I spent the last few days of summer vacation binging all three seasons of the “Karate Kid” spinoff series “Cobra Kai.” After watching the three mainline movies in a short span earlier in the summer, and loving them, I was hesitant about watching a modern take on such a classic series. Thankfully, I turned out to be wrong. The show is just as good as some of the movies and works great in this format. I can’t recall a boring episode, or an episode that didn’t develop on the characters, both new and old.
If you haven’t watched the show but plan on doing so, don’t keep reading in order to avoid spoilers. The new characters are great. In some parts of the show, it could be argued that the new characters like Miguel, Robby and Sam take precedence over-familiar favorites like Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. The main character and his rival take on starkly different roles than the ones they’re remembered as from the first movie, and this is for the better. Daniel kept developing and maturing after the third movie, whereas Johnny, in his own words, partied away decades of his life and missed out on important events in his son Robby’s childhood.
Both find solace in a return to karate though, as Johnny restarts the dojo he grew up in and Daniel eventually part of what makes the show so fun is that the viewer can’t really tell who the main character is and who the rival is. Also, the way the third season ended shows that the true rival is neither Daniel nor Johnny, but Johnny’s former sensei John Kreese, who has his own backstory explained in a collection of flashbacks.
There are great callbacks to all three movies and cameos from some of the characters that starred in those movies. Some of the themes and lessons from the films are also taught in the show, particularly Mr. Miyagi’s old adages now being communicated by Daniel, and new lessons are being taught by Johnny that he learned during his time at Cobra Kai. Another great part of the show is watching Johnny develop beyond the “No Mercy” approach that Cobra Kai is known for. At the same time Johnny is learning these things, Daniel is learning things from his rival from the second movie, Chozen, that Mr. Miyagi didn’t teach him.
I’d recommend this show to anyone who enjoyed the first movie, but I’d also recommend watching movies two and three before diving into the show in order to better understand the flashbacks and cameos. I really enjoyed “Cobra Kai” and I’m looking forward to future seasons developing even more beyond the original films.
Ryan Meyer is a junior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or