Cobra Kai reminds us there is life after high school

Written by: Karen Benitez

TV, Features | Jul 17, 2018

Cobra Kai The Karate Kid YouTube Red

The 1984 film The Karate Kid was one of my defining moments in life. It taught me, if you've got a bully, you kick them in the face.

YouTube Red original series Cobra Kai follows through with the events of the first Karate Kid film. It kicks off with the climatic showdown between Daniel LaRusso - the protagonist of the first three films - and his tormentor throughout the film, Johnny Lawrence.

If you've seen the film, you know how this ends: A kick in the face.

Over 30 years later, Johnny is a man in his 50s, scraping by as a repairman, driving from one job to the next with his Pontiac Firebird. LaRusso himself, is now asuccessful auto dealer with multiple branches. 

It's the kind of ending setup you would expect from some '80s film. Back to the Future is a big example that first comes to mind, where bully Biff Tannen ends up working for the successful and confident George McFly. We don't spare further afterthoughts about it, than "Serves 'em right."

Cobra Kai wants us, for a minute, actually consider what happens to these characters after some major cataclysmic event happened in their lives. Ultimately, Cobra Kai is about two things: Middle-aged men in their 50s unable to move on from their high school lives and high schoolers too engorged living in the now.

High school is a delicate era. It's the time where we have all the free time in the world, where there is drama, where kids want to be involved in something - to be part of something. Cobra Kai doesn't explore that crap. It gives us the ass end of the kids that are getting it bad in school, the kids that are so uncool other kids can make fun of them. Cobra Kai empowers these kids and sends them a message. If you've got someone rubbing you off the wrong way, you break their nose.

Each episode of the Cobra Kai is only less than 30 minutes and yet there's a lot of things happening, jumping between scenes from character to character, without turning into a muddy mess. The dialogue is okay, sometimes they're sharp and witty, but it's "Strike first" and "No mercy" that are most memorable.

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that these kids who train under Johnny Lawrence turns out to be badass. It doesn't take a fortune teller to see where this is all going. My friend mentioned that the plot is predictable, and it is if you stop and think about it. But the ride itself is joyous, filled with humor and sympathetic situations for both sides of the story. Except the high school bullies.

The main storyline of Cobra Kai is the reignited rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. Lawrence is living like crap with an infinite set of problems with bad luck attached to him. He still has his old trophies during the matches he won in high school. It was the only good thing that happened to him in his entire life. So, he reopens Cobra Kai.

LaRusso, on the other hand, while got everything he wants, has been bullied and tormented by Lawrence - something LaRusso attributes to Cobra Kai, and not Lawrence himself. So, when he learns that Lawrence has reopened Cobra Kai, he tries to dismantle it.

The contrast between the point-of-views between the Lawrence/LaRusso and the kids is interesting. The kids are not interesting in the future and more focused on the trend, still unaware how life will be greeting them as a whole.

The series has a killer soundtrack with amazing '80s bands like Poison, Foreigner, and Reo Speedwagon, which should be a good thing for kids today watching the show - know all the good stuff.

You can watch the first episode of Cobra Kai on YouTube. The rest of the episodes you will need to be subscribed to YouTube Red - YouTube's Netflix wannabe subscription service - if they continue to pour out shows like Cobra Kai, it won't be too hard for them to rise up faster. However, a friend from PH has informed me that YT Red is not available in Philippines, but you can still watch each Cobra Kai episode for less than P100. As if.

Go watch Cobra Kai, it's a great series to startup any day.

About the author: Karen Benitez

Skater, musician, carpenter, gamer. Karen is interested in culture, science fiction, and Cthulhu. She participated in MMA bouts, got her ass kicked many times, and ended up with broken bones. Life is good.

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