But does Cobra Kai carry on the Karate Kid’s legacy?
WARNING SPOILERS contained in this article! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
I love reliving the movies of my youth and The Karate Kid was up there. Just a couple of months ago, I was wondering who Danny LaRusso grew up to be. Maybe I was so curious because we are the same age and probably confronting the same issues. I wondered “What would Daniel Do?” in this situation. Then I heard that YouTube Red is doing a series on just that. I just binged watched the show ten episode Cobra Kai I loved it.
Karate Kid for the Youtube Generation
Akira Kurosawa directed a movie called Rashomon, which was all about telling a story trough each characters viewpoint and how that change of prospective altered the narrative. Cobra Kai employs the same device.
Anybody who has seen the YouTube video or Barney’s monologue in How I Met Your Mother about how Johnny is actually the wronged hero of The Karate Kid will relate to this. Here, we meet a fifty year old Johnny Lawrence. He has given up Karate, is a functioning alcoholic, works as a handyman and has a teenage son he is estranged from. He is one miserable SOB in a way we all hope the bullies of our youth end up.
Then one night he is forced to use his forgotten Karate to rescue a young man who is getting beaten atop his sweet ride. After he gets out of jail, the young man approaches him about teaching him Karate. Johnny is so down on his luck, he agrees to become his sensei, reopens the Cobra Kai Dojo and begins his path to redemption.
Catching up with Daniel-San
Then we catch up with fifty year old Danny LaRusso. He has a beautiful wife and daughter, a chubby, video game playing son he has nothing in common with. Daniel runs a successful car dealership that trades on his notoriety as a former Karate champion.
Mr. Miyagi has passed on a number of years ago and Daniel-San no longer even practices Karate. There is a sadness to him, because he has nobody he can pass his Miyagi Do Karate on to. In short, middle aged Daniel seems to have lost his center. But it seems that fates have put Daniel and Johnny on a collision course yet again.
Like Father Like Son
Their paths begin to cross when it turns out one of the bullies Johnny fought is dating Daniel’s daughter. Then she is in a car that totals Johnny’s 80’s Camaro in a hit and run while texting.
When Johnny’s car is then towed to Daniel’s dealership, their reunion sets off an escalating series of confrontations. Later in the show, Johnny’s estranged son takes a job at Daniel’s dealership to piss his father off and arrange a heist, but is taken under Danny’s wing as a sort of surrogate son and becomes Daniel’s Karate student. Of course it comes out that he is actually Johnny’s son at the worst possible moment.
In the meantime, Johnny is transforming into the worst Karate instructor since Danny McBride in The Foot Fist Way, as he teaches all the misfits and outsiders at the local high school who are all being bullied. Eventually, Johnny’s students are infected by the Cobra Kai virus as the show flips the script and the losers we were rooting for, become the bullies. Eventually, Johnny and Daniel square through their students at – where else – The All Valley Karate Tournament.
Actually Pretty Relevant
The show tackles all sorts of real world themes. A man who has hit rock bottom. Another who has lost his center. A son who hates you and another you can’t relate to. Do you ever really forget the effects of being bullied and how is it different from what our generation went trough. Are you truly happy even when you have all the trappings of success. Can you overcome a bad upbringing? And the lesson that you are a better person with martial arts in your life then not.
It turns out that there was one final Karate technique that Mr. Miyagi attempted to pass on to Daniel to which there is no defense. Does anybody master it? The final scene of the show is right up there with the one in Rogue One. The second season of Cobra Kai is practically writing itself. So take this trip down memory lane. Then when it’s over, go sign up for some Karate lessons. Cobra Kai or Miyagi Do Karate- CHOOSE WISELY!!!
This author wishes to maintain his secret identity goes by the name of his favorite comic book hero Iron Fist. When he’s not collecting comics from his childhood, watching action movies or raising his three kids, he works a a police officer, trains Muay Thai, Jeet Kune Do, Kali and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Needless to say, he takes poor martial arts or sloppy gun handling skills personally. And he lives and trains in Chicago.
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