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Cobra Kai Review: Karate Kid Sequel Series Continue To Defy Expectation In Season 2

The biggest surprise of YouTube Premium’s original series Cobra Kai was how successful it was in capitalizing on nostalgia for the Karate Kid without relying on it entirely. The return of original cast members Ralph Macchio and William Zabka for a half-hour TV series on a fledgling streaming service initially looked as though it was going to be a tongue-in-cheek goof on the ‘80s coming-of-age hit that launched a franchise. Instead of clowning around with crane kicks and fence-painting training montages the series took a sincere interest in the lives of Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (Zabka), and how a single kick to the face appeared to have overwhelmingly influenced the next 30 years of their lives. 

But in the case of Cobra Kai, sincerity doesn’t translate to humorlessness. In fact, the show’s willingness to lean into comedy and occasionally poke fun at both Johnny and Daniel is perhaps its saving grace. The push-pull of two competing martial arts philosophies, headed up by two very different men, could have resulted in an overbearingly moralistic or cloyingly sweet message, but as the series (and creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald) has demonstrated from the beginning, it’s very concerned with striking the right balance with regard to it core philosophies without resorting to schmaltz to get its point across. 

More: Game Of Thrones Season 8 Review: Reunions & Introductions Raise The Series’ Stakes

That’s not to say Cobra Kai isn’t aware the sometimes awkward sincerity prevalent in the sports genre, and certainly the franchise from which it was spawned. There’s still plenty of that here, especially in season 2, as Daniel’s feud with Johnny has escalated considerably following Miguel Diaz’s (Xolo Maridueña) dirty win over Johnny’s son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), in the All Valley Tournament at the end of season 1. It’s now dojo vs. dojo — or Cobra Kai vs. Miyagi-Do — in an all-out war that may or may not see a bunch of kids’ futures as collateral damage. 

Through it all, though, Cobra Kai maintains a healthy sense of humor, and its secret weapon is Zabka’s performance as Johnny, a man so stuck in the past he’s living an almost Rip Van Winkle-like existence. Between his morning routine of chugging cans of Coors and eating Slim Jims, utter un-wokeness, and ongoing relationship with ‘80s rock, Johnny Law is a light snack for today’s “call out culture,” a man just waiting to be “canceled.” Though the series dangles the villain bait with regard to Johnny, it doesn’t take it. Instead, the ostensible protagonist of the series becomes a prime example of season 2’s major through-line: the question of second chances and who, if anyone, deserves one. 

To answer that, Cobra Kai brings Johnny’s old sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) back from the dead. Instead of dying in the wake of losing the Cobra Kai dojo following the events of Karate Kid, the steely ex-solider gets a re-engineered story, one in which he re-enlisted and did some black ops work in the intervening decades. Whether there’s any truth to what Kreese tells Johnny is almost beside the point; the guy epitomizes not only the notion of second chances, but also the season’s other overarching theme of fathers (or father figures) and how their influence shapes the future of their sons. Or in the case of Johnny and Daniel, how a pair of mentors shaped the lives of their surrogate children. 

The series allows this to play out in a variety of ways, building on the dynamic between Daniel and his own children Samantha (Mary Mouser) and Anthony (Griffin Santopiero), as well as his Miyagi-like relationship with the estranged son of his sworn enemy, Robby. Similarly, Johnny’s relationship with Miguel continues to evolve, as the recently crowned All Valley Karate champ has to learn a little humility, and also that his sensei is a flawed human being who’s learning how to be a role model as he goes along. 

Of the series’ parallel storylines, the Johnny/Miguel relationship is the more engaging one, and not only because being the “bad guy” is more fun, but because Cobra Kai has positioned Johnny as the character with the most to lose and the most to gain. That might seem impossible considering where he was when the series began, but everything that Johnny has, everything that means something to him, has only come to him since the series began. And the biggest threat to what Johnny’s built isn’t Daniel LaRusso and his Miyagi-Do; it’s Kreese and Johnny’s own baser instincts. 

As the season attempts to demonstrate through the escalation of the rivalry between the two dojos and their respective sensei, bad people aren’t born, they’re made. This way of thinking is what turns Johnny Lawrence into a surprisingly and satisfyingly compelling character, one who is wrestling with the poor choices he’s made in the past, even as his current circumstances threaten to push him down a similar path. That Cobra Kai can pull that off, all while being an entertaining mix of comedy and drama in a half-hour package is another example of how the series continues to defy expectations. 

Next: Bosch Season 5 Review: TV’s Most Reliably Entertaining Cop Show Returns

Cobra Kai season 2 will be available to stream beginning April 24 exclusively on YouTube Premium.


2019-04-23 02:04:14

Kevin Yeoman

Fear the Walking Dead Season 5 Will Continue a Story From The Walking Dead

Scott Gimple, chief content officer of AMC’s The Walking Dead franchise, hints that Fear the Walking Dead season 5 will continue a plotline from the main series. The news marks the latest in a series of crossovers between the two TV shows after Lennie James and his character Morgan departed The Walking Dead to make their debut appearance on Fear the Walking Dead in season 4. More recently, it was confirmed that another character who originated on The Walking Dead – former Negan henchman turned anti-hero Dwight (Austin Amelio) – would also be crossing over into Fear the Walking Dead.

The crossovers come at a time when the wider Walking Dead universe is expanding at a rapid rate. After the departure of Rick Grimes – the man it all began with – from The Walking Dead season 9 it was confirmed that a trilogy of movies focusing on Grimes were in the works. Following that, the powers that be at AMC confirmed that yet another Walking Dead spinoff show was in active development. Just how the trilogy and new show will fit into and connect with The Walking Dead universe has been the subject of much discussion among fans of the franchise, and now it appears there will be another connection to discuss soon.

Related: How Morgan Ends Up in Fear The Walking Dead

More links between the main Walking Dead series and its original spinoff will be revealed in season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead, which is set to premiere on June 2. Speaking to ComicBook.com (via CBR) at WonderCon 2019 last weekend, head honcho Scott Gimple suggested that a storyline originating on The Walking Dead would be continued on Fear the Walking Dead, stating:

“This season, I wouldn’t classify it as an enemy, but there will be this, beyond Austin [Amelio], this very interesting commonality, this story strand that’s gonna be furthered on this show that started on The Walking Dead,” teased Gimple. “And who knows where it will go? But that’s the thing on tap right now.”

With all the loose ends left at the conclusion of The Walking Dead season 9, there are certainly lots of plot threads that Fear the Walking Dead could pick up on. There’s the mystery surrounding Rick Grimes’ kidnapping via helicopter and the fact that the Whisperers look like they’re planning an all-out war against Alexandria and the other communities. There’s also the issue of who on Earth was behind the unidentified voice trying to contact Alexandria via radio that was heard at the very end of season 9’s final episode.

Looking more closely at Gimple’s statement, however, it looks like the possibility of a villain from the main show turning up on Fear the Walking Dead is unlikely given that he implies the connected plotline doesn’t focus on an enemy. As The Walking Dead just had a big time jump, putting it now six years ahead of its spinoff, it’s unlikely that any loose plots from after the time jump could be continued on Fear the Walking Dead either.

Could the storyline that Gimple hints at be connected to the main man himself Rick Grimes and the mystery of his helicopter-flying kidnappers? Hopefully, fans will soon find out when season 5 of Fear the Walking Dead premieres in June.

Next: The Walking Dead: 6 Unanswered Questions After The Season 9 Finale

Source: ComicBook.com


2019-04-07 11:04:29

Helen Armitage

‘Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch’ makes off with $66M at box office



“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” sledded past mixed reviews and made off with $66 million for Universal Pictures to top the weekend North American box office, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Last week’s…Click To Continue



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Six films hit the silver screen this week



‘Suspiria’Modern “Suspiria,” which adapts the cult classic of Dario Argento, revolves around the mysterious events at a dance school as a young dancer begins her studies there.Directed by Luca Guadagnino,…Click To Continue



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Derviş Zaim: Right, truth, conscience are most important components of my movies



The 8th International Crime and Punishment Film Festival starts today with a rich screening program that seeks to enhance awareness, communication, solidarity and long-term collaboration on an international…Click To Continue



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Malatya, the meeting point for international film festivals



Organized by the Malatya Metropolitan Municipality and with the contributions of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and the Tourism General Directorate of Cinema and Malatya Governorship, the 8th Malatya…Click To Continue



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Comprehensive Ronit Elkabetz retrospective showing at Pera Film



Paying homage to Ronit Elkabetz, who created stunning female characters fighting for their freedom against boundaries determined by society, Pera Film is offering a selection of her films titled ‘Beyond…Click To Continue



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Former shoe factory in Istanbul awaits cinephiles



Kundura Cinema is organizing films, thematic programs and side events at the Beykoz Kundura building, a part of Turkey’s industrial cultural heritage. It is inviting movie lovers to a different movie experience…Click To Continue



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‘Screwdriver’ director Jarbawi: Life in Palestine a struggle



Bassam Jarbawi, the scriptwriter and director of ‘Screwdriver,’ which was screened at the 6th Bosporus Film Festival, talked about his film on Palestinian lifeClick To Continue



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Raymond Chow, Hong Kong producer behind Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, dies at 91



Legendary Hong Kong film producer Raymond Chow, who introduced the world to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and even brought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen, has died at age 91.

Hong Kong’…Click To Continue



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