Netflix is bringing us back to the nostalgic drama of the valley just in time to close out the year as “Cobra Kai” delivers its action-packed fourth season. I was an 80’s kid who grew up loving the “Karate Kid” films. In particular the first two. So naturally when this series launched and thrived on its connected fan service, I was completely hooked. Growing up, the films after “Karate Kid Part II” were not that ‘cool’ so as this season moves into “Karate Kid Part III” territory there of course is going to be some drop in the appeal.
I loved the first two seasons of this series, and I…enjoyed the third. As the focus of attention begins to hover more around the younger characters the intrigue for those my age who are much more connected to the older cast, will be lessened. This fourth season does have its balance of old and young much like it has throughout the run. But for me as I worked through the episodes there seemed to be an added frequency to the moments where I felt a bit aged out of the storylines.
This season continues the drama between the younger cast, and the rivalry between the dojo’s does deliver spots of guilty pleasure fun. The subplots are thinly written as they have been, and this season continues the amplified soap opera vibe. It feels like “The Karate Kid” meets “Beverly Hills 90210”. So as a fan of the old films, this season was filled with scenes that one minute had me wondering why I was sitting there watching something aimed for pre-teens. Then the next there would be a montage of an older cast member to an 80’s themed song that would have me completely engaged and grinning from ear-to-ear.
So, it was a bit of a mixed bag. This blend of cheesiness and awesomeness continues throughout the 10-episode run and despite some of the plotlines feeling a bit tired and heavily predictable, the charming atmosphere this series thrives on, is still in place. Just maybe not as solidified as it was. Because the portions of the story that had me genuinely engaged were a bit fewer and far between than they were in seasons past.
The younger cast is getting older, and it does feel like many of the narratives are moving a bit too slowly. The spots of fan service are still in place, but they don’t quite land like they used to. Primarily because much of the old material, and themes that are essential to appealing to Karate Kid fans, has already been tapped out.
I had fun with this season overall. But I do hope this series closes things out sooner than later. The characters have sort of progressed through their arcs and with too many more episodes they could begin to wear out their welcome. Regardless, if you’ve loved stepping into the martial-art drama of the valley, then certainly give this one a chance. But don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t quite hit like the earlier seasons.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2021 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.
Season 4 finds the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang dojos joining forces to take down Cobra Kai at the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament… and whoever loses must hang up their gi. As Samantha and Miguel try to maintain the dojo alliance and Robby goes all in at Cobra Kai, the fate of the Valley has never been more precarious. What tricks does Kreese have up his sleeve? Can Daniel and Johnny bury their decades-long hatchet to defeat Kreese? Or will Cobra Kai become the face of karate in the valley?
Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso), William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence), Courtney Henggeler (Amanda LaRusso), Xolo Maridueña (Miguel Diaz), Tanner Buchanan (Robby Keene), Mary Mouser (Samantha LaRusso), Jacob Bertrand (Hawk), Gianni Decenzo (Demetri), Vanessa Rubio (Carmen), Peyton List (Tory) and Martin Kove (John Kreese) with Dallas Dupree Young (Kenny), Oona O’Brien (Devon), Griffin Santopietro (Anthony) and Thomas Ian Griffith (Terry Silver)
“Cobra Kai” is written and executive produced by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg via their production company, Counterbalance Entertainment. Will Smith, James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett executive produce for Westbrook Entertainment along with Susan Ekins in association with Sony Pictures Television. Ralph Macchio and William Zabka also serve as executive producers.