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Karate Kid is Coming Back as a Series with the Original Stars


EWRalph Macchio, who first played Daniel LaRusso in 1984’s The Karate Kid, is set to reprise his role in a sequel series for YouTube Red titled Cobra Kai — and his on-screen rival, William Zabka, will be joining him for the ride as Johnny Lawrence.

The half-hour comedy received a straight-to-series order with 10 episodes of Cobra Kai, set 30 years after the original film. In this next chapter of the saga, Johnny is down on his luck and re-opens the Cobra Kai dojo on his search for redemption. This puts him at odds with Daniel, who, though successful, is trying to find balance in his life without Mr. Miyagi.

I’m torn. Not about the news that we’re going to finally get to find out what happened to Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. That is a pure good. No, I’m torn between ecstatic that this is getting done and my nerd rage that it’s taken so long to finally happen. For all the bullshit, unnecessary reboots Hollywood has to answer for (Ghostbusters, Jayden Smith’s Karate Kid), the fact that until now no one has tried to build a cinematic universe around their ongoing saga is a disgrace.

But I’ll put that aside and just celebrate the fact that someone was finally inspired enough to do this. One of the top movie villains of all time will be played once again by the guy who set a standard of playing 1980s movie villains that will never be matched. The original Karate Kid has the single most abrupt ending of all time. Seriously, time how long it takes from Daniel’s final kick to Johnny’s face to the credits rolling:

I have it at exactly 30 seconds. And in that time, Daniel-san wins the tournament. He becomes a folk hero. Elisabeth Shue has her first ovulation, Mr. Miyagi finds the purpose his life has been lacking. But most importantly, Johnny does the fastest turnaround from evil-to-good in movie history. Way quicker than even Darth Vader at the end of Jedi.

And it left so many unanswered questions. Questions barely addressed by Karate Kid Part II, which opted instead to send Daniel to Japan with Miyagi so he could have what passed for an ’80s Hollywood-acceptable interracial romance. We know Johnny’s defeat made him a disgrace in the eyes of his Sensei. But did he get back in his good graces? Get kicked out of the Dojo? Finally win and redeem himself? Did he and LaRusso stay enemies, become friends or some kind of frenemies? The answers are left up to our imaginations and my volumes of Karate Kid fanfic.

Until now. And even though this should have happened 20 years ago, instead of complaining, lets rejoice. Johnny Lawrence is back and he’s gonna need a bigger body bag.