Cobra Kai is one of this year’s hidden gems. I will admit when I heard Cobra Kai was happening, I expected nothing to come of it. Cobra Kai is a continuation of the Karate Kid story where the two boys are now in their 50’s raising their own families. Shortly after it was released, I found myself getting messages from friends that it was something I needed to check out. When I settled in to watch it, I found I couldn’t stop watching it.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, we had a lot of movies that we gravitated to that dealt with the main character having to overcome a bully. The one thing audiences don’t tend to think about is what happens to the bully once he is defeated. After all, many of us were bullied growing up and still don’t want to run into our bullies as an adult. Yet Cobra Kai reminds us that the bully has a story too.
Johnny Lawrence (played by William Zabka) the original actor from The Karate Kid, hasn’t fared well in life. In fact, he is still living in the 80’s. This story follows him as he is coming to terms with his life and trying to make it better by reopening Cobra Kai, the studio that gave him the best years of his life. Johnny’s character is complex; while he thinks he is doing the right thing, that usually isn’t the case.
At New York Comic Con (NYCC), William Zabka was there to talk about the continuation of the Karate Kid story. When asked about this new side of Johnny, he said this was not how he had envisioned his character turning out. He had imagined Johnny being with his old friends and having a successful life. William Zabka talked about how Johnny chose this path, despite the fact that it is his Pandora’s box because it is the only thing he knows, it’s what he’s good at, and he truly believes that he is going to apply it differently from how he did before. However, this path isn’t about Daniel LaRusso but about Johnny getting his son back and finding a relationship with him.
The hero of Karate Kid is Daniel LaRusso (played by Ralph Macchio). Many of us probably dream of the hero going on to greatness and helping mankind. Not Daniel LaRusso (Danny). He is a car salesman with a wife and two kids. Ralph Macchio did say that he made sure that Danny wasn’t a sleazy car salesman. Audiences watch Danny struggle as the bully from his past comes into his adult life. The pain he carries could easily turn him into a bully if he didn’t keep it in check.
At NYCC, Ralph Macchio discussed the series, his character and the aspects of Cobra Kai that are important to him. He expressed how the writers have been able to bring in the younger generation with new characters, along with the embracing the nostalgia of the past film, the combination of which is making this new series successful. Ralph also expressed how he felt it was important that the influence of Miyagi still is woven throughout the storyline and that the plot wasn’t just about two guys who can’t get past their adolescent interactions.
So where does the series go from here? Writers Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald were at NYCC to assure fans they still have plenty of directions in which they want to take the story. The writers discussed how they have footage of unused dailies from the original films that will give them the ability to tie the original movies into the new stories, they did express because it is on actual film the dailies are hard to get and they don’t know what they will have until they get it. They will be taking the younger characters and building new dynamics with them, along keeping some of the parallel story that they have already built. The new stories will keep the Karate Kid DNA but also give the viewers new ideas of how Karate Kid could have been told. At the panel, the writers gave a sneak peek of the Miyagi Dojo and said the new series is set to release in the spring of 2019.