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greenhorg's avatar


This is probably my favorite series of the 2010s, despite my blanket distaste for nostalgic reboots. Part of the appeal is that it uses the flaws of the 1984 movie to its advantage. Even though 'The Karate Kid' was written as a simple morality tale about a working class transfer student defending himself against a rich bully, a popular Youtube video from 2015 made a comical (but persuasive!) case that our boy Daniel-san was actually always the one picking those fights with Johnny. I assume it's not coincidental then that Cobra Kai debuted on Youtube several years later, running with this revisionist take: presenting the adult Johnny as a sympathetic blue collar underdog, and Daniel as a frequently insufferable, rich asshole.

But the show does better than a simple role reversal, developing both of these characters (and many in the large ensemble cast) far more than the uni-dimensional portrayals in the original movies. The show frequently and deliberately upsets your instincts to pigeon hole and "pick sides" (although by the end of season 4 the formula is beginning to show signs of wear, as previous "bad guys" are cyclically redeemed and new "real" bad guys are introduced to fuel additional seasons).

The show is also a satisfying love note to the fun ridiculousness of 1980s popculture and its self-parodic brand of masculinity: from pro-wrestling to hard rock to... well, martial arts. In fact the largest hero-to-villain twist of the series is probably karate itself, as even "self-defensive" Miyagi fighting -- like guns and war and other dubious instruments of peace -- often just ends up leading to more violence.
5 months ago
Jace Lightner's avatar

Jace Lightner

This is great!!
1 year 9 months ago
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