Look, I may not have grown up watching the Karate Kid movies but I did binge watch the first 3 movies in preparation for the latest season of Cobra Kai, which dropped on Netflix almost a month ago. You could say I’m quite knowledgeable regarding the entire series and the events of the films are fairly fresh in my mind. I even re-watched all of the previous seasons in preparation for it all. In fact, I noticed how the first season of Cobra Kai feels so different than the ones that came after it. Johhny Lawrence’s redemption arc has fallen by the wayside and it seems more like Daniel LaRusso is nosing his way to be the main star and not just the secondary lead.
However, I’m not going to review this season of Cobra Kai based on how the show has evolved to this point, though it may contribute to my overall impressions of it. I’m also not going to judge it based on how well it fits into the lore of the Karate Kid franchise. What I am going to do is review Cobra Kai’s 4th season based on the things I liked and disliked about it.
Before I do get into the review, I will say this is a SPOILER FREE review. Yes, it’s been on Netflix for quite a while and I’m betting slowpokes like me who like to take their time with their television programs have already completed it by now. I still want to make this SPOILER FREE just to be on the safe side.
Anyway, this season of Cobra Kai takes place right after the events of the previous season. Both Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso confront John Kreese after the kids from Cobra Kai laid siege to the LaRusso house. They all make a deal to settle it all during the next All Valley Karate tournament and the losers will have to disband their dojos and stop teaching karate. Johnny and Daniel decide to join forces in a consolidated attempt to beat Cobra Kai. John Kreese does have an ace up his sleeve: his old friend, Terry Silver.
There’s actually a lot to like about this season of Cobra Kai but the first really good thing I have to mention is undoubtedly Terry Silver. I actually didn’t care for him so much when he appeared in Karate Kid III. He was just too cartoony and over-the-top. He was menacing but just a touch too crazy to take seriously. In Cobra Kai, though, Terry Silver has a little more nuance. He’s still a bad guy but he’s more conniving and smart, making him scarier. He keeps his cards close to his chest and doesn’t openly display his ruthlessness. He also has a bit of a story arc which is not fully realized but you get the general gist of what he’s gone through since Karate Kid III and why he wants to return to Cobra Kai.
I also like what they did with Robby Keene, Johnny Lawrence’s son, because he’s a much more complex character this time around. He’s more well rounded and, although you can generally feel what his motivations are, he’s not as conflicted as he has definitely calmed down. Ditto for Hawk as, while his story arc isn’t prominent, there is a natural flow to it and it leaves you rooting for him. In fact, I really wished they devoted much more time to Hawk as, while he is just a secondary character, he’s the one who’s shown the most growth of all the characters in this season.
They also did pull out all the stops during the All Valley Tournament as the fight scenes during this was exciting. There’s a real tense feeling for most of the bouts and, while you have a general idea of who’s going to move on, there’s always a feeling they’re going to pull the rug out from under you and surprise you with a twist. Besides, Cobra Kai is not necessarily known for the good guys winning all the time so some matches can be a nail biting experience if you want a particular person to come out on top.
It did feel pretty random how Cobra Kai added more characters to the series when the show is already bursting at the seams with so many kids already. Thankfully, none of them feel annoying but don’t really add to the overall story. I do have to point out one new character who gets recruited by Johnny Lawrence as they infused her with a lot of personality to make her stand out. I really like what I’ve seen from her and I hope she gets a more prominent role moving forward.
While there’s a lot to like from this season of Cobra Kai, I do feel there’s a general lot of padding with it. Running at 10 episodes with each episode running at just above 30 minutes, not a whole lot seems to be going on during those 30 minutes. There just seems like a lot of filler to extend each episode in general. Each episode could have been trimmed down and nothing would’ve been lost in the grand scheme of things.
There are also a whole lot of subplots which don’t really add to the overall story of the season. Things like Anthony, Daniel LaRusso’s son, being a bully, Johnny Lawrence’s romance with Miguel’s mother, Daniel LaRusso’s wife relating to Tory’s situation and a host of other side stories I’m probably forgetting because they’re not worth mentioning were all crammed in here but nothing really came up from them until for the last couple of episodes. It’s almost like this is all setup for the next season and, because of that, the ending for the season feels a little unsatisfying. It’s all cliffhanger without any real resolution. I will say I’m intrigued at the possibilities of what might happen next season but I do want a some closure for some of the storylines they already have.
With all of that being said, I will say I still enjoyed Cobra Kai. While I still say Netflix and the people behind the series have forgotten the premise of Cobra Kai, which should be all about Johnny Lawrence seeking redemption and finding direction in life, most of the main characters as well as the new characters, especially Terry Silver, are intriguing in their own way. I also do like how they did go through an actual karate tournament with stakes involved as well. However, it does feel overly long, even if it just has 10 episodes because of all the padding involved. It’s still a good watch overall.
Just don’t add the Hillary Swank character. I heard it’s not a good movie and I don’t want to watch it.
Have you seen the 4th season of Cobra Kai? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!