Written by / 5/03/2018 / No comments / , , , , , ,

RALPH MACCHIO & WILLIAM ZABKA (KICK) BACK ON 'COBRA KAI'

The bad guy's logos are always the coolest YEAR: 2018
Using the Sympathy for the Devil approach, COBRA KAI takes the two most memorable young (male) characters from THE KARATE KID and pits them against each other, again, thirty-four-years later...

Ralph Macchio's once humble underdog hero Daniel is now a filthy rich (and initially banal) car salesman who uses former trainer Mr. Miyagi's philosophy, including an item he gives to each customer, in a very shallow manner: But the real star is an actor that, albeit never a household name (except for extreme movie geeks), played a character that, despite there having been two Ralph Macchio with Pat Morita KARATE KID sequels with their own set of villains, is the one (led by Martin Kove's nefarious Sensei) that really mattered... Or, matters... 

Again, William Zabka as Johnny
KAI takes Zabka's one-dimensional bully character and retrofits him with the new kind of quick-glib persona, humorously derailing what would otherwise be considered mean-spirited or racist (with a sort of Aaron Paul vibe, somehow). He does an incredible job playing a fifty-something has-been nobody to not only feel for but root for: And that's not rooting so he'll win, like we did for Macchio in KID. Because the further Zabka's once popular and perfectly blond-haired, blue-eyed Johnny dives into a spiral, the better his character is — it's what the show's really all about. Not some predictable redemption of a former bully but the progression of a once unapologetic, narrow-minded jerk being able to remain one in a likable, natural, and even relatable fashion.

Ralph Macchio as Daniel, again
Overall, with these kind of binge shows, it's impossible to write too much since there are twists and turns around each and every corner, and spoilers aren't good, but to rate this solely on a serial-cliffhanger foundation (going back to pulp magazines before cinema even existed), it's more addicting after (and even during) the first two (free on YouTube) episodes than most shows on Netflix and Amazon that constantly force viewers to become proverbial junkies much too quickly, and obviously. And despite the "we really miss our youth" media surrounding the series, KAI isn't just a house built on nostalgia...

The quintessential bully
In fact, they play one flashback too many of the John G. Avildsen classic, taking away from these old (and new i.e. young and ironically similar in a "turn the script around" fashion) characters involved in something... dare it be said... even better than its origin. Well, at least more realistic...

CobraKaiGrade: A+
Which doesn't mean THE KARATE KID isn't timeless and exciting perfection (in its own lighthearted way). Scenes between Macchio and Pat Morita turned an otherwise fun and thrilling sport yarn into something very deep and moving: like a mesmerizing stage-play at times. But in COBRA KAI, both sides are shown with equal merit and, let's face it, throughout the years, William Zabka... who basically played the same bullying a--hole in JUST ONE OF THE GUYS and BACK TO SCHOOL... has been regarded with the same amount of devoted nostalgia as the KID himself...

Maybe more since, as the years roll on, we flawed humans start lionizing those characters who — evil or just selfish, greedy or mislead — didn't care what anyone said, or thought about their actions or what reactions would come of them. And that's COBRA KAI: A vehicle far more legit than all the current 80's-loving STRANGER THINGS out there since... these were the guys who were there, and lived it. Plus, the acting... especially Macchio and Zabka's odd couple anti-chemistry... will surprise people who think the "totally awesome" old-school movies were all magically conjured-up by some wizard of pop culture past — as if the performances were all just "meant to be." With this show, our memories are back, and no longer abandoned dreams. Everyone's truly alive now, and completely awake.  
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