The battle for the soul of the valley rages on as Terry Silver’s new, improved, and more deadly Cobra Kai expands its aims to broaden its reach beyond the valley.
Last Updated: 04.45 PM, Sep 11, 2022
Story: After being forced to shut down Miyagi-do, Daniel (Ralph Macchio) brings in Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto) in a desperate attempt to bring down the dangerous Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). After reconciling with his son Robby (Tanner Buchanan), Johnny (William Zabka) takes him on a road trip to Mexico in search of Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), who has run away from home in search of his biological father. Samantha (Mary Mouser) is still haunted by her last encounter with her arch nemesis Tory Nichols (Peyton List) and hopes to find inner peace by distancing herself from karate.
Review: 2022 has not been the best of years for Netflix in terms of the streaming giant’s finances, due to a number of factors. However, its flagship shows such as Stranger Things, Squid Game, Money Heist, and The Witcher continue to dominate streaming charts. Cobra Kai could soon join this list, at the very least it could end up being the only Netflix original programming that has managed to consistently deliver quality content season after season. Season 5 of The Karate Kid spin-off has not only maintained its lofty standards, but it has most definitely exceeded expectations.
Unlike the previous seasons of Cobra Kai, there is a little less emphasis on the high-school drama aspect of the narrative. Instead, it focuses on the idea of family — Johnny Lawrence trying to build one, and Daniel LaRusso trying to keep his from falling apart. It is a far cry from the first season when Johnny was miserable and alone and Daniel was the one with a happy family and a successful business. In fact, there is a scene in particular in Season 5 where this is addressed when a desperate Daniel tries to provoke Johnny to get a reaction from him.
Johnny’s much-deserved redemption arc is complete by Season 5, whereas Daniel’s life is in tatters thanks to Terry Silver. And it would be criminal not to wax lyrical about Thomas Ian Griffith’s portrayal of Silver as the main antagonist. Griffith, who retired from acting in 2007 returned last year for the fourth season of Cobra Kai, and the man oozes charm and charisma on screen unlike any other. He essays the role to near perfection as a sophisticated and wealthy sociopath that masks the evil beneath the layers with ease. It is often said that a story is only as good as its villain, and Terry Silver is arguably one of the most well-written TV villains.
Another excellent addition to Season 5 of Cobra Kai is Yuji Okumoto as Chozen Toguchi. The former nemesis of Daniel, who is now one of his closest allies, has filled the void left by Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi in Daniel’s life. Fortunately, the showrunners have not tried to make an exact replica of Miyagi, instead, Chozen has the right balance of the ‘Miyagi temperament’ and his own inner aggression — which is symbolic of the new style of karate adopted by Miyagi-do/Eagle Fang. Chozen certainly adds a new dynamic to the story, and the much anticipated ‘mega showdown’ between Chozen and Terry Silver did not disappoint one bit. And is very much what the fans hoped it would be and so much more.
The new season did not disappoint when it comes to bringing back characters from the original films either. Cameos from two important characters from The Karate Kid Part III are crucial to the main story, however, fans hoping for Hilary Swank’s Julie Pierce cameo will be disappointed. Hopefully, she will turn for the next season, if Netflix does renew the series for another. The other major characters such as Miguel, Robby, Samantha, and Tory also have their own branched-out storylines interconnected to the overall narrative.
There is no denying that the story does defy logic at times, and it is something that is addressed and factored into the narrative. But the suspension of disbelief is the show’s strength and it uses it to its advantage to deliver gripping fight sequences coupled with a compelling story. The heart and soul of the story continue to be Johnny and Daniel and the gradual evolution of their complicated relationship from rivals to friendship from the first film The Karate Kid (1984) to Cobra Kai Season 5. The story is also elevated by its excellent soundtracks featuring a mix of rock music from the 80s to the 2010s such as Eye of The Tiger by Survivor, Runnin’ Wild by Airbourne, Judas by Fozzy (whose lead singer is pro-wrestler Chris Jericho), but the post-credits theme music Strike First at the end of each episode by Leo Birenberg & Zach Robinson will be the one that gets people hyped for the next episode.
Verdict: No other ongoing TV show has the ability to keep the audience glued to the screens despite a relatively wafer-thin premise. The action is scintillating, the drama is engrossing, and the music is spellbinding. In many ways, Cobra Kai is the flag bearer of the forgotten martial arts genre and it would be surprising if the series is not renewed for a sixth season.