, cannot bring himself to trust anyone (not even Kreese to some extent). However, after witnessing Kenny's actions in Season 4 during the tournament, he redeemed himself and reconciled with his father and eventually with Miguel.
    • Demetri can also count. Despite being one of the good guys, he starts very snarky, pessimistic, and sarcastic to the point you can question whether he is also a bully from a certain point of view. Fortunately, he changed for the better in the third season.
    • Mitch, while being one of the butt monkeys in the show, is not only a terrible friend to Chris as he intends to fight him over not agreeing to his own opinions as well as his other friends, but also turns to the dark side quickly just to fit in with the others, and even he betrays his friends once again to rejoin Cobra Kai just because of the girls and for the smoothie bar.
    • Kenny, while being a bully victim in Season 4, was quickly flanderized after the tables have turned between him and Anthony where thus Kenny became the bully himself and started harassing Anthony for no reason (so far as he forced him to put himself in a toilet full of waste) similarly to how Kyler does with Miguel and his friends.
      • Though much like Robby, this was likely done on purpose for plot-related reasons.
    • David, John Kreese's bully, is also the source of Kreese's violent nature who desires no mercy and wants his future students to do that.
    • Tory Nichols suffered two flanderizations back-to-back. In Season 3, she became plain violent with no remorse whatsoever. While her backstory explains why she has a tough personality, this doesn't excuse her actions against hurting the Miyagi-do and Eagle-Fang students and tormenting and assaulting Samantha LaRusso (who again is no better). Regardless, Tory goes beyond her will to do anything to harm Samantha over her love-triangle relationships with Miguel and Robby. She partially influences Robby to turn on Samantha and defect to Cobra Kai (explained above) because that 'definitely will make things right. In Season 4A, she also became a punching bag for Sam, who at this point wants her life to be as miserable as it can be and takes advantage of her anger issues. Luckily, she redeems herself in Season 4B, becoming less aggressive, and starting seeking help for her issues which will improve her life.
  4. Some can feel that Hawk's redemption at the end of season three was forced, as he was seemingly forgiven for all his cruel actions so quickly.
  5. Stingray, whose real name is Raymond, is one of the Cobra Kai students who is an adult that behaves like a child, and not to mention he assaulted kids in one of the episodes to protect Hawk.
    • However, it was stated that he was arrested on a probation and under a restraining order not to be near minors
    • Fortunately, he finally redeemed himself in Season 5, becoming more mature and understanding how his actions can create consequences and chain reactions.
  6. The actors who play Aisha Robinson and Raymond AKA Stingray do not appear in Season 3.
    • This is understandable due to Aisha's actor, Nichole Brown, dealing with financial troubles, and Paul Walter Hauser, who plays Stingray, being on a tight schedule with different acting roles.
    • Luckily, both characters returned in Season 4, however, Aisha no longer appeared in the series.
  7. There are tons of unnecessary love triangles between multiple characters, making it more of a romantic drama than a martial arts show.
  8. While it sends a good moral that bullying is not tolerated, there are parts of the show where it sends negative messages that will antagonize karate with the example being mainly the two karate dojos showing no remorse for violence to one another.
  9. Excessive usage of product placements that include Apple products (ex. iPhone, iPad, MacBook), In-N-Out, Coca-Cola, certain vehicle brands (ex. Pontiac, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Dodge, and Mazda), Facebook, Tik Tok, Chili’s, Amazon Alexa, Olive Garden, White Castle, Oculus Quest 2, and many Sony devices including the Bravia TV sets, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita along with Tekken 6.
    • Speaking of the PS Vita, it felt outdated to reference the console since it was already about to be discontinued for its time being with the Nintendo Switch, another handheld console coming up with its release. (The Switch would also be featured in the show too.)
    • It also wouldn't have made sense to advertise the PlayStation 4 since not only it was an older model from the first generation, the console will likely soon be discontinued.

Reception

The show has been well-received by critics and fans of the franchise. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds a 100% rating with a 95% audience score rating, the second season holds a 89% rating with a 90% audience score rating and the third season likewise holds a 89% rating with a 90% audience score rating. Meanwhile, its IMDB score is 8.6/10.

Trivia

  • Before his passing in 2005, Pat Morita conceived a potential fifth Karate Kid film which would have had a dying Mr. Miyagi training Johnny Lawrence, who now works as a doctor, into his peaceful karate arts so Johnny can find balance on his life before Miyagi passes away and gets send to Okinawa so he can be buried there. The concept never got off the ground, but it seems that a part of it has been revived for the show.

Comments

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