Retro fix–Wax on, wax off… New series checks-in on the original Karate kids

Thirty years later that little punk you wanted to crane-kick in the head is back, but he may very well be a different person as an adult.  Take yourself back to the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, where Daniel LaRusso proved he had the right stuff against Johnny Lawrence after the infamous “sweep the leg” gave Daniel the mojo he needed to win the trophy, after learning some lessons in karate–and life–courtesy of Mr. Miyagi.

Ten half-hour episodes of a new comedy-drama are “in the can” for the series Cobra Kai, featuring the return of Ralph Macchio as Daniel and William Zabka as Johnny from the original The Karate Kid.  Johnny is reopening the bad-guy’s dojo-with-no-mojo Cobra Kai, and Daniel LaRusso is not happy about it.  But the positions are somewhat shifted this time around, as Johnny serves as sensei to a kid bullied by his peers, just as Daniel was bullied back in 1984.

Macchio sums it up, playing at our own surprise with this reboot in the first teaser for the series, saying, “I just don’t know why you’d ever want to bring back Cobra Kai,” to Johnny.  A decade ago I discussed a similar effort to re-launch a series with its original actors at San Diego Comic-Con.  I spoke with William Katt and Robert Culp about their efforts to bring The Greatest American Hero back.  They couldn’t make it work, but only last week a reboot was announced for that show, with New Girl co-star Hannah Simone taking on the powers of the suit.  But the leads from The Karate Kid are getting their wish.  Unfortunately the great Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, passed away in 2005.  Morita was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his work on the original film.  And there’s no word yet on whether Martin Kove will make an appearance as Johnny’s original sensei.

Check out this teaser for Cobra Kai:

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg will serve as writers and directors for the series.

Known for not only The Karate Kid, but as a leading actor in films like The Outsiders, Crossroads, and My Cousin Vinny, Ralph Macchio has popped up in various shows over the past 30 years, most recently reprising a cop-in-training in USA Network’s Psych: The Movie.  William Zabka continued acting in guest roles in series like Psych and How I Met Your Mother, but has been more successful behind the camera, nominated for an Academy Award in 2004 for his short film, Most.  Both actors got together on this video by Zabka for No More Kings’ song “Sweep the Leg” in 2007:

How much of this humor will make it to the series?

The only quirk: Cobra Kai will launch exclusively on YouTube Red, yet another $10 monthly subscription service.  Look for it later this year.

C.J. Bunce

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