I’m a child of the 80s, so perhaps I’m biased. But I feel as if the stuff we got back then still stands the test of time. Of course, playing retro video games is all the rage. But I posit that other art forms have aged even better. Take, for instance, music: any track by The Smiths will sound as poignant today as it did 30 years ago. The same applies to films. The 80s was the decade when movie-making technology made a significant step forward, helping the output stay much more relevant. But the themes were always great. And when it comes to great themes, few franchises can top The Karate Kid. A couple of years ago, YouTube decided to revive the IP. Cobra Kai was an instant success, and has thankfully transitioned onto a much wider platform. But why is it that people still relate to stuff made before they were born? Why are The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai so good? Let’s find out.
Even though the venerable Mr. Miyagi (played by the late Pat Morita) is no longer a part of it all, he’s somehow still with us. Of course, he played a huge role in the success of the original films. Despite not being the first casting choice, Pat Morita brought a serene, relatable and heartwarming portrayal to the character. One of my favorite bits of his is his reaction to Daniel-san stealing his bonzai tree. Set against a backdrop that would make you think of any crazyvegas casino online in terms of scenery and excitement, Macchio’s character rappels down and steals the thing Miyagi wanted to protect the most. And yet, Miyagi’s first reaction was to forgive Daniel-san and heal the tree. This is just one such example. The franchise is littered with great pop-philosophy from Morita’s character.
Cobra Kai’s showrunners have been smart to realize that the series needed Miyagi. With Pat Morita gone, they introduced his characters through the feelings Daniel Larusso gets as an adult. This is such a subtle, sweet touch. Much less heavy-handed than going full Star Wars and filling the screen with holograms. Instead, Ralph Macchio’s ethical struggles eventually find their North through the enduring teachings of Mr. Miyagi. And Cobra Kai is a much better show because of that.
Even though I did not live in California, or Florida, or Japan, I always felt like I could relate to The Karate Kid. It wasn’t about culture or location, but rather about overcoming adversity. It was about not giving up, standing up to bullying and being respectful. Having been on the receiving end of bullying growing up, Daniel-san’s struggles against Johnny and the Cobra Kai always hit home.
It’s great to see that they somewhat switched things around for the Cobra Kai TV show. Johnny is a sort of anti-hero, perhaps even more relatable than the adult Larusso. The series also makes an important step forward in making both the adults and the kids equally complex. Some of the story arcs are incredible, and definitely right up there with Game of Thrones or whatever else is on TV these days.
One undersung aspect of most YA films from the 80s is the incredible acting. Be it Labyrinth, The Goonies or anything by John Hughes, most performances are Oscar-worthy or thereabouts. The Karate Kid is no exception. Sure, there are some silly things here and there, but overall, the acting is top notch.
Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio in particular are a joy to watch. They share so much chemistry. But it’s not just them: you could go to any of a number of the new casinos online, put your money down for a good scene happening in 20 seconds, and cashing out big time.
At the end of the day, though, this is just the beginning. The Karate Kid is great, and there are 3 very good movies with Macchio and Morita. I will not talk about the Jaden Smith atrocity, but there’s a very good non-Macchio sequel, called The Next Karate Kid. It features Hillary Swank as Miyagi’s student, Julie Pierce.