Review by Dan Skip Allen
Cobra Kai surprised everybody when it premiered on the now-defunct YouTube Red. Fans and critics alike praised the show's genuine fun and nostalgic entertainment. It also had a lot of heart, which was why it succeeded so well. Despite the acclaim of the show, it didn't get the ratings it needed, so YouTube sold the rights to Netflix. It thrived on Netflix, making them extend it for multiple seasons. Fast forward to season five of Cobra Kai, and things are more difficult than ever for everyone involved.
Now owned and run by Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), the dojo has succeeded in winning the all-valley karate tournament with its champion Tory Nichols (Peyton List). He and the dojo are now headed in bigger and bolder directions. He intends to spread Cobra Kai dojo everywhere throughout the valley and beyond the borders of the United States. Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), and the kids have to team up to stop him and make people realize he's a fraud and can't be trusted.
The show starts with all the main characters separated and defeated in their own ways. Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduena) is in Mexico searching for his father while Johnny and Robby Keane (Tanner Buchanan) go on a road trip to find him. The girls, including Samantha Larusso (Mary Mouser) and the other kids, are down on their luck and licking their wounds. John Kreese (Martin Kove) is in prison, but he has plans to get back at Silver. The cast is vast, and in season five, many story beats must come together.
New alliances form to try to take down Silver, but there are also fracturing within Silver's ranks. He tried to align himself with some characters we've seen in past episodes, such as Paul Walter Hauser's character Stingray. His plans start to unravel when everybody teams up against him, including Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan). This show has reached a new high, and the writers have taken out all the stops. The finale of the season is off the chain. With this rivalry comes consequences, though.
This show has leaned in on all the fighting and authentic karate choreography within it. The karate and the fighting this season are at the next level, from the kids to the adults. The action sequences are all very well done, and the action is first-rate for this series's budget. With Netflix holding the purse strings, they may have loosened them up. This show keeps getting better and better with each preceding season, one after another.
The Program creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and the writers Robert Mark Kamen and others have created a show that the fans can get behind. As mentioned, Cobra Kai has heart and nostalgia for days, and the show is well written and directed for its rather low budget. I grew up with The Karate Kid when I was a kid, and to see this franchise get a new lease on life with this show tickles me silly. The William Zabka character is the most relatable and enjoyable to watch, but all of them have good arcs throughout the show. This series knew its audience and didn't try to veer away from that too much. That's why it was and is so successful. The series concluded perfectly for my liking.
Cobra Kai streams on Netflix beginning September 9. All ten episodes reviewed.