If i need to explain the subject title then you’ll just have to wing it and learn via context and observational extrapolation.
I was a Karate Kid child; i remember re-enacting Daniel-san’s kick in front of an entire classroom after i saw the film on TV over a holiday period (which makes me think it must have been the UK television premiere – maybe over a Christmas? (i’ll do a quick internet search, hang on)…so it came out in 1984, then probably 4/5 years later a TV release? So we’re talking maybe 88 or 89. Anyway. I remember loving the second one more, and being fascinated by the location filming, and then i remember hating the bit when Miyagi cries, myself affected by the film. And i remember the music.
The finale of the first film is a piece of 80s moviemaking that will last forever.
However, when i first heard about Cobra Kai i just didn’t really lap it up, despite it somehow managing to grab the original actors. Maybe i thought it would be a piss-take, a parody, and not worthy of my attention.
How wrong i was.
Cobra Kai is that gem in a trashpile, that diamond in the rough, that gadwall in the mallards. Its a sequel that is very, very much aware of its history, but with skilled filmmakers behind the camera, clever writers and performances that are so human it restores your faith in Hollywood.
Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is living on hard times. His defeat to Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) left him living a spiralling, tentative life of failures and mistakes and booze. LaRusso has created himself a good life, thriving and with a wonderful loving family.
Johnny finds himself rejuvenating the infamous Karate dojo Cobra Kai, and through his efforts we see the glorious rise of self-esteem in his students… but coincidences and unfortunate circumstances seem to entangle themselves that no ones lives are going to be normal again.
Its an incredibly human show. Things don’t go as planned, and the wonderful Bromeo and Juliet friendship betwix Lawrence and LaRusso is so well-constructed you find your own hands clenching to karate punch fists after every conversation.
The acting is so good it hurts. Zabka’s human performance is tingling, and Macchio’s warm fatherly attitude mixes sublimely with his tempered moods.
The kids are perfect; each one their own, carefully created performances, each one showing such well written and portrayed arcs of character development.
And the music. 80’s nostalgic synth tones and chinese pipe music, with Twisted Sister, Metallica and Rock and Roll classics playing perfect backdrop to numerous montages, Rocky style.
But its also so modern. Game of Thrones references in the script – even a doctor who reference (jodie whitaker is apparently bad-ass) – oh its just so good. And i’m only midway through season 3.
Humour; its tremendously funny. Facepalms, clever scripts, hilarious timing and one-liners… “hash brown team cobra kai! and send it to the internet!”
- brilliant teenage / YA actors
- brilliant original actors from the franchise
- knowing, loving passion for the originals but not relying on them for its brilliance
The above are my omega particles.
The best TV show this decade, i think. It actually pains me to watch it, because i feel that i’ll never be able to re-inact the way i felt the first time round.