Reviving a beloved ‘80s classic like The Karate Kid can go left or right, but Cobra Kai gets things right. After leaving its original home on YouTube, the series hit Netflix on Aug. 28 and is already sitting in the top spot.
Who knew that 30 years after the movie became a pop culture gem, William Zabka and Ralph Macchio would help bring the saga back? Between the nostalgia and modern-day relevance, Cobra Kai is striking a chord with fans. But there’s a certain part of the show that really struck Macchio during filming.
‘Cobra Kai’ expands on the original story
Rather than focus solely on Daniel LaRusso’s adult life, Cobra Kai picks up with Johnny Lawrence’s perspective before swinging things back to the source of their old rivalry.
While Johnny is a tech-averse grouch who finds somewhat of a rebirth through the dojo, LaRusso is no longer the sweet kid we all wanted to protect and root for in The Karate Kid.
They each have flaws and likeable traits, and those factors are put to the test through their family trees. Things mesh, intersect, and get really complicated in the LaRusso vs. Lawrence relationship, but there is plenty happening outside of this core conflict too in Cobra Kai. Macchio’s LaRusso is affected by the past in more ways than one.
Ralph Macchio had an emotional flashback to ‘The Karate Kid’
As the heart and face of the franchise, Macchio’s strong emotional connection to his original co-stars and the film is understandable. Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, died in 2005 but he is still honored in Cobra Kai.
In an interview with The Guardian, Macchio acknowledged how many OG cast members are in the new series but admitted he misses Morita.
He noted one scene that sparked up some heavy emotions for him as it reminded him of his late sensei. “There’s a montage scene in series two in which I’m teaching a younger kid, just as Miyagi taught LaRusso, and that brought a real rush of emotion for me. Every time we shoot I hearken back to those early days of rehearsal with Pat.”
Macchio and Morita created three films together in the franchise and he added that the late actor took pride in the role.
Macchio always held Morita in high regard
When Morita passed away, Macchio spoke at his funeral. They remained friends for decades after the films ended. Back in 2014, Macchio spoke fondly of Morita while remembering him 30 years after The Karate Kid dropped.
He told USA Today: “What I did feel when we were making the movie is that Pat Morita and I had a natural organic ease in our acting styles. Those scenes just really – I don’t know how to describe it. If there was anything evident on that set, it was evident that relationship was very natural and real.”
Fans can now relive the magic between Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi by watching all three Karate Kid movies and then following up with seasons 1 and 2 of Cobra Kai.