Cobra Kai Season 1 Review:
All throughout the 1980’s audiences were blessed with a wealth silver screen gems that have aged incredibly well and secured their spots in modern pop-culture. In a time that brought the works of John Hughes, John Carpenter, Ridley Scott, and so many more, comes one of the most iconic trilogies in history. The Karati Kid Series. The Karati Kid is about as iconic as it gets. Everyone remembers the crane kick and “sweep the leg”, and if you don’t then you’re missing out.
Flash forward 34 years.
YouTube Red presents “Cobra Kai”. Set 34 years after the iconic battle between Daniel LaRusso(Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence(William Zabka) at the All-Valley Karati Tournament, the series opens with the Ace Degenerate himself, whom after what can only be described as three and a half decades of poor decisions, decides to reopen the long retired Cobra Kai Karati Dojo as a means of personal and professional redemption as he trains the next generation of, let’s call them underdogs, to stand up for themselves and perhaps encourages them to bully the bullies a bit. The series is packed to the brim with nostalgia, with notable mentions, and an amazing concept that “flips the script”.
William Zabka reprises his role as “Johnny Lawrence”, the original films antagonist, and true winner of the All-Valley Tournament(We’re not getting into that), and he does a pristine job at immediately connecting with younger audiences while also blending in the nostalgia of the original flick. This Johnny is a broken man, haunted by the past, and disgusted by the bullies of today and their lack of honor.
Ralph Macchio also returned to reprise his role as “Daniel LaRusso”, and to keep it to the point, LaRusso ended up essentially exactly as you would have expected his character to. Successful, great family, and a bit of a douche. All in all, Macchio did a fantastic job and it’s great to have him stepping into the Miyagi role with a subtle approach.”You’re alright, LaRusso”.
Xolo Mariduena, as “Miguel Diaz”, is an extremely welcome addition to the series as the co-star and as Johnny’s prize pupil. This kid has tremendous connect-ability with the audience. As the classic underdog we watch him develop and mold the character into his own throughout the season and he does a bang up job of making the audience love to hate him or hate to love him, depending on perspective. Great job, kid!
Tanner Buchanan and Mary Mouser also co-star as” Robby Keene(Johnny’s son)” and “Samatha LaRusso(Daniel’s daughter)”, and both did a fine job for what it’s worth. The characters struggled with depth, both of them. With respect, those two characters had the least amount of dynamic growth, even with Robby stepping into the new “Karati Kid” role it just felt forced and often utilized as comedic relief. If it wasn’t for Buchanan’s “Rider Strong like qualities” he would have had very little to work with. Unfortunately both roles could have been played by just about any youngster fitting the descriptions, it’s not their fault, they were rushed through development. Great job otherwise..
Jacob Bertrand, aka “Eli”, aka “Lip”, aka “Hawk”, is arguably the most progressed character in the series. Watching Bertrand take such a meek and distorted character and completely transform him into one of the most aggressive and ruthless competitors the series as whole has ever seen was nothing short of awesome. He truly became the complete representation of what Cobra Kai stands for. Excellent job, and thank you.
In summary, this series hits the nail on the head in terms of describing what a follow-up/sequel should be. T o be reminded of the great memories of the past and to be able to connect with the modern transition is no easy accomplishment, yet “Cobra Kai” surpasses that ability and truly raises the bar. It makes you feel for the weak, makes you want them to fight back, and oddly enough makes you support their descent into the darkness.
Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy.
Thanks for reading,
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