Netflix’s Karate Kid spin off series was a big hit in 2020, and now they’re back with a third season of nostalgic goodness.
The series follows on from the iconic 80s coming-of-age films, catching up with arch rivals Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence some 34 years later. We re-join the pair as they approach middle age, Daniel with a cringeworthy karate themed garage, and Johnny job hopping and struggling to control an unruly son – a fairly standard story of school bully turned serial underachiever.
The element of nostalgia sits right at the centre of the reboot – the original rivalry is reignited, and only Cobra Kai karate school can settle the score. With this, there’s no doubt that the show will appeal to fans of the original movies, and the three seasons available will definitely scratch the itch for nostalgic comfort. However, we’re not quite convinced this will draw in newbies who aren’t already fans of the Karate Kid series. If you know the characters already, it’s a fun and silly watch, but if you don’t, well, it’s just silly.
Upon its release on Netflix, Cobra Kai did what it couldn’t on YouTube, and went right to number one spot, showing that people have clearly got room for another easy and wistful watch. In The Telegraph, Ed Power called the first season “silly, self-aware and deeply watchable,” and praised it’s portrayal of how “times have changed and that in the grown-up world there are problems that can’t be solved by a punch to the solar plexus or a sneaky scissor kick.”
If only adulthood were that simple. In fact, it seems that this realistic depiction of adult life, far removed from the optimistic dreaming of youth, is what makes the show so enjoyable. Power went on to say that Cobra Kai “is explicit that nobody from the 1984 movie went on to live a fairytale life. If anything, it is just as eager to critique the yearning for youth that manifests, like aching limbs or excess nostril hair, as we reach a certain age.”
And this honesty has continued into the show’s third season according to The New York Times’ Noel Murray, who says it “picks up the story where it left off, rocketing ahead to the moments of maximum emotion and tension, without losing any of the wry self-awareness that has made this series so endearing.”
First shown January 2016. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.