Karate Kid re­booted for new YouTube se­ries

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - MATT BON­ES­TEEL

Let’s just get this out of the way first: The first “Karate Kid” movie is, un­de­ni­ably, a sports movie. The fact that the first two-thirds of the film con­sist of teenage angst and prob­a­bly du­bi­ous mar­tial-arts in­struc­tion is be­sides the point. Daniel LaRusso wins a big shiny tro­phy at the end. Sports movie.

As for the other films in the fran­chise: I’m not sure what “The Karate Kid Part II” is, but it’s not a sports movie.

I never saw the third film in the se­ries — which was panned as “a hor­ri­ble movie” by its own direc­tor — though I’m told from Wikipedia that it also ends with a karate tour­na­ment.

Two of the main char­ac­ters from the orig­i­nal “Karate Kid,” the one from 1984, are com­ing back for a 10episode com­edy se­ries on YouTube Red, the stream­ing video ser­vice’s sub­scrip­tion of­fer­ing. Ti­tled “Co­bra Kai,” it will fo­cus on a dow­nand-out Johnny Lawrence, the bully played by Billy Zabka in the orig­i­nal. Ac­cord­ing to the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter, Johnny will re­open the in­fa­mous dojo and reignite his karate ri­valry “with a now-suc­cess­ful Daniel, who has been strug­gling to main­tain bal­ance in his life with­out the guid­ance of his men­tor, Mr. Miyagi.”

Both Zabka and Ralph Mac­chio, who played the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter in the orig­i­nal, will re­turn to the roles that made them fa­mous while also serv­ing as ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers (the Re­porter says they “pitched the se­ries all over town,” draw­ing of­fers from Net­flix, Ama­zon, Hulu and AMC be­cause re­boots are all the rage). Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, passed away in 2005.

“Like ev­ery­one who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enor­mous fans of ‘The Karate Kid,’” scrip­writ­ers/co-ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers Josh Heald, Jon Hur­witz and Hay­den Schloss­berg said in a joint state­ment. “‘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.”

Heald is best known as the scriptwriter for 2010’s “Hot Tub Time Ma­chine,” while Hur­witz and Schloss­berg were re­spon­si­ble for the “Harold and Ku­mar” films plus a lat­ter “Amer­i­can Pie” movie, so “Co­bra Kai” is def­i­nitely go­ing to skew funny, which frankly is the only way to tackle the story of two car­toon­ishly drawn char­ac­ters from 30-plus years ago.

No word yet on if Martin Kove will reprise his role as evil sen­sei John Kreese, but he should.


Ralph Mac­chio, left, and Pat Morita are shown in a scene from 1984’s "The Karate Kid."

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