Although it’s easily bingeable, Cobra Kai is a deceptively ambitious series. Balancing the sentiment from The Karate Kid features while carving out a new path for a younger generation is a tricky prospect. Fans of the show should be glad to hear that third season continues the show’s growing momentum. My review of Cobra Kai season three is spoiler free, just fyi!
Cobra Kai’s second season left most of the principal cast in emotional tatters, and Samanta LaRusso (Mary Mouser) is still shaken up by her fight with Tory (Peyton List). Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) is nowhere to be found after Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) is seriously injured during the high school brawl.
Season three has Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) attempting to pick up the pieces in their own manner. If you want more scenes between these lifelong adversaries, then you won’t be disappointed. Since both of them want to find Robby, an unlikely team-up surfaces, but if you know a thing or two about this universe, this union is about as solid as water.
Most of the main characters are able to face their inner demons through this season, and Daniel’s long anticipated trip to Okinawa brings a poignant reunion with The Karate Kid II’s Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto). Daniel’s past, and most importantly his continued love for Mr. Miyagi, are spotlighted in this journey which ultimately enhances the season’s potent storyline.
Although I’m a Generation Xer, my favorite moments of Cobra Kai has not been its frequent callbacks to the past, but rather its attention to the present. The quality time that Johnny Lawrence and Miguel spent in season one ramps up to another level in season three. Even amidst the hurdles that Johnny and Miguel respectively face, they have each other’s back (their comedic moments together also bring a refreshing pop to the series).
Take a listen to the latest episode of Find Your Film, as we review Wonder Woman 1984, Deep Red, and We The Kings:
Cobra Kai’s biggest revelation comes with spending a ton of time giving us John Kreese’s (Martin Kove) backstory. Though Kreese is ultimately Cobra Kai’s main antagonist, his “no mercy” policy comes from a truly understandable and tragic place. It’s great to see Kove play this character to the hilt, and his encounters with both Daniel and Johnny are electric.
Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) and Demetri (Gianni Decenzo) also are afforded a healthy share of character development. I do miss Aisha (Nichole Brown) who does not appear in the third season, and her presence is definitely missed. That said, there is so much ground to cover in season three, that a few characters would undoubtedly get the short end of the stick.
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I have found memories of watching The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part II during the 80s. I’ve interviewed late filmmaker John G. Alvidsen, William Zabka and Martin Kove on separate occassions, so there is a slight bias behind my unabased love for the Cobra Kai series.
Even with that sentiment, I’m not handling season three with kid gloves. The storylines and characters are well developed, and anyone with a shred of empathy may understand why judging these characters is not exactly a black and white thing. For all of his manipulative decisions and survive at any cost mentality, Kreese is not an entirely evil guy. Plus, Johnny and Daniel still have a ton of growing up to do.
With three seasons under its belt, Cobra Kai has not overstayed its welcome. There is still so much more ground to cover. If the kids really are the future, than Cobra Kai, blessed with a talented ensemble and an engaged group of fillmmakers, isn’t leaving us anytime soon.
I also review Cobra Kai season 3 on the latest episode of CinemAddicts:
The third season of Cobra Kai premieres globally on Netflix January 1, 2021.
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