Developed By: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg Starring: William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni Decenzo
Certificate: 12A Running Time: 22-36 Minutes per Episode, 10 Episodes
As I'm sure you don't need me to tell you, there have been a lot of reboots and belated sequels to old classic films and TV shows in recent years. Some have worked, others have been disasters, so when Cobra Kai was announced I suspect "Here we go again!" was the reaction of most people who cared enough to have one. It is of course based on the Karate Kid film series of the 80's, primarily the original movie which arrived a mind-crushingly vast 35 years ago, and that was a bit of a worry. It is a precious film to many who grew up with it, after all. One of my friends counts it as his favourite film of all-time, for example. Even more concerningly, the new show would be centred around the two leads from the original movie - Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka as his enemy and rival, Johnny Lawrence.
That was the big news for most regarding this show actually. Any dillhole could do a modern retelling of the story, or a totally different story 'inspired' by the earlier films, but to base this new show around the same characters as the beloved original film, with the same actors portraying them? That immediately raises interest levels, but also makes the project a considerably more difficult one.
|Johnny tries to get rid of his neighbout, Miguel...|
At first he has just the one student - Miguel Diaz (Maridueña), the kid he saved from bullies, who also happens to be his neighbour. Miguel takes to his studies well, adopting Cobra Kai's newly reinstated mantra (Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy!) in the process, and after demonstrating his abilities at school, Sensei Lawrence soon finds himself with a number of eager new (though totally unskilled) students.
|The first confrontation for many years...|
Now we get to see things from the supposed bully's perspective, and things perhaps weren't/aren't as one-sided as you might previously have thought. It really is a superb way to approach this show too, putting a fresh spin on a story and rivalry that will, for most viewers, be very familiar. In addition to the two main stars, a few of the other characters from the films return such as Randee Heller as Daniel's mother, and there are too many film references to count, both verbal and visual.
|Daniel's diminutive daughter, Sam...|
Those who are here are pretty good too, all things considered. Besides the two main returning stars, the most prominent characters are Amanda and Sam, Daniel's wife and daughter respectively, Miguel and Hawk (Bertrand), Johnny's two best students, and Robbie (Buchanan) as his estranged son who - you guessed it (minor spoiler alert!) - trains under Daniel, ending up as Cobra Kai's main rival.
Having watched the films numerous times over the years, it's hard for me to say if younger viewers, or indeed older viewers who never watched them, will enjoy Cobra Kai, but I don't see why not. The story is good, the characters and relationships are interesting, it's perfectly paced at around 30 mins per episode, and the production values are fine for a low-budget show, including the inevitable fight scenes which are well-filmed, but that 80's vibe definitely adds a lot too.
|Hawk who goes from total nerd to total badass...|
Remakes and reboots are often feared - justifiably in many cases - but Cobra Kai is pretty much a perfect example of how it should be done. I was just as prepared to dislike it as anyone, but it has turned out to be such a welcome surprise and probably my favourite new TV show of the last few years. More please!
RKS Score: 9/10