Saturday, November 4, 2017

But I Digress... Cobra Kai Do or Die

By Cat

Gallery 1988 Series The Subtle Art of Pop Culture Eric Tan print (Sold out)
I think it’s been pretty obvious that I’m an absolute sucker for 80’s nostalgia. It makes my inner kid squee – and often that translates to chuckles from my friends and family when I actually do so aloud. They expect such from me, anyway… but I digress.

I recently stumbled on a bit of Hollywood buzz that earned an excited bounce in my chair and a few exclamations. The Karate Kid (1984) franchise is getting another sequel installment.

Normally, this might have me groaning and rolling my eyes, but this was different. I’ve watched all of the various incarnations in the series – from the original trilogy to the gender-bent new generation attempt, and the full-on reboot of several years ago. They started losing me after the second movie in the trilogy, really. The series peaked for me there – and then there was that soundtrack that I still love.

Before I bury the lead here, I’m happy to explain that this new series is returning to the OG roots of the story and shining a light on the primary adversaries from the original 1984 movie – Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence pick up the story 30 years after the infamous tournament.
"Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of The Karate Kid. Cobra Kai will be a true continuation of the original films – packed with comedy, heart, and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry, and we’re thankful to our partners at YouTube Red, Sony Pictures Television, and Overbrook for their shared enthusiasm in making our dream project a reality." - Sony Pictures Press Release - Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg
The series is currently in production in Atlanta, GA and will be released for streaming on the YouTube Red subscription service sometime in 2018. YouTube has planned a 10 episode run of 30-minute episodes. That’s a decent run if you consider Stranger Things (2016-) episodes number less than that per season (albeit an hour long each).

What I’ve gleaned from the various articles that have popped up between the August 2017 Sony Pictures announcement and now is that the plot will be a little bit ‘where are they now’ looking at the lives of Johnny and Daniel – and, of course, Ralph Macchio (Ugly Betty, Hitchcock, The Deuce) and William Zabka (Back to School, Hot Tub Time Machine, How I Met Your Mother) are reprising their iconic roles. The duo have apparently remained friends over the years since they took part in the pop culture staple as crane-kicker and leg-sweeper respectively; and they seem to have become spearheads of this project. Both are working as co-executive producers in addition to starring in the series.

JoBlo doesn’t seem to be a very big fan of 80’s Nostalgia, which seems to be solidifying itself as a bonafide genre of its own; yet they posted a very informative article with some inside scoop as to some of the plot content of the new series. It’s possible that it might be a bit of a mild spoiler, so if you don’t want to leave everything to surprise you at series release, you can check that article out here.

Getty Images
This new show is a little bittersweet for me. I am decidedly going to miss Mr. Miyagi, played by Oscar winner Pat Morita (Mulan, Baywatch, Act Your Age). Sadly, he passed in 2005. I do appreciate the fact that his character will be honored in the new story and central to part of Daniel’s story as he is trying to balance his life without his mentor in it. This is something that resonates with me significantly. As I get older and important mentors from my youth (mostly teachers and friends’ parents) have passed on, it can be a difficult thing to process – in direct proportion to how significant a role the person played in your life.

Of course that plays right into one of the primary goals of YouTube when they snagged the series – they’re looking to expand their demographic to an older audience. Current YouTube watchers tend to be in the younger age-brackets. I know my daughter is all about her YouTubers. She watches YouTube on her Kindle more than she actually reads books on the thing. I watch decidedly less, generally, unless I’m poring through trailers or the occasional music video. It can be quite the rabbit hole to dive.

I thought it was interesting that the new series was named after the dojo at the center of all the conflict in the original movie, but YouTube’s Global Head of Originals, Susanne Daniels, explained the concept behind that.
"If The Karate Kid was Daniel’s story, Cobra Kai is equal parts Daniel and Johnny’s story. Also because this is a series and not a movie, we really wanted to reimagine how the story was told. Changing the name made sense as part of that." - Susanne Daniels via Hollywood Reporter
I can’t wait to see how they infuse the past with the present, how many thematic elements carry over or differ from the originals, and how well the comedy plays in to the story. I’m thinking that we might just do a Karate Kid marathon right before this series is released. This is definitely a reason to pick up the YouTube Red subscription – if only for a little while.

Here's some of the production details we currently know about the new series: 

Matt Peppler Illustration and Graphic Design
Official Synopsis: Thirty years after the events of the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, a down-and-out Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) seeks redemption by reopening the infamous Cobra Kai karate dojo, reigniting his rivalry with a now successful Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), who has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi. The show is about two men addressing past demons and present frustrations the only way they know how: through karate.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, Family
Production Companies: Hurwitz & Schlossberg Productions, Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Television
Producers: William Zabka, Ralph Macchio, Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, Hayden Schlossberg    
Directors: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Writers: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Actors: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Ed Asner, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Xolo MaridueƱa, Jacob Bertrand, Jonathan Mercedes, Kwajalyn Brown, Vanessa Rubio, Gianni Decenzo, Kylie Delre, Bo Mitchell, Ashton Leigh, Euseph Messiah, Terayle Hill, Luke Donaldson, Onye Eme-Akwari
Stunts: Jennifer Badger, Ken Barefield, Nick DeKay, Juliene Joyner, Jonathan Mercedes, Dawson Towery, Jwaundace Candece, Lance Herota, Hiro Koda 

P.S. As a little something extra, you can watch a free behind-the-scenes 'rehearsal movie' from the original Karate Kid, released shortly after the original director's passing. I wasn't able to embed it into the article for some reason, but it's available on this article from TheHollywoodNews.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's our celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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