Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.

Photo by Leslie Jones on Unsplash

I have reached the age where nostalgia is very enjoyable. Going back in time to relive parts of my younger years is always a serotonin/dopamine fest for my brain. And so it was when I stumbled across Cobra Kai on Netflix.

I loved the original Karate Kid movie with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. It came out in 1984 just a few years after I graduated high school and it was a quintessential root for the underdog coming of age movie for the eighties. There were good guys and bad guys and the lines of demarcation were clearly drawn. The good guy underdog wins in the end and learns about life in the process. A feel good movie for the ages.

I was hesitant when I saw Cobra Kai on the Netflix show guide, but I thought I will watch a couple of episodes just for the nostalgia of it and if it’s terrible I will not have lost much in the process. Little did I know that it would be an all consuming rabbit hole that I could not escape until I finished both seasons in a weekend.

The show is formulaic to the extreme. It isn’t Oscar worthy writing. The show relies heavily on call backs to the original movie complete with clips inserted throughout the episodes. The great Pat Morita is showcased quite often providing Daniel LaRusso with ongoing lessons of life. But the nostalgia brain chemistry dump is delicious.

Daniel is all grown up now with a wife and two kids. His mom is still alive and is in a couple of episodes as well. We also have the evil Johnny Lawrence of Cobra Kai who is divorced with a son he doesn’t have a relationship with and is an alcoholic to boot. Daniel’s daughter has been taught karate and Johnny’s son is learning from Daniel. While Johnny is teaching a down on his luck underdog (much like Daniel used to be) Karate the Cobra Kai way.

While Ralph Macchio is still very good in the role of Daniel, his evolution has not been that great. He is basically still the good guy whose life worked out really well and he still tries to live by the principles taught by Mr. Miyagi.

Johnny on the other hand played by the amazingly talented William Zabka is on a meteoric evolutionary path through the first two seasons. And he plays out all the emotional twists and turns magnificently. The guy you hated now becomes the guy you understand better, empathize with, and yes, root for.

In fact, I would say Johnny’s story is the most compelling so far of the two seasons and I cannot wait to see what happens to him in season 3.

The show overall though is nostalgia crack. I could not stop watching it. Yes, some things are just a bit too corny and yes some are overly formulaic, but the characters are interesting, the acting is solidly good or in Zabka’s case outstanding, and the nostalgia is worth every hour I spent glued to my television.

If you haven’t seen Cobra Kai on Netflix yet, check it out, especially if you are a Karate Kid fan and an eighties nostalgia crackhead like me.

“Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better.” ~ Mr. Miyagi

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