By David Villafranca
Almost four decades after The Karate Kid, Cobra Kai takes up that story that caused a furor in the 1980s, with a great and very nostalgic series with what are now its adult protagonists, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, defend as a natural heir of the original films.
“The themes of The Karate Kid have not gone away: the guidance of a mentor, the ‘bullying’ (child abuse), parents and children, single parents, overcome obstacles and win in the end,” said to EFE Ralph Macchio, who as a teenager conquered the world in the skin of the intrepid Daniel LaRusso of The Karate Kid (1984).
“It seems to me that all that is going on in Cobra Kai,” he added.
The dark threat of Cobra Kai, the endless rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and karate as personal liberation are once again coming together in Cobra Kai” whose third season will land on Netflix on January 1st.
Very few were betting on the success of this series when it was launched on YouTube Premium in 2018.
But beyond the memories it brings back to the children who grew up with The Karate Kid (and with the unforgettable and wise Mr. Miyagi immortalized by Pat Morita), Cobra Kai has managed to update its history with melancholic winks to the past but also with a lot of irony, contemporary twists and creative audacity in its new plots.
“Yes, our hair was bigger in the 1980s and our clothes were dumb, but that’s also a cool thing now, don’t ever throw away your stuff! You never know when they’re going to come back,” joked Macchio.
The series made clear its intentions in the first season with a clever change of roles.
Johnny, the rich, arrogant kid from the rich neighborhood in the original saga, is now a half-ruined man and a single father surviving as best he can with low-paying jobs.
In front of him, Daniel is now a successful guy far from the hardships of his childhood: he owns a chain of car dealerships and lives in a splendid house with his family.
Decades after the legendary tournament in which Daniel defeated Johnny using his dirty tricks, both of them cross again their steps now as young karate sensei, with many accounts of the past to settle and also with some family and sentimental troubles in between.
But the third season starts with a curious novelty for the fans: the obligation for Daniel and Johnny to collaborate to recover their lives and save their families and friends.
“It’s the first time that Johnny and Daniel have a common need,” conceded Zabka.
“And that need is to help fix the mess they created together. It’s an honest request when Daniel says, ‘Let’s do this together. But they’re very different and that’s the fun of it,” he added.
Faces of the Future
After the success of the first two seasons, Netflix bought back the series so that the new episodes of Cobra Kai, and all the previous ones, are now part of its catalog.
Without revealing some details that will delight the fans, it can be said that the third season includes many references to the second film of the saga, the very Japanese The Karate Kid Part II (1986).
“For me, this new season is at another level in all aspects, and the story expands more,” said Zabka.
In any case, Cobra Kai has also served to make new actors like the Latino Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan or Peyton List become the new and teenage references of television karate, something that was seen in a spectacular and masterful fight in the school with which it closed in style the previous season.
Thus, Macchio said that going from apprentice in The Karate Kid to master in Cobra Kai has been one of his “favorite things” in this production for the small screen.
“They’re an attentive audience. They really want to learn and it’s a responsibility for me because they listen to me. And I love that,” he said.
“I find this really rewarding. And none of them take it for granted. I’m very proud that they feel like they’re the chosen ones. They want to respect the legacy of the original film and it’s really wonderful to see that in this generation,” he concluded.