Cobra Kai: A revival of The Karate Kid legacy

Julia Miller and Keona Olguin

The Karate Kid’s fly-catching, chopstick-wielding sensei may be gone, but Netflix sensation Cobra Kai is sure to give viewers a healthy dose of nostalgia. 

Released on May 2, 2018, Cobra Kai has recently gained popularity amongst generations familiarized with the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, which boasted popular characters such as Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). 

Continuing the storyline of The Karate Kid 34 years later, returning adversaries Daniel and Johnny make a comeback in their old karate ways. The story follows Johnny after the original team of Cobra Kai disbanded and left him down-and-out. His rival, Daniel, however, has life wrapped around his finger, with a successful business and a perfect family. One day, after saving young Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) from a group of high school bullies, Johnny gains a new apprentice and decides to reinstate Cobra Kai. After Johnny rebuilds the old dojo, the rivals cross paths once again, creating the main conflict of the series.

Although the kicks and punches of the characters’ fights are initially the only moments that are action-packed, the plot grows more climactic as the series continues, building upon the tension and action between the characters. At moments the acting is a little choppy, but with the nostalgia that the original cast of The Karate Kid brings, the series is largely enjoyable. 

“I grew up watching The Karate Kid. [Watching Cobra Kai] felt like I was watching my childhood and the fact that it was the same cast added insight to the show,” Santa Fe senior Aliyah Castro said.

In addition to experiencing the overall nostalgia of Cobra Kai through its engaging characters and cast, viewers are engaged in the broader themes represented in the show. Although the series relates to older audiences by way of its nostalgic ’80s references, its modern and relevant messages allow it to relate to younger audiences. While combating ubiquitous themes like bullying and peer pressure, the show directly addresses the concerns younger generations face today. 

Santa Fe golf coach Mike Morton said, “The lessons in this new series can give teens hope and confidence in themselves… not to mention, a new way of dealing with life and confrontations.”

These lessons in Cobra Kai make the show as captivating as its predecessor. As the series progresses, viewers witness how the actions a person makes can create their character and how with time that character can grow; Johnny shows this by developing a new sense of morality when mentoring Miguel and other students. 

This heightens the audience’s involvement in the series and has allowed a devoted cohort of fans to emerge.

So even though Mr. Miyagi is gone—forever suspended in the fervor of the ’80s—The Karate Kid fans won’t want to miss the debut of Cobra Kai’s third season on January 8, 2021.