Cobra Kai Season 3 Review


The much-awaited third season of Cobra Kai was released on Netflix on Jan. 1, 2021, immediately picking up from the cliffhanger of the previous season. Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), Johnny’s student, is critically injured after the fight with Robbie Keene (Tanner Buchanan), Cobra Kai is back with John Kreese (Martin Cove), and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny (William Zabka) wallow in defeat after failing their students. 

As always, this season was a fun ride for any Karate Kid fans and new watchers as well. There are plenty of great scenes and in this particular season, probably the best fights choreographed in the show thus far. With the actors now being experienced and much older, viewers definitely get a much more palpable sense of the heavier weight of the blows in the fight scenes. 

The show went back to Karate Kid 3 and sent Daniel back to Okinawa in order to reconnect with the deceased Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), his former sensei. Balance has always been a key element of the series and having Daniel go back to his roots was a great way to remind him of Mr. Miyagi’s teachings. Even besides that, the show finds balance by finally closing the conflict between Daniel and Johnny over their mutual love for Ali (Elisabeth Sue), putting an end to the heated love triangle. It’s refreshing to see that the characters can overcome their issues like mature adults, especially as a result of confronting their failures head-on.

However, while these aspects were handled well, there were a few issues with some characters’ development. Tory (Peyton List), an antagonist of the previous season, especially had this issue. While she’s portrayed to have a very tough life at home, and is shown to be less aggressive at the beginning of the season, she eventually reverts back to her past, crazy self at the drop of a hat. This sudden change made it hard to sympathize with her character because there simply wasn’t enough time to digest what happened before she  became an antagonizer again. The plot point of Robbie’s hate for Daniel was also poorly done. After the events of last season, Robbie is wanted for arrest but would receive a lighter sentence if he turned himself in. Daniel calls the police and finds Robbie, turning him in for the greater good and the better outcome for Robbie. However, Daniel seems to add more confusion and ends up creating preventable conflict, leading Robbie to feel betrayed and despising his sensei. This dynamic felt forced, likely to help set up Robbie as the antagonist the next season.

However, the one new development the show nailed was John Kreese by showing flashbacks of his days in Vietnam and how the psychotic nature of his chief molded him into the cold person he is today. We see a similar trend in his upbringing as all the other students, someone who was bullied and had a difficult childhood, eventually turning to someone so that they could change. Kreese unfortunately became a victim to the terrors of war and eventually came out of Vietnam as a hateful and merciless fighter.

And while there were serious moments like this, the season also was a bit cringier than previous seasons. Although the cringe and cheesy moments have always been a part of the atmosphere of the show in order to get the 80s vibes of the original Karate Kid, it seemed much more blatant and frequent during this season, likely due to the much more serious conflict explored this season than before. 
Actual plot and substance aside, it is truly shocking every time to see the wonderful production of the series. The actors, especially the older ones (60 to 70 years old!), are able to have great chemistry in terms of character interactions and fight choreography. And ever since last season’s finale, the show has been experimenting a lot with one-take fight scenes which always look impressive, especially in a web series. From a YouTube Red web-series back in 2016 to a top Netflix show, Cobra Kai has come a long way and perfectly encapsulates and builds on the themes and conflict of the original Karate Kid series.