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8 Problems With The Karate Kid Franchise That Cobra Kai Fixed

With Cobra Kai, some of the problems fans had with the Karate Kid films have been shifted to become important character moments.

The Karate Kid (1984) was a cheesy and standard but still enjoyable movie. Unfortunately, the same could not be fully said for the sequels. The second movie was still moderately enjoyable, but the third was just a rehash of the first with little of what made it a classic.

The modern-day YouTube Red turned Netflix series Cobra Kaisurprised viewers with how well it worked, retaining the cheesiness of the original movies’ era but with strong character development and story that satisfied old and new viewers alike. To make matters better, this streaming series has even fixed problems that had plagued the original movies for years.

Champions No Longer Receive Entitlement

In The Karate Kid Part III, a rule was implemented that the defending champion, in this case, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) would only have to fight in the final round of the tournament. This is something incredibly unrealistic for any sports event and was only done to save on a tournament montage.

Cobra Kai reverted to the original film’s rules. Xander Stone (Talin Chat) in Season 1 and Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduena) in Season 4 are seen fighting through all rounds before being eliminated in the semifinals of their respective tournaments. When Daniel tells Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) of this rule, he considers it incredulous. It may not explain the rule, but acknowledges it was a mistake.

Ali’s Version Was Closer To The Truth

At the start of The Karate Kid Part II, Daniel reveals his girlfriend from the first movie, Ali Mills (Elizabeth Shue) dumped him for a guy at UCLA and ruined Mr. Miyagi’s (Pat Morita) car. This all happened offscreen, and it was largely out of character for someone so likable.

Season 3 of Cobra Kai reveals Daniel’s story was either a lie or misinterpreted. The guy Ali supposedly fell in love with was merely a friend. Daniel in his jealousy presumed otherwise, and an upset Ali egged him on. She also warned him the brakes on the car were faulty given that it was very old. This felt more believable due to Daniel’s stubbornness in the movies and show.

Terry Silver’s Cartoonish Behavior Had A Legitimate Reason Behind It

The Karate Kid Part III had Cobra Kai founder John Kreese (Martin Kove) recruit his old-time war friend Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) to get revenge on Daniel. Griffith portrayed the character completely over-the-top and not the least bit nuanced.

Season 4 of Cobra Kai saw Silver return and remarking on how ridiculous it was to spend months terrorizing a teenager for a high school tournament. He explains his hammy behavior was the result of being addicted to cocaine and that he has worked hard to build himself back up since then. This makes it that much more tragic when his PTSD causes him to slip back into his old ways.

Rule Breaking Has Consequences

In The Karate Kid Part III, the referee was ridiculously lenient. Despite Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) punching Daniel repeatedly between rounds, he is given little more than a warning.

Season 1 of Cobra Kai acknowledges that Barnes’ actions, encouraged by Silver and Kreese, were deemed unethical and unsportsmanlike, leading the tournament board to impose a lifetime ban on Cobra Kai entering the tournament until Johnny appealed to them. During the Season 1 tournament, in the semifinals, Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) is immediately disqualified for dislocating his opponent’s shoulder between rounds. Furthermore, the revelation in the Season 4 finale after the second tournament that Silver bribed the referee can justify the leniency towards Barnes in Karate Kid III.

Daniel and Kumiko Get Proper Closure

In The Karate Kid Part II, when Daniel is in Okinawa, he develops a romance with a young girl named Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) who has dreams of being a dancer. Daniel convinces her to come to America with him, so she can go to dance school, and she seems into the idea. However, in The Karate Kid Part III, Daniel reveals offhandedly that Kumiko got a job in Tokyo she couldn’t refuse, and therefore the two broke up.

Season 3 of Cobra Kai saw Kumiko and Daniel reunite when the latter visits Okinawa on business. Both are shown to be on good terms and Kumiko happily achieved her dream.

Ali and Johnny’s Relationship Furthered The Latter’s Character

In The Karate Kid, there was very little substance to Johnny and Ali’s relationship. He was horrible to her when they were in high school, and she rightfully broke up with him in response. Despite this, Johnny continued to persist.

The first two seasons of Cobra Kai have Johnny mention how much Ali meant to him. However, only the last two episodes of Season 3 finally show the two reunite. The happy moments the two are mentioned to have shared are genuinely recaptured there, and it’s understandable why their breakup hit Johnny hard. And although they don’t get back together, their day helps Johnny truly sort out his feelings toward Carmen Diaz (Vanessa Rubio).

Chozen’s Fate Is Finally Revealed

In the climax of The Karate Kid Part II, Daniel engages in a deathmatch against Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto). Daniel subdues him but ultimately spares his life and this life-threatening event is never mentioned in the movies again. It’s especially baffling given that Daniel lets his fear get the better of him despite having faced the risk of death before this.

Season 3 of Cobra Kai finally brought closure to this arc with Chozen’s return. He is shown to have become a far better man. Chozen teaches Daniel some special techniques and the two make amends. Furthermore, Chozen once again comes to Daniel’s aid at the end of Season 4 to help take Cobra Kai down for good.

There Are Two Sides To Every Story

At the core of Cobra Kai lies the fact that it shows a new side to a classic story. In the original film, Daniel was the underdog and Johnny was the villain. That was all there was to it. Cobra Kai gives viewers a chance to see a different and tragic side to Johnny, showing that despite his jerkish tendencies, they come from a difficult place, and he is trying to do better. At the same time, despite Daniel being the hero, he had the occasional stubborn side in the original movies and the writing uses that to highlight more of his flaws. Through all this, the show manages to pose issues where both sides have their fair share of merits and drawbacks.

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