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Cobra Kai

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The first two episodes of COBRA KAI are up for free on YouTube:

 

 

Just watched episode 1, so far, so good.  

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I do not need another $9.99 a month streaming service...

 

That said, I might make time to use the free month to binge the rest of the season.

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This is really, really good. I'm through two episodes and this is what Karate Kid 3 should have been. 

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15 hours ago, Craig H said:

This is really, really good. I'm through two episodes and this is what Karate Kid 3 should have been. 

Watched the first four episodes last night and agree that it's really good.

 

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I actually wound up watching the whole season yesterday. I liked it a lot. Felt very much like Karate Kid. Yes, it's cheesy and clunky at times, but so was Karate Kid. It all fits. I'm looking forward to the next season.

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Cobra Kai was great. 

 

Spoiler

It was not a redemption story, but the rise of a new generation of villains. That Johnny can't control. 

 

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If you can get a free month of Youtube Red, watch Cobra Kai. Hell I would say its worth ten dollars, even if I have no idea if Youtube Red has anything else worth watching. 

 

Spoiler

The first observation I have is Johnny is not the hero. He is the protagonist but you learn quickly everything he touches turns to shit. His life is a disaster and he blames it on that lost Karate tournament. What you have to realize is, that was the worst night of his life. If he had simply lost to Daniel, he probably could have moved on. Then his father figure tried to choke him to death. Johnny could never move on from that and he could not bring himself to hate Kreese, so he hates Daniel Larusso. Who is very successful and Johnny has to see him everywhere. This is not Daniel's fault, he seems to have forgotten about Johnny and leads a good life. Except his kids are not on a great path. His daughter (more on her later) is a self centered social climber and his son a fat spoiled little shit. Miyagi has been dead since 2013 and Daniel seems to lack purpose. 

When Johnny goes to pick his car up, something is awoken in Daniel. 

Now we have the new characters that every reboot inevitably has. Much like these reboots, they are the worst part. But here they are firmly connected to Johnny and Daniel, so you care. Miguel is Daniel's analog but instead of finding a Miyagi, he finds Johnny. He is a good kid but he gained too much power too quickly and had no one to guide him down the right road. So in the end, he is almost fully a villain with less honor than Johnny had at his age. He is not irredeemable, which if they come back can be explored. 

Robby is Johnny's son and it seems Johnny has abandoned him and his mom is a drunken mess. He only runs into Daniel, trying to hurt his dad. Daniel takes him on as a student since his kids are shitheads. Johnny's biggest flaw as a dad is he thinks he needs his kids permission to be his father. When he should have said "I'm an adult and you're a child and you'll do as you're told."

You have to mention Johnny's other students. One being Eli, a boy with a cleft pallet who changes himself after being berated by Johnny. He proves to be a psychopath who Johnny learns too late he can't control. If the show comes back, Eli should be the true villain. 

Aisha is a heavy set girl who was a former friend of Daniel's daughter, who joins Cobra Kai after being bullied by the popular girls her former friend has hooked up with. She is a wildcard, she has shown both good and bad traits. 

Now we get to Samantha Larusso. She is treated as the female lead and someone we should identify with. But unintentionally (?) she seems to be more Johnny than Daniel. We meet her as a social climber who befriends the popular kids/bullies. At no point does she ever do the right thing unprompted. She only turns on the bullies after they turn on her. She is in a relationship with Miguel and in the end inadvertently cements his heel turn. I hope if the show comes back, they try to fix her character. It is the biggest flaw of an otherwise great series. 

One surprising thing is that Karate Kid 3 was a big plot element in the series. Cobra Kai had been banned after the behavior of Mike Barnes and Terry Silver. Who Johnny did not seem to know at all. So he struggles to get reinstated. This is a big spoiler but Johnny says Kreese is dead. We later see in the end that Kreese is alive. This leads to us wondering if Johnny was lying or if he really thought he was dead. 

In all I hope the show does come back. Would I get a Youtube Red subscription for it, that really depends on how Youtube Red grows. 

 

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YouTube Red has a really cool competition show about aspiring sneaker designers. They even do a wrestling themed shoe at one point during the season.

I wasted my free trial to watch the entire season, so I’d have to pay the $10 to watch the rest of Cobra Kai. It seems decent enough, I like how they provided enough backstory for people who have never seen the movies before like myself.

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I don't know why Youtube Red did not try to get James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) to create content for them. Unlike the streamers and Lets Players, Rolfe has shown he can provide quality original content. I think it would be worth the risk to throw some cash at him to create some new shows, Whether it be more regular AVGN content or new Board James episodes or something completely original. 

Board James is worth checking out. The early episodes are short and the later ones some very bizarre original content. 

This reminds me, is Amazon Prime worth getting. I tried it once and the interface on PS3 was shit. Especially with the element of shows you were expected to pay for even with a subscription. 

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I might give it another shot since it has went to a monthly model. Especially if I invest in a Roku device. 

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For something that initially looked like it was going to border on self-parody, Cobra Kai was way better than it had any right to be.

 

Spoiler

They did a great job making every character have their own flaws and issues from the past they were trying to work out.  I think my favorite part was Johnny and Daniel hanging out at a bar and realizing that they weren't all that different after all.  They came from different backgrounds but their lives had very similar turning points and it was almost pure happenstance that they ended up with the father figures that they did.

Johnny may know deep down what the honorable way to run a dojo is but he never had the proper guiding figure to instruct him and thus didn't know how to build a relationship with his own son nor how to properly train his students.  Miguel also had a sympathetic heart but when you give someone who has always been shit on a small amount of power, they run wild with it.  You can see in their post-tournament reactions that the two of them realized they'd gone about winning in the wrong way and that there's some way for them to grow from this.  

I didn't buy Robby as a sympathetic character however.  A lot of his personality was a result of his upbringing for certain, but even after Daniel's tutelage he still came across as a con artist and a shady asshole.  Part of that could be that I'm sick of the tired old "person schemes their way into someone's good graces or gets someone to fall for them as part of a con, but eventually comes to genuinely like them" trope.

There's plenty of setup here for a second season and I really hope it happens.  With Kreese being back in the picture, I'd predict he tries to take over the newly restored Cobra Kai and once again take them further down the dishonorable road they were on previously.  Hawk would obviously follow his lead and be the main player in the Cobra Kai Wolfpack while Johnny and Miguel try to keep Cobra Kai black and white in a more reasonable direction.  It also looked like Daniel's daughter was looking to resume her training so there's also the question of her wanting to train under her father again, perhaps vying for his attention with Robby, or go find her own path.

 

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Is it wrong I really want Chozen to show up in S2 of Cobra Kai?

I mean that's a character with just as much beef with Daniel as Kreese

James

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6 hours ago, J.H. said:

Is it wrong I really want Chozen to show up in S2 of Cobra Kai?

I mean that's a character with just as much beef with Daniel as Kreese

James

I wanted that from day one. I love Karate Kid 2 and think it is a better movie in a lot of ways. That along with Terry Silver and Mike Barnes are things they have in their back pocket. 

 

Spoiler

I forgot Kreese faked his death in 3 so Johnny probably did think he was dead. Kreese likely needs Johnny since he is the one who got them banned in the first place. Cobra Kai is what Ghostbusters 16 should have been. I wonder if Sony actually learned a lesson or if it was a coincidence. 

 

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According Karate Kid Wiki Chozen committed suicide after O-bon Festival. I did not know that

James

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I don't think that is canonical. 

 

Spoiler

Anybody find it strange that neither Johnny and Daniel don' have adult children? They were 19 in 1985 and while I can see Daniel being careful, Johnny should have more than one teenager. He should probably have grandkids. 

 

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Maybe he does but they choose not to have any contact with him.

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I loved Cobra Kai but if it comes back for a second season they really need to disguise that they're shooting the show somewhere that isn't the San Fernando Valley, the leaves on the ground, no palm trees, everyone wearing jackets and hoodies in the Valley during summer was pretty bad.

 

 

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Thoughts on Cobra Kai, which I plowed through in two days.

Spoiler

The show works on every level. It is far from being "good" in a prestige TV sense. The plot is ludicrous. The contrivances are ridiculous. The acting is terrible. But it is so much fucking fun. I could not get through two seasons of Mad Men and I lasted four episodes of Breaking Bad before I tapped. But I have seen the entire series of 90210 about three dozen times and I've watched probably 95% of every episode of Degrassi. I will always love these types of ridiculous premises. They also have in so many past references to all three of the movies that it is glorious. It is just a blast to watch.

Daniel is in many ways even more pathetic than Johnny. Despite being the prominent owner of luxury car dealerships, he has never gotten over his karate success. Can you imagine going to buy a high end car and then walking out with a banzai tree? And then when you ask why you are being gifted a banzai tree all for test driving an Audi, you are told the story about how the owner of the dealership was a teenage karate champion whose mentor was a banzai tree enthusiast? I also love that his wife is so bemused by the whole deal. She has heard all of these things so many times and is doing her absolute best to not roll her eyes. The episode where Johnny (rightly) shows up at Daniel's manse and they have a pool-side stand-off and she uses the phrase "teenage karate rival" and not wanting blood on the patio was wonderful. I love their bickering over breakfast so much, too. And Daniel was being such a dick using his connections to try and ruin the Cobra Kai's rent payment and pitching a fit on the karate board for stuff that happened 30 years ago.

I loved the plots with the kids so much. They really roped me in. A lot of that is because they are so relatable. True story: I was bullied a ton as a kid. I went to a middle school where I was treated like crap and the teachers and administrators just constantly looked the other way and gave zero shits well before the pre-Columbine era. After some nonsense happened to me, my mom went to the principal and vice-principal and pitched a fit about how I was being treated. Their response was for me to sign up for karate lessons and learn self-defense. My mom laughed in their faces and said this was absolutely preposterous. I never took karate lessons, thankfully. But every nerd does fantasize about beating the shit out of his/her tormentors. It was great to live vicariously through that.

Johnny is an asshole. But he does have a lot of redemptive qualities as a teacher. I mean, nearly drowning a child isn't necessarily I would want an adult doing to my progeny. But Miguel learns what he can do and takes down his scumbag bullies. Hawk learns he doesn't have to define himself by his cleft lip and instead becomes a mohawked kid. Aisha gains self-confidence and has a wicked enough sense of humor to humiliate. I don't think Miguel is really much of a villain at the end. I mean, he's not heroic. But he's just a kid who finally has self-esteem who loses the first girl who ever paid him any attention in some Romeo + Juliet scenario. I'd be pissed as hell, too, if I didn't hear back from my girlfriend and then saw her showing up to the party laughing it up with some pretty boy you already saw worming his way into her good graces. I know it's misunderstood because of her punishment. And Daniel's daughter accidentally gets his because of his aggression. But it's all kids being kids. The new Cobra Kai kids don't do anything malicious or terrible to anyone outside of the confines of the tournament. Aisha gives the mean girl a wedgie and humiliates her, but that girl absolutely deserved it, and she didn't get physically assaulted. They take a few cheap shots against Robbie in the tournament, and that was out of line, but that's also the heat of competition.

Robbie is also far from the hero. While he becomes a better person after Daniel's tutoring and is no longer a petty criminal, he still engineered this whole thing to betray his father. I know his dad's been a dick to him. But that is beyond low. And he is clearly making moves on Daniel's daughter while lying about his ties to the family. 

The final scene is one of the best cliff-hangers ever. Seeing Kreese with that cigar and a puzzled, shocked Johnny... so awesome. It's on par with that episode of Dynasty where everyone was shot by terrorists while at a wedding in a fictional country. (The backstory of that: The cast was in heated negotiations with the producers. So the writers had an out if anyone balked from the show. However, everyone ended up coming back so they ridiculously had to act like everyone survived a barrage of machine gun fire.)

All in all, Cobra Kai was an absolute blast to watch. I absolutely cannot wait for Season 2. I will absolutely be cancelling my YouTube Red subscription, but this was great.
 

 

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