'Cobra Kai' delivers as promised

MAY 4 — If it’s one thing I can’t stand about streaming services, it’s the international distribution laws. I would read articles about what’s coming on Netflix or Amazon Prime, get all excited, only to find that these shows would only be shown in the USA! Quite annoying.

The same thing happened with Cobra Kai. I had been waiting for months, excitedly watching every possible trailer they shared. Then, today, the day finally came. 

I was ready to subscribe to YouTube Red, the new streaming service, and stream all episodes one after another. 

To my surprise, the service is not available in the UK and no date was given as to when it would be! I was utterly flabbergasted but resigned to my fate. 

After all, what could I do? I was not about to fly to America, watch the show for 10 hours and fly back. I am not that big of a fan.

Lo and behold! YouTube decided to be merciful to its UK customers. It actually offered the first two episodes for free and charged a reasonable £1.89 (RM10) for each of the other episodes. That works out to about £15  for the season. I was happy to pay.

Cobra Kai takes place almost 35 years after the events of Karate Kid. It opens with the iconic final scene from the first movie where Daniel Larusso, the protagonist, executes the famous crane kick thereby winning the point against Johnny Lawrence, his nemesis and tormentor. 

Cobra Kai actually shows the kick from an angle never seen before in the original film. The directors actually went into the archives to find those missing shots and used them for the first time. It is amazing how different angles of the very same scene tell a different story.

And that’s what Cobra Kai is. A continuation of the Karate Kid saga, this time from the perspective of Johnny Lawrence. Johnny, for those who watched the original film, was the boy from the right side of the tracks. 

He was from a well-to-do family and was suitably matched to Ally, who unfortunately did not return his affections. Instead, she paired up with the Karate Kid himself though admittedly for only about a year or so (she had left him at the start of Karate Kid 2). So Johnny losing his champion’s crown as well as his love interest to Daniel was the beginning of his downfall.

Fast forward 35 years. Johnny is now leading a dead-end life. He has a drinking problem and no real friends. He then sees Daniel on a television advertising his car dealership. Yes, Daniel has made it and is a leading businessman in their city. 

Johnny then decides to make something of himself. After an incident in which he rescues a boy from being bullied, he decides to re-open Cobra Kai. 

However, while he does do some good for the kids he trains, he also shares with them the original and insidious philosophy of the Cobra Kai as taught by Sensei Kreese years ago.

What I liked about Cobra Kai was the fact that it did not tread the same route as the Karate Kid.

There are new storylines with both Daniel’s and Johnny’s families adding greater depth to the characters. I also loved how both of them were shaped by their experiences as young people learning martial arts. 

And Johnny is no longer the personification of the bad. As Luke Skywalker (before the abysmal Last Jedi) would say "there is still good in him." 

Cobra Kai is about Johnny Lawrence searching for meaning and redemption and it’s well worth the wait.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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