A trailer for Cobra Kai, a new web series that will serve as a sequel to The Karate Kid movie franchise was revealed on YouTube this week. The new series features Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles as longtime rivals Daniel and Johnny. Check out the trailer for yourself:
Before we look at the new series, let’s go over the original movie franchise. Needless to say, there will be spoilers for a thirty-three year old movie. As many of our older readers can confirm, the year 1984 brought us a lot of awesome entertainment franchises that are still recognizable today. Ghostbusters, The Transformers, Gremlins, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Terminator.. I could overload our nostalgia feels by reminiscing abour how “wicked” that “radical” year was for 80s kids. (Yes, we really did talk like that.) The Karate Kid was another film from 1984 and while the movie did contribute to pop culture – namely through the lesson of “Wax on, wax off” and an insanely awesome Joe Esposito song – it didn’t withstand the test of time as well as other franchises from the same year. Or did it? The concept is going to be revived with Cobra Kai, a web series that serves as a sequel to the movies.
The 1984 movie is about Daniel, a young teen played by a then mid-20s Ralph Macchio who moves to California with his mother. Daniel becomes attracted to Ali, a girl at his new high school played by then early-20s Elizabeth Shue. There is a problem for the young lovebirds though. Ali’s ex-boyfriend is Johnny, another high school student played by a then twenty-something William Zabka. Johnny studies karate at the Cobra Kai dojo which emphasizes that mercy is for the weak. After getting his ass kicked in spectacular fashion, Daniel advances his own karate studies under Mr. Miyagi, played by the beloved Pat Morita. Daniel and Johnny face off at the big karate tournament. Remember that their rivalry was sparked by a girl we will never see again after this film.
It’s a good movie, owing largely to the relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi. That said, the series seemed mostly dead after a fourth movie starring Hillary Swank was released in the 90s and a somewhat mediocre remake in 2010. Hell, I thought the series was dead. You can imagine my surprise when Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube entered into a bidding war over the rights to a new Karate Kid series. When the dust had settled, YouTube emerged as the victor and the new series was quickly announced.
Cobra Kai is set thirty years after the fateful martial arts tournament when Daniel delivered a decisive blow to Johnny and became the new champion. Johnny is now down on his luck and wishes to give his life some direction. He decides to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo. At the same time, Daniel has enjoyed the luxuries of success but is struggling to find meaning with his life. He also decides to open a karate school. The news reignites the long rivalry between Johnny and Daniel. The new series is said to contain a mix of comedy, heart and fight scenes worthy of the original movie.
The premise itself is actually pretty good. Revenge and redemption often make for terrific stories and Johnny’s character can certainly use some development. That said, this particular rivalry began over a girl from their high school days. A girl we never saw again after the first movie. Isn’t thirty years long enough to let that grudge go? Johnny himself ultimately insisted on presenting the tournament trophy to Daniel, a clear sign that his respect had been earned.
I am not entirely down on the concept of this series. Maybe they can play it so Johnny sees that moment when he lost the tournament as when his life began to go downhill. Daniel could represent the failures in Johnny’s life and beating him now could help Johnny to move on. At the same time, perhaps Daniel needs this conflict to give his own life something to focus on.
I could accept all of that but the series will consist of ten 30-minute episodes which also have to be packed with that comedy, heart and fight scenes we were promised. It doesn’t seem that there will be much time for intense character development.
Hopefully I am wrong. I do plan to check out the series once it is released. Will you be watching Cobra Kai? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.