Cobra Kai Season 3 Review


All Rights go to Netflix

By Graham Jones, Reporter

The Karate Kid franchise, an example of pure 1980s cheese that, in my opinion, is endlessly enjoyable. Even its title has a sense of loveable corniness to it that is rare to see in today’s movies and shows. I have been a fan of the original films for quite a while, first discovering them in elementary school. Though I have never been a big fan of sports movies, the underdog story of a kid from New Jersey learning karate in California to fight off bullies is so undeniably stupid and fun that I don’t see a universe where I don’t enjoy the Karate Kid films. That’s why I was so excited in 2018 when Youtube brought the series back to life with a television show called Cobra Kai, which followed a grown-up Johnny Lawrence, the main bully from the original film. 


Though the trailers looked terrible, I watched it on release and to my surprise, it was fantastic. Unfortunately, not many others watched the show due to it being on Youtube’s admittedly terrible premium streaming service. Skip to two years later where the show’s two seasons have now been moved to Netflix and a larger audience has discovered how great the show really is. With a bigger fanbase and a new season ready to be released, Netflix came out with season three on New Year’s Day and after a long day of binging, I can say that Cobra Kai is stronger than ever.


What made the first two seasons so great was their ability to capture the cheesiness of the films while also having deeper characters and conflicts and season three continues this. As the stakes grow bigger and bigger, the show can feel a bit overwhelming, but the writers make sure that the focus is still on the characters and their development. From day one, Cobra Kai was about Johnny Lawrence and Daniel Larusso’s rivalry and how each of them was in some ways stuck in the past. While season two focused more on the student drama, which at times made it a bit too much of a soap opera, season three returns the focus to the adults. Kreese, the sinister karate sensei of the original film, is given a surprising amount of depth in this season as the audience gets to see flashbacks to his time in Vietnam. Though he remains as an over-the-top and unapologetic villain, the extra background we are given on his character fleshes him out in a way I was surprised to see.

All Rights go to Netflix

The other two leads, Johnny and Daniel, are also given lots of development in this season as each goes on their own “spiritual” journey to heal after the last season’s events. This allows for some special guests from the original films to show up, all of whom are used in the best way possible. They’re nostalgic, but serve a purpose to the characters and plot.

Even though it’s still very enjoyable to watch the teenage characters in the show, it feels as if this season pushed them to their extremes. The bullies are now full-on villains and the underdogs are all noble heroes. Each kid still has their own unique personality but it feels as if their complexity shown in the first two seasons has been a little bit lost in exchange for a basic “good guy” or “bad guy” role. The show has also become less and less realistic with each season, which I hesitate to call a problem but could bug other viewers. A show that started with being about a guy opening a karate dojo and somehow evolved into being about violent gang wars — I would like to repeat– is incredibly entertaining. 


With a show all about karate, it’s safe to expect there’ll be a lot of scenes of people doing…well, karate, and season three delivers. This newest season has some of the best action of the whole series, and in fact, it’s some of the best action I have seen in any form of media recently. Though some of my favorite shows from the last year like The Mandalorian and The Boys have had fantastic action set pieces, something about the way the action is shot and choreographed in Cobra Kai is so crisp and clean resembling something similar to the action in the John Wick films. Oftentimes, the epic karate showdowns are captured in single long takes that zoom past the kicks and punches that all look like they genuinely hurt. Season three also starts to make the brawls more brutal than ever, making each new fight feel 10x more intense than the ones from the first two seasons and raising the stakes overall. This also comes through with the desperation of the adult characters who desperately just want to protect their children. These white-knuckle action scenes really help to balance out the slower pace of season three as a whole.

All Rights go to Netflix


At the end of the day, the third season of Cobra Kai is basically just set-up for the next season. I don’t see that as too much of an issue since this season is just as entertaining, if not more entertaining, than the last two and takes the time to dive deep into the main characters of the series. Plus, who doesn’t love that section in a film right before the big showdown when everyone is on the top of their game because that is what season three essentially is. I also can’t help but mention how awesome the finale is. It is perfectly cheesy and badass and everything I love about this show. I would go as far to say that the show is worth picking up just so you can watch the finale of season three. That being said, the show is definitely an acquired taste and will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like cheesy, dramatic yet thoughtful entertainment, Cobra Kai is the perfect show. Season three is another home run within the Karate Kid universe and I for one, cannot wait to see what comes next.