Although movie theaters are now open to the public, most people are still uncomfortable being indoors to watch a movie. So binge-watching is still a necessary thing.
A few weeks back I traveled back to the 1980s and watched the first season of Cobra Kai, the further adventures of Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid - now thirty years older and the owner of a very successful car dealership. The original film starred Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita as martial arts doyen 'Mr. Miyagi', and William Zabka as Daniel's karate nemesis, Johnny Lawrence. The best thing about Cobra Kai is that it does not take itself too seriously. They are dramatic moments of course, but the series treats these characters as real people whose lives have been irrevocably changed by the local karate contest 30 years ago.
Daniel LaRusso is now the owner of several car dealerships and winning the All Valley Karate Tournament 30 years ago has defined his life. His television commercials feature him "karate chopping prices"; while with each car purchase he gives away bonsai plants. Old fans visit the car dealership to get their picture taken with their karate hero in his now-infamous 'crane kick' pose. In Cobra Kai, life imitates art and art imitates life.
But not all is well with Johnny Lawrence, who was on the loser-end of LaRusso's 'crane kick'. Johnny is divorced, estranged from his ex-wife and young son, and the best his life has to offer is cheap beer and low-paying physical labor jobs. In many ways, he is still living in the 1980s with his lifestyle choices. Cobra Kai switches back-and-forth between the perspectives of LaRusso and Lawrence, as we learn much more about the characters than we did in the two-dimensional original story. In the present, there are many shades of gray to their lives.
They both still have their struggles. LaRusso must deal with the success his car dealerships bring him and the constant competition from other auto dealerships. Lawrence has decided to re-establish the Cobra Kai dojo, where 'strike first' and 'show no mercy' are the karate order of the day. This is the conflict around which the entertaining series is built in season one. When Lawrence takes a group of nerdy-loser high school students under his wing to teach Cobra Kai karate values, LaRusso responds by reestablishing a 'Mr. Miyagi' type-dojo and getting a smaller group of teens to 'wax on and wax off' his fleet of old cars.
The series ventures into new territory by getting viewers to empathize with the Lawrence character: It turns out that he was not a 'spoiled rich' blonde kid. As a teen, he was treated with disrespect by his rich step-dad (played by veteran actor Ed Asner), and pushed into the 'no mercy' form of karate by ex-Marine and Cobra Kai founder John Kreese, Lawrence grows into a very likable character himself as he begins to learn more about life as he teaches karate to his own teen students.
Cobra Kai effectively uses flashbacks from "The Karate Kid" the movie to make the series engaging and remind us of why we got a kick out of the original film. However, the series does not take itself seriously at all--- as we can now laugh at ourselves for getting caught up in the seriousness of the story years ago.
Cobra Kai is currently streaming on Netflix and YouTube Red. Rosi & Joey @ The Movies is sponsored by Flemington Car & Truck Country.