In the ’80s, William Zabka was the go-to if you needed an actor to play a high school bully. Of all his movies it was his role as cocky, red leather jacket-clad bigshot Johnny who tormented Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) in the original Karate Kid. As seen in the trailer above, YouTube Red revisits this classic story in Cobra Kai, but instead of focusing on bullied, the original series focuses on the reformed bully.
The series, which will debut in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, takes place 34 years after the events of the first installment of the franchise that made Macchio a heartthrob and increased karate class enrollment across the country. We find Daniel living a comfortable life with his family in Encino and “karate chopping” prices at his successful string of car dealerships. His old rival Johnny, however, is a drunken washup, trying to figure out what the hell to do with his life. After having a run-in with some punk teens, one of them inspires him to reopen the titular Cobra Kai dojo.
The Karate Kid is an institution for children of the ’80s so the nostalgia factor of the series is through the roof. The trailer has easter eggs from the original: Johnny’s sleeveless Cobra Kai gi, Daniel’s headband from Mr. Miyagi, the iconic skeleton costume from the memorable Halloween scene — someone is bound to shout “Sweep the leg!” at some point in the series. Speaking of, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Miyagi presence or homage in this series. Nonetheless, based on the trailer, the roles have seemed to be reversed in the new series. Daniel, the hero of the original, kind of seems like a jerk and Johnny seems to be the one who we are rooting for. Watch the trailer above to see for yourself.
The new series is written and executive produced by Josh Heald and Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg. Hurwitz & Schlossberg will direct much of the series. Susan Ekins also executive produces, with Will Smith, James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett executive producing for Overbrook Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television Studios.