Cobra Kai Image
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 154 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Summary: 30 years after the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is running a successful car dealerships business while his old rival Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) is seeking to turn his life around by reopening the Cobra Kai dojo.
  • Genre(s): Comedy
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Reviewed by: Kristen Baldwin
    Apr 25, 2018
    83
    Cobra Kai manages to give Karate Kid fans exactly what they want, while using the template of the original to launch new characters aimed at younger viewers. ... But it’s hard to imagine anyone enjoying this show as much as those of us who grew up on the original.
  2. Reviewed by: Dave Nemetz
    May 2, 2018
    75
    All the trite talk of nerds and mean girls feels like it’s from a forgettable teen soap. But the foundation of Cobra Kai is solid: Not only does it deliver on the ’80s retro fun we expect--yes, Johnny and Daniel do face off across a karate mat once again--but it goes beyond that, forcing us to grapple with exactly why we want to see Johnny and Daniel face off again so badly.
  3. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    May 2, 2018
    75
    For the most part, it's an extremely clever revival, an overachiever that knowingly plays off the title's kitsch factor while evolving the characters and augmenting the cast in savvy ways.
  4. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    May 1, 2018
    70
    It’s compulsively watchable, emotionally engaging, and almost always one step ahead of where you think it’s going.
  5. Reviewed by: Mekeisha Madden Toby
    May 2, 2018
    70
    This show gets a lot of things right from the perfect amount of references and music from the original and the acid-washed 1980s where the movie reigned supreme to the impressive casting and acting. .... That said, Cobra Kai relies on coincidence far too often even for a show spawned from the decade of decadence.
  6. Reviewed by: Dave Trumbore
    May 2, 2018
    70
    You might have a good idea of how all of these pieces are going to intersect, but the real fun is in watching these characters come together in interesting ways.
  7. Reviewed by: Rafer Guzmán
    May 1, 2018
    63
    This series has an underdog spirit of its own, even if it's not quite the triumphant crane kick it could be.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 47
  2. Negative: 1 out of 47
  1. May 2, 2018
    10
    Cobra Kai is poised to be the sleeper hit of the television season. Its a show that in theory should be a cringe-inducing second stab at earlyCobra Kai is poised to be the sleeper hit of the television season. Its a show that in theory should be a cringe-inducing second stab at early 80's nostalgia. The series tells the story of 2 50 year old's from the point of view of both characters. Maybe the most surprising element of Cobra Kai is how funny it is without losing the original film's sense of heart. Its the kind of show you watch and when it ends you realize you've been smiling for half an hour. Its also the kind of series that shouldn't be nearly as good as it is. Clearly someone put a lot of thought in to how they could make this ballsy idea work. Give the pilot a shot and you'll be hooked. Expand
  2. May 6, 2018
    10
    Honestamente es una serie fabulosa. Para uno que nació con Karate Kid como la base de su infancia, es genial ver a los personajesHonestamente es una serie fabulosa. Para uno que nació con Karate Kid como la base de su infancia, es genial ver a los personajes desarrollados. William Zabka y Ralph Macchio the Best Expand
  3. May 3, 2018
    10
    I was hooked and binge watched all 10 episodes. I really enjoyed it; maybe it was the nostalgia factor, but it was much better than II was hooked and binge watched all 10 episodes. I really enjoyed it; maybe it was the nostalgia factor, but it was much better than I expected. The episodes left me wanting more! Expand
  4. May 23, 2018
    9
    A great throwback to the original movie, It even uses the two original actors. Protagonist and Antagonist. As of season one the writing hasA great throwback to the original movie, It even uses the two original actors. Protagonist and Antagonist. As of season one the writing has been good, as is character deployment. If you were a fan of the first one or even 2 and 3, you'll probably like this show. Wile seeing the first ones aren't needed you'll appreciate some of the references more if you have. Expand
  5. May 17, 2018
    9
    This is how to get nostalgia right.

    I'm an 80s kid and, like many of my peers, have fond recollections of the Karate Kid movies. I have
    This is how to get nostalgia right.

    I'm an 80s kid and, like many of my peers, have fond recollections of the Karate Kid movies. I have vivid memories of my friends and I practising the crane kick in the school playground on each other.

    So imagine our surprise to hear that this beloved series was being brought back as a comedy web series on YouTube. With the original cast no less. And the first trailers landed and immediately hit me hard in the nostalgias.

    Tonally, the trailers were comedy-heavy and whilst the jokes were amusing it did feel like a departure from the world that had been created in the movies.

    I am incredibly happy to report it is better than I ever expected it to be and better, as I read in another review, than it has any right to be.

    This is nostalgia done right; with a reverence for the original source but a willingness to be playful with it. Yes there is comedy but it veers more towards comedy-drama and is not too dissimilar from the first movie from which this series takes its entire inspiration.

    Johnny Lawrence is a down-and-out loser surviving day-to-day as an odd-job man, living in a run-down apartment building. Turns out you lose one karate tournament as a teenager and it really screws up the rest of your life.

    Johnny is still hung up on his past, unable to move on and finding it impossible to escape his rival’s success as Daniel’s numerous promotions of his car dealership intrude on his life. From his point of view, Johnny was the hero in his own story and Daniel was the villain. But the hero lost in this version and we get to see the fallout all these years later.

    And then a new kid called Miguel moves in next door to Johnny and a parallel to the first movie is played out after which Cobra Kai is open for business once again as Johnny has a point to prove to his old nemesis and his other doubters.

    I have to say, the central performance by William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence is excellent. Despite being abrasive, misogynistic and borderline racist, somehow you still end up rooting for him. His delivery in every scene is pitch perfect and lines that should sound nasty are softened by a smart, nuanced performance of a man lost in time, still living in the 80s. In later episodes he flat out bullies some of his students and his choice of language is hilariously inappropriate – “God, I feel like I’m a virgin again just looking at you” is delivered to a young, skinny teen and that’s one of the kinder things he says to his new protégés.

    The series strikes a precarious balance between modern humour and 80’s cheese without crossing the line into parody - which it could easily have done. A scene in a graveyard in later episodes ends on a quietly epic shot that highlights an obvious respect the makers of this series have for the original.

    The real fun for us old-timers is the references back to the original films.They weave in flashbacks and musical cues from the movies but it isn’t overdone and in most cases serves the story. But the show doesn’t rely on nostalgia alone and actually manages to offer a compelling narrative about the rivalry between two men that goes back to their youth and which neither has fully gotten over.

    Also Daniel is revealed not to be the cocky douche he came across as in the trailers. Although a successful businessman he has trouble connecting with his kids and still suffers from bouts of anger which lead to questionable decisions. And he finds himself lost later in life without Mr Miyagi’s advice to guide him. In other words, this is a totally believable evolution of the character in the first movie.

    Neither Danny or Johnny is the hero or villain here, both have good and valid reasons why they think they’re both in the right. The show does a good job of layering in complexity to both characters, their relationships and how they react to each other. Again I was surprised by the level of nuance built into the series. Yes it has moments of crude humour, and the language is certainly saltier than the PG rating the movies got. But it strikes the right balance between 80s cheese, modern humour, story and nostalgia.

    The show did lose steam for me when focusing on the teenage cast. Although all decent performances the narrative was once again about high school crushes and bullies which we’ve all seen before. The fight scenes aren’t really as captivating either to those of us watching amazing choreography weekly in the Arrowverse or Marvel’s TV offerings, but they’re not supposed to be and that’s fine. This is supposed to be the real world and aside from one overly-enthusiastic contestant in the tournament who kept doing somersaults for no discernible tactical advantage that I could see (aside from maybe it looks cool) the fight scenes are believably realistic in most cases.

    But all in all, when considering just how bad this series could potentially have been, I'm amazed they pulled off so well!
    Expand
  6. May 6, 2018
    8
    At the ripe age of 40 I believe I am the target audience for this series. I must say the cast and crew nailed it! This show has comedy, a goodAt the ripe age of 40 I believe I am the target audience for this series. I must say the cast and crew nailed it! This show has comedy, a good plot, chemistry and likable characters. It probably took a lot of thinking to take the original story and spin it off into an interesting series. I ended up binge watching and surprisingly found myself cheering for the Kai at times. Keep up the great work! Hoping for a season 2 Expand
  7. May 5, 2018
    3
    The story of two middle aged, washed up men who use children to settle old scores from their pasts. Johnny is a deadbeat, while Daniel seemsThe story of two middle aged, washed up men who use children to settle old scores from their pasts. Johnny is a deadbeat, while Daniel seems to be suffering from some sort of hero syndrome.

    What makes the show even more frustrating is the fact that it completely ignores the fact that Daniel was bascially a psychopathic bully who harassed Johnny and his friends in school.

    Let's be clear here, in the original movie, Daniel was the one who provoked Johnny. So when as adults Daniel starts harassing Johnny all over again, it feels absolutely absurd.

    Daniel is a successful buisnessman , he lives in utmost comfort with his beautiful wife and his spoiled children in what is essentially a mansion. Johnny meanwhile lives alone in a run down apartment complex and is fired from his dead end job in the very first episode.

    The moment Daniel meets Johnny, you can tell he is lording his good fortune over Johnny. And as soon as Daniel realizes that Johnny is teaching karate, he goes on the defensive to make every attempt to squash his old enemy.

    Frankly, if YouTube wanted me to pay for Red, this was possibly one of the worst shows they could have used to try and lure me in.
    Expand

See all 47 User Reviews

Related Articles

  1. Best & Worst Films at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

    Best & Worst Films at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Image
    Published: April 28, 2018
    Find out what critics are saying about all of the major films (and TV shows) debuting at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.