In Cobra Kai, Netflix’s series sequel to the Karate Kid movie franchise, a middle-aged Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence find themselves martial-arts rivals again decades after their 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament bout. Here’s what we think of the third season of the show.
Stuck in the ’80s
In the last few years pop culture has been practically assaulted with nostalgia. Hollywood has rehashed classic movie franchises like Ghostbusters and Charlie’s Angels, not to mention Netflix’s penchant for the ’80s vibe shows like Stranger Things. In a decade obsessed with the past, Karate Kid spinoff series Cobra Kai is still unabashedly in love with the ’80s. From the music to the references and cameos, the show is packed to the brim with homages to its source material and the decade it was made in. Protagonist Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) drives a Dodge Challenger while blaring classic rock. It even has a musical cameo by hair metal icon Dee Snider. While the ’80s nostalgia and references are fun, the depiction of Johnny Lawrence as a man frozen in time, might be a little excessive. The running gag has the main character so clueless about the the internet and smartphones that you’d think he had been frozen in a block of ice since 1985.
It’s still got the moves
The fight choreography is as good as it was in the previous seasons, with the inclusion of a couple of unexpected team-ups like Daniel Russo and Johnny Lawrence, not to mention the rematches that have been decades in the making, such as Daniel vs Chozen.
A gut-punch of heart
This season the characters come across more fleshed out. The heavy hitters of the season are Demitri (Gianni Dacenzo) and Hawk (Jacob Bertrand), whose budding rivalry really starts to take shape. Demitri becomes an underdog to root for with plenty of nerd charm, while Hawk makes a great antagonist for him. Miguel displayed endearing awkwardness in previous seasons, but upon waking up from his coma, he displays anger and forgiveness for his sensei Johnny Lawrence. He is sidelined for the for the first few episodes, but returns as the emotional core of the new set of episodes.
WATCH OR NOT
Cobra Kai continues its streak with a third season that strikes balance between uplifting and cheesy. For better or worse, the show wears its love for the ’80s as well as the original Karate Kid movies on it’s sleeve. It’s unmissable for fans of the movies or those who want see some cool fights with a side of drama.
Cast: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler
Seasons: 3 (2018-2021)
Streaming on: Netflix