This past weekend, everyone’s favorite karate dojo returned as Netflix dropped Cobra Kai season 5. The story picks up right where we left off with season 4 and jumps right back into the action as Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence and Chozen try to take down Terry Silver.
Today we’re reviewing season 5. There are major spoilers ahead. Reader beware.
As we discussed in the past, Cobra Kai is a near perfect series. The show has offered up a style of nostalgia that resonates well with the original audience of The Karate Kid universe all while appealing to a new audience. Cobra Kai season 5 expands that even further with themes not only from the original Karate Kid movie, but old school kung fu and samurai flicks from the Hong Kong heyday.
Cobra Kai season 5: Shift in Inspiration
The early seasons of Cobra Kai were directly influenced by the original movies and the 80s that has Johnny Lawrence held in a time capsule. Cobra Kai season 5 draws influence from more than just The Karate Kid franchise. Instead it pulls from Kung Fu flicks in its entirety. It’s inspiration comes from the Bruce Lee movies, Ip Man, and even Kung Fu Hustle.
While it’s always been based on dojo rivalries, Terry Silver’s over the top personality is more akin to the original movies that inspired The Karate Kid itself. We see dojo fights similar to Bruce Lee going into a rival dojo for disrespecting his master and this gives us huge gang fights that are masterfully crafted.
What makes this season so good is the fact that it shucks Cobra Kai of the past and reinvents itself in a new but adjacent genre. It seems fresh even though that we have almost all the same characters with a few new.
In addition to the fight scenes, the story is well crafted, as is the case with most Netflix stories these days. Again, it’s fresh and Terry Silver plays a convincing bad guy. In the final battle against Chozen, Silver pulls out a sword, upping the ante for everyone involved. This brought the series from The Karate Kid to 47 Ronin territory. We had the shot of Silver’s blood-soaked blade that was straight out of samurai flicks.
The writers did a great job of pulling from different movies outside the Miyagiverse and kept the show feeling like it was something new. Now with Silver gone and Miyagi-Fang going international, there are plenty of new stories we can explore abroad.
Falling Short (only a little)
While Cobra Kai season 5 was absolutely phenomenal, it wasn’t perfect. But what is? My chief complaint was we didn’t get to see The Karate Bad Boy do much of anything. The writers brought back Sean Kanan’s Mike Barnes but totally underutilized him. We had the opportunity to put together an Avengers-esque moment with Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence, Chozen Toguchi, and Mike Barnes all teaming up to take on the big bad Terry Silver. Instead, we got the gang split up and Barnes almost immediately incapacitated. I really hoped to have a scene like the opening of Age of Ultron where we get the team all fighting and the camerawork and choreography brings us from member to member in action and working together. But that could be an issue with my expectations and hoping for too much.
One thing that did bother me to hell and back was Miguel and Sam breaking up again. I understand they are high schoolers and they can be dumb in relationships but the two split seemingly every season. It’s tired. Have them grow in a relationship. Show growing pains, not a split.
Finally, the John Kreese scene. I’m glad they kept Kreese confined for the most part and let Terry Silver go completely off the rails. But him escaping from jail in a Joker-like manner with “My Way” by Frank Sinatra in the back was an obvious Joker reference. Kinda corny, even for Cobra Kai. But he’s out and he can be a nuisance once again. I’m all for it. Especially after the gang is done internationally.
Overall rating: 9/10
Once again, John Hurwitz and Josh Heald delivered on Cobra Kai. They have said that there is an end they are working to. But for now, we are blessed with another season coming eventually. Cobra Kai takes what made it awesome, keeps it at heart and reinvents what else is left.
With the new Karate Kid movie announced, we may be on the way to seeing the gang back on the big screen, albeit likely not in this installment. But maybe we could see a big budget Cobra Kai movie on the big screen as it’s finale. A man can dream.