YouTube Red's Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai includes never before seen footage from the original movie that casts Johnny Lawrence in a different light. More than 30 years after the original movie became the surprise feel-good hit of 1984, Cobra Kai revisits The Karate Kid and catches up with hero Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and bad guy Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). As it turns out, the two characters' lives have taken very different paths since the fateful karate tournament at the climax of the movie.
Nowadays, Daniel is a family man who owns his own car dealership. Johnny on the other hand has become a broke loser. The two old adversaries end up back in each other's lives when Johnny tries to turn around his fortunes by starting a new Cobra Kai dojo, and Daniel becomes wary that his old rival is about to start some trouble in the neighborhood.
When Cobra Kai debuts on YouTube Red, the show will take us back to the moment that shaped Johnny and Daniel's lives forever. But in addition to footage from the original movie, the flashback sequence also includes some never-before-seen shots that somewhat re-contextualize the iconic Karate Kid ending and allow us to see Johnny Lawrence in a different light. Cobra Kai creators Hayden Schlossberg, Josh Heald and Jon Hurwitz break down the previously unseen footage and explain how they incorporate it into the show in the video clip above.
The new series literally opens with a flashback to the Karate Kid tournament when Johnny was ordered by Kreese to "sweep the leg," nearly crippling Daniel for the sake of a trophy. Of course Daniel came back with the crane kick taught to him by Mr. Miyagi, landing a knock-out blow to Johnny and winning the tournament (and getting the girl, and launching himself on a trajectory that would result in him one day owning his own car dealership). But the flashback scene also contains a few new shots unearthed from the Sony vaults, including a previously unused close-up of Johnny taking Daniel's kick to the face.
As the series creators explain in the clip, the close-up of Johnny is intended to shift the perspective of the scene away from Daniel - who obviously was the protagonist in the original - and more onto Johnny. Instead of the moment being a triumph for Daniel, it becomes about Johnny's failure. There's even a newly made shot of Johnny on the mat after taking the kick, driving home the idea that as much as this moment helped Daniel find confidence in himself, it also helped basically send Johnny on a downward spiral.
Sadly, Johnny is still spiraling downward at the beginning of Cobra Kai. In the new clip, we see him refusing money from his father played by Ed Asner. We also see him taking all kinds of crap from Daniel's pals at the car dealership. And we actually feel sorry for him. Back in the day, the idea of sympathizing with Johnny Lawrence would have seemed unthinkable. But now, thanks to Karate Kid follow-up Cobra Kai, we can take a second look at one of movie history's most iconic bullies and consider things from his point-of-view. And we may even wind up rooting for Johnny to achieve some kind of redemption.
Cobra Kai premieres Wednesday, May 2 on YouTube Red.
Source: Cobra Kai