***This post contains spoilers for season 3 of Cobra Kai***
1) It throws back to our childhood nostalgia of the original Karate Kid movies with many of the same actors and (sometimes never-before-seen) footage from the movies.
2) It is genuinely entertaining and well pitched to appeal to teens as well as us oldies (80s and 90s kids).
3) There are usually some chucklesome moments per episode, even if they do often heavily rely on Johnny Lawrence being casually racist (it's funny cos he doesn't know about political correctness!) or inept with such technological difficulties as plugging in a laptop. I think he has been in suspended animation for the past 35 years.
4) The show does a good job swaying your allegiance to the various characters multiple times per season and sometimes per episode. No! You will never make me feel sorry for John Kreese! Oh, OK, maybe a tiny bit then.
Alright, enough of the pleasantries, here comes the beef.
No Pain, No...Pain
Cobra Kai seems to exist in the same pain universe as Home Alone. People, generally "high schoolers" (i.e. 20+ year olds) get kicked in the face. A lot. Like several times a show. Properly ninja-kicked full force smack in the cake-holes. How many lost teeth, broken noses or even proper black eyes have there been? NONE! They just shake it off, snarl attractively and launch themselves back at whoever is attacking them that day. I'm not really saying that this glorifies violence but the only real injuries anyone has sustained is a broken back (see gripe below) from falling and landing on a handrail and a broken arm which was purposefully broken in a power move i.e. not in the focused arena of the fight. No-one even does the obligatory shake and hand stretch after punching someone square in the jaw. Surely there should be some sort of message that beating people up sometimes hurts??
If Daniel LaRusso can go for five seconds without mentioning Mr Miyagi, I'm a monkey's uncle. Yes, we get it, he was a huge part of Daniel's life back in his formative years but that was a long time ago now. The 80s, in fact. Seriously, the first Karate Kid movie is almost 40 years old. I had an inspiring clarinet teacher when I was in my teens but you don't hear me banging on about that all the time. If I was Daniel's wife I would have exploded by now.
Zero to Hero
The skills arc is just unrealistic. Now I know, I'm being a pernickety old fun-squasher, but say I was an impressionable youth with no knowledge of martial arts (or TV tropes). I would watch this and think that I could go from gangly nerd to bad-ass actual ninja-level fighter in approximately three weeks. How disappointed would this gangly nerd be to turn up at a dojo and realize that it will take many years and thousands of dollars to achieve anything approaching the level these kids have apparently got to. Also, there is just a lot of general brawling. I sit on the sofa whinging "that's not karate! It's just fighting!" My husband loves it when I do that.
This really bugged me throughout season 1. Neither Johnny nor Daniel kept up with the karate after high school or if they did, it wasn't for long. Neither of them progressed to the stage of being able to teach karate to other people. So it begs the question - why and how are they allowed to teach martial arts to children? They have no qualifications or licenses! They're just remembering stuff they learned decades ago! Sure, I know muscle memory is a thing but it ain't that good. Johnny's old crew helping him out in a bar fight should have been a case of middle-aged men swinging their guts about, not magically remembering how to kick someone in the head whilst wearing snug jeans with no ill effects to either their stringy old leg muscles or said jeans. I reached the lofty heights of a yellow belt in Judo while at university (not impressive - it's the first one) so maybe I'll rent out a space in our local strip mall and start teaching the local youth how to throw down. Just kidding, I live in south California. Rent is way too high!
The Magic Valley
There must be something in the water in the Valley. These kids are supernatural. Not only do they become scarily good fighters in a matter of weeks, they can magically heal from their (non-fight related) wounds with seemingly no ill effects. Miguel BROKE HIS BACK and required SPINAL SURGERY. Miraculously, with the help of some ill-advised winching, many falls and the power of heavy metal, he can walk again. In the final fight of season 3, he lands heavily on his back at least twice, does several twisty kicks (I am an expert on karate terminology) and takes many heavy shots to the spine courtesy of douchebag Kyler. I was fully expecting him to be paralyzed again when Johnny sees him at the end but no, there he is, standing up as right as rain. Apart from a bit of a puffy face.
Before you get all up on your high horses, calm down, people. As stated above, let me remind you that I do really enjoy watching the show and can't wait for the season 4 showdown at the All Valley Champs. Woot!
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