Monday, September 7, 2020

Netflix Series Review: Cobra Kai

Netflix Series Review: Cobra Kai
Created by: Josh Heald. Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Based on The Karate Kid film series by Robert Mark Kamen

How did I stumble upon Cobra Kai? I think this question is no longer important. I watched seasons 1 and 2 of this Karate Kid reboot and I was glad I gave it try. It is a sweet drive down to memory lane and revisiting this well loved 80s classic made more sense to me now. There is no more Mr. Miyagi which the content creators and producers made use of exceptionally well to dwell on the grey areas that were never explored in the movies.

And so it begins 30 plus years after the fated loss of Johnny Lawrence to Daniel Larusso. Lawrence remained a loser while Larusso is basking on the fruits of fame, success and the life changing influence that Mr. Miyagi made in his life. Needless to say, they lead opposite lives now that they are about to go over the hill. And that is where everything begins, actually.

Lawrence is seeking redemption. Larusso is hanging on to the wisdom of Mr. Miyagi but fails miserably at it when his rival started to set up a dojo. In between their search for meaning and redemption are new Karate Kids to train, mentor and guide. And they make Cobra Kai more exciting, greyer and complicated for their elders - the ones who love the Karate Kid movies and the adults who play their parents and mentors in the series.

Cobra Kai is filled with 80s nostalgia, including a dream sequence that will remind Gen Xers like me of the MTV back then. Clear storytelling, outrageous clothes, teased hair and amazing music. Well loved characters from both sides of the fence made valuable appearances. Even a visit to Mr. Miyagi's resting place was well shot and appropriately placed an one episode in the first series. Miyagi's memory lives but no one can ever take his place. No, not even Daniel-san.

I enjoyed the episodes where there are shots of the beach, Miyagi's house and the training sessions which Larusso and Lawrence had with their students. The later amplifies the different philosophies of both dojos and the principles that each sensei teach their students. This was not further explored nor elaborated on in the movies but in Cobra Kai, I got to ponder more about the value systems we subscribe to and the beliefs that anchor us to lead a life that is not only good but purposeful.

Overall, Cobra Kai is a good watch for those who love the original materials and this generation of viewers who deal with so many grey issues in society. The season 2 finale left me unsettled though. I could not reconcile the artistic liberties that the film makers made with real life events, especially violence in a school. But, this is the America as we know it now where shootings happen in spaces we thought were sanctuaries and issues of racism remains in the collective consciousness despite the integration of different ethnicities in society at large.

Rating - 4/5

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