Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy.
Cobra Kai is a 2018 martial arts comedy-drama series created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg. It currently has three seasons streaming to both YouTube and Netflix, consisting of thirty episodes. It has been renewed for a fourth season. The series stars William Zabka and Ralph Macchio. It has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys during its run. This show acts as a sequel to the Karate Kid franchise as a whole, but a truly direct sequel to The Karate Kid.
"There is no bad. Only weak or strong." -John Kreese
After Miguel Diaz beats Robby Keene in the Under 18 All-Valley Tournament, Cobra Kai is officially put on the map. Now noticed by his former sensei, John Kreese, Johnny Lawrence must figure out how to deal with the rise in popularity of Cobra Kai as he tries to fix his relationship with his son. Meanwhile, Daniel LaRusso follows in Mr. Miyagi's footsteps, re-opening Miyagi-Do Karate to rival and eventually take out Cobra Kai.
If you read my review of Season 1 (check it out here), then you know that I was not the biggest fan of how the season ended. Complete opposite situation here.
To be honest, I did not like most of Season 2. It almost threw me off of the Cobra Kai train. But the finale hits all the right notes. Everything has nice payoff. Since it built up the tension between Robby and Miguel, Tory and Sam, and Demetri and Hawk, its tons of fun to watch everything blow up. Then the emotion hits when Miguel breaks his back. Suddenly, stakes and consequences are introduced into Cobra Kai. Even though the finale has a cartoonishly over-the-top school karate battle, we get a legitimate heavy and dark ending that unravels all good things that had happened throughout the season.
I also appreciated seeing the influence that Cobra Kai has on the Valley. We understand that it has become a phenomenon. It was enough to attract the attention of Kreese and Tory and a bunch of new students. They did a good job of making that aspect realistic, which was cool to see. It shows that, while Cobra Kai can be very cringy and stupid, there is thought and care put into the production.
And this is when Kreese becomes a full-fledged, manipulative, lying, evil villain. He sucked before, but now he has become a true threat that needs to be stopped. He is causing kids to get hurt and in trouble, and you feel that. It's interesting to see him snake his way up through Cobra Kai (no pun intended) and eventually take it over. I like that they pose him as a good guy until they reveal that he has been training the Cobra Kais for a long time.
The love triangle with Miguel, Robby, and Sam is well executed, too. It makes the finale all the more gut-wrenching when you realize that Robby just undid his redemption by kicking Miguel over the railing. You don't want Miguel to get Sam, because she seems happy with Robby, but you also get worried when he starts dating Tory.
However, I do have a good amount of problems with this season.
I have three huge problems with this season.
I'm going to start by summarizing what I think causes this problem: They simply didn't have enough new ideas to make this a good season. A lot of the things that happen are just continuations of the same stuff we saw near the end of Season 1.
I don't think Miguel's character really works in this season. He was a great new Karate Kid in Season 1, and his slow turn to the darker side of Cobra Kai near the end of the season was really good. But then they don't do anything with him. Throughout most of the season, he's pretty much sitting around with the rest of Cobra Kai, while sometimes going up to Johnny or to Kreese and asking questions. What they didn't include was the hilariously fun relationship between him and Johnny. Season 3 redeems Miguel's character, but Season 2 really does a number on him. I am also not a fan of Xolo Maridueña. He has very limited facial expressions and a very quiet line delivery that I don't like.
Also, Daniel and Johnny have the same stupid squabbles that they did in the first season. It wasn't stupid in the first season, but by now, it has gotten old. We don't need to see them constantly arguing over Cobra Kai and their long karate rivalry. They haven't found anything new to do with these characters yet. Once again, Season 3 is able to make their rivalry fun again, but I'm reviewing Season 2. And they just do the same thing in this season as they did in Season 1.
I said this in Season 1, but karate is taken way too seriously in this show. And Season 2 just builds on that. This section is summarized by one line. In episode 2 (I think), Kreese is trying to convince Johnny to let him help out with Cobra Kai. In his speech, he says "The world needs Cobra Kai."....? Really? It's a high school karate dojo! This is constant throughout the season. It weighs the fun of the show down when they are acting like karate is life or death. I just can't stand it. This is my least favorite part of the show.
Finally, I hate Demetri in this season. Season 3 fixes him, but he is the single most annoying character ever put in a show. His sarcastic nerdiness had some weird charm originally, but when he tries to join Miyagi-Do, he just complains. He was so whiny and so irritating. I don't like how he was written at all, and I am very happy he was changed in Season 3. But, once again, this is a review of Season 2.
Cobra Kai's second season may finish out strong and lead into an even stronger third season, but that doesn't take away from the lack of new ideas and the overly serious karate stuff.
I have to go with a Sour rating. Age range is 7+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 6.5/10
Created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg
Rated TV-14 for karate violence and action, language, thematic elements
Episode runtime: 30 minutes
William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence
Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso
Xolo Maridueña as Miguel Diaz
Tanner Buchanan as Robby Keene
Mary Mouser as Samantha LaRusso
Jacob Bertrand as Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz
Martin Kove as John Kreese
Gianni DeCenzo as Demetri
Peyton List as Tory Nichols
Courtney Henggeler as Amanda LaRusso
Nicole Brown as Aisha Robinson
Vanessa Rubio as Carmen Diaz