YouTube Red has launched an original series based on the characters of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel Larusso from the original (and, let's face it, the only one worth mentioning) "Karate Kid". While I have yet to see all ten episodes, I have to say, based on what I've seen so far, the show creators got it right. The series is admittedly a bit darker than the original feel-good motion picture that spawned it 34 years ago in 1984, but it's dark in the right way and in the right places.
Ralph Macchio (Larusso) and William Zabka (Lawrence) have openly said that they have been approached in the past for "Karate Kid"-related projects but that they turned them down as they didn't treat the original subject matter respectfully. Clearly, they felt "Cobrak Kai" did, and they were right. This critically-acclaimed series was obviously created by writers who are die-hard fans of the original movie (the sequels not really worth being mentioned). They found a captivating entry point through the character of Lawrence, now over three decades removed from his humiliating, shocking defeat at the hands of Larusso in the All Valley Karate Tournament ("sweep the leg", anyone?). And Johnny is a broken man, down on his luck. Presumably from the day he choked in that tournament, things have been downhill for him. Meanwhile Larusso is a family man, and a somewhat fast-talking car dealership owner. While his career choice may not necessarily fit the nature of the underdog character of his youth, it works well enough in this series.
I don't want to give too much away, but the story arc hits its stride when Lawrence, perhaps looking at it as a means of crafting a more noble version of his younger self, takes a young teenager who is picked on (much like Lawrence picked on kids in his youth) under his wing to train in the ways of Cobra Kai ("Strike first, strike hard, no mercy!") However, when Larusso learns that his old rival Johnny has opened a brand new Cobra Kai dojo that may entice his own daughter, the fates of he and Lawrence collide once again in conflict as Larusso vows to rid his community of this school that, 34 years later, once again threatens the sacred art and nobility of karate as it is meant to be practiced.
From what I've seen so far, I highly recommend this entertaining, sometimes gritty series. Whether you grew up with the "Karate Kid" as I did, or you are new to the game, I recommend watching or re-watching the 1984 film and then following it up with a binge-watching of "Cobra Kai". I was only disappointed that Daniel didn't end up with Elizabeth Shue's character from the original movie. And at times the acting is a little less than stellar but that can be overlooked as the content is riveting.
Other than that, is "Cobra Kai" worth the price of a YouTube Red subscription? YES, SENSEI!!!!